Tue 1: Walked to Upton Park to see what West Ham's old ground had turned into. A lot of flats, of course, but only half as many flats so far as there will ultimately be. Most of the blocks are named after former players, including Alan Sealey, Noel Cantwell and Wally St Pier. Any ex-footballing vibe was otherwise entirely absent.
Wed 2: It seems a lot busier on the roads this morning. Maybe people really are 'going back' to the office and to school... and judiciously avoiding public transport. Thu 3: Went to the dry cleaners to collect my winter jacket because it pays to be ready. Then I hid it away because obviously it's not necessary yet. Fri 4: The leaves on the trees by the lake in Victoria Park look they might be on the turn already, but I suspect that's an illusion. Sat 5: My neighbours, in an upstairs direction, have decided to throw a party. They do not normally do this. Their party is loud, goes on late and involves a possibly-not-illegal number of revellers. When they turn up the volume on Teardrops by Womack and Womack I do actually shout a swear word in their general direction, but I doubt they hear. I survive the evening by watching three hours of Battlestar Galactica until I'm tired enough that I fall asleep anyway. Sun 6: The problem with walking around the Isle of Dogs at the weekend is the number of joggers out puffing and panting, especially through the narrow bits. Island Gardens is the furthest south I've been since March. It was nice to wave at Greenwich again. Mon 7: Boarded a train to go to Southend, which was nice and empty because it was 10am, but made the mistake of getting the train back at 4pm which meant the carriages were full of schoolkids (who it turns out travel a lot further west than anticipated). Tue 8: This is the first time I have ever seen Carpenters Lock, in the centre of the Olympic Park, open... although only for cleaning gunk out of the mechanism, not to let an actual boat through.
Wed 9: Radio 4Extra is repeating Hordes of the Things, a four-part epic fantasy Tolkien spoof. When it was first broadcast in 1980 I recorded it on a C120 cassette and played it over and over, which meant I was able to mouth along to the latest broadcast almost word for word. HotT was written by Andrew Marshall and John Lloyd, starred Paul Eddington and Frank Middlemass, and was I suspect a formative influence on my sense of humour. Thu 10: The squirrel who frequents my balcony is more interested in acorns than conkers. Fri 11: Mince pies are back, and 2020 deserves treats so I bought a box. That said, I haven't finished off my Creme Eggs yet. Sat 12:Londonist continues to publish very little, as opposed to the usual fifty posts a week pre-lockdown. This week they've only published eleven, five of which have been sponsored posts extolling the likes of Chinatown, mealkits and a shop that sells mattresses ("If you think mattress shopping means making a long trip out to a retail estate on the outskirts of town, think again"). When your business model is predicated on people going out and doing stuff, and they no longer do, it's damned hard to make a living. Sun 13: TfL have deleted the @elizabethline Twitter account, just four years after prizing it off an American businesswoman. They've also killed off @circleline, all the other tube lines, @LondonDLR, @TfLTravelAlerts, @TfLBusAlerts, even the official Dangleway account, in an attempt to focus customer response on the increasingly bland @TfL account. Hundreds of thousands of old tweets have been extinguished overnight, erasing all sorts of embarrassing optimism. Mon 14: The first visitor to my flat in six months arrived to fix my cooker. It's not good that an eleven-month-old cooker should need urgent repair, but guaranteewise much better than failing at thirteen months. Tue 15: Let's go to Wanstead Flats, said Best Mate, so we did. I also showed him the delights of the vast City of London Cemetery, but we had to keep dodging funerals because bright red t-shirts don't look especially respectful.
Wed 16: Walking beside the river in the Olympic Park, three irrigation sprinklers popped up and started spraying in a slow rotating pattern... and suddenly I was starring in my own sci-fi movie trying to dodge deadly killer lasers in a futuristic corridor. I escaped with slight leg wounds. Thu 17: Hurrah, it's launch day for the new Ben Aaronvitch Rivers of London paperback, False Value. Bought the only copy in Stratford and was 80 pages in by the time I reached Ramsgate. I'm never disappointed. Fri 18: Went round to BestMate's for dinner, which we used to do weekly but haven't risked since March. Managed to work out which Netflix episode we'd got up to, and we're optimistic we might be able to finish the series before London locks down again. Sat 19:My Open House tally for the day: 2. Walked 13 miles to visit them and got a nasty blister for my troubles. Sun 20:My Open House tally for the day: 2. Walked less than a mile to visit them. I'd like to apologise to the pastor for pointing out that the church's Easter Garden was still on display. Mon 21: Now that a new bridge has been swung into place over the Lea, two fresh roads have opened in the Olympic Park - Bassett Lane and Sweetwater Place. At present all they do is force drivers to drive a fraction further than before, but by the end of the year Marshgate Lane should be complete all the way through to Waterden Road.
Tue 22: Returned to the library for the first time since March. Booked an appointment before turning up. This turned out not to be necessary. The long queue at the door was for people demanding recycling bags. Sanitiser and Test'n'Trace were required on entry. Only a tiny corner of the library was actually open. Looked at a few shelves without touching the books. Ended up walking away with a sealed bag of six staff-chosen picks. Good choices, thanks. Wed 23: Went to Ryman and bought myself a 2021 diary, just in case non-essential shops become no-go zones later in the year and I end up with nowhere to write down my daily thoughts regarding the ongoing apocalypse. Thu 24: Walked up the narrow staircase from Shad Thames to the southern deck of Tower Bridge and, for the first time in my life, there was nobody else on it. Tourism in central London really is screwed. Fri 25: I'd love to go back to FarthingDowns and Happy Valley down Croydon way, but the next best thing is to listen to the audio trail the Friends have just launched including narration by Martin Jarvis, Joanna Lumley, Benjamin Zephaniah, Miriam Margolyes and Noddy Holder. Sat 26: Hell yes, I just got the balance between gravy granules and boiling water spot on. Sun 27: The Sunday street market in Chatsworth Road is up and running again, with stallholders attempting to flog artisan bread, bijou soap and ethnic concoctions to not enough people. Mon 28: Especially for the four of you who chipped in to tell us that T registrations were used in Scotland in 2007 when TN07 was used in place of SN07 "because nobody wants a numberplate that reads SNOT", I'm delighted to bring you this photo of an authentic TN07 numberplate I spotted today in a Stratford backstreet.
Tue 29: Walking in Victoria Park I had a choice of walking on the left- or right-hand side of a tree-lined avenue. I picked left. Shortly afterwards a large branch fell to the ground on the right, precisely where I'd have been walking. It wouldn't have made a full-on Casualty episode, but it was no twig either. Wed 30: The Google StreetView car drove past me this morning, not so far from home. I look forward to trying to spot myself in a few months time... although I wish I'd worn a nicer shirt.