Journal

Yesterday I watched a whole season of Kingdom on Netflix. It’s a big budget zombie show set in 16th century Korea. It being a Korean language show, there are English subtitles. However the subtitles not only translate dialogue but describe other sounds. Here is a non-exhaustive list of those subtitles. Indistinct shouting Munching Screaming Indistinct chatter Sword rasping Distant snarling Men whimpering Chain clanks Snarling Screaming continues Screaming intensifies Sucks teeth Amused gasp Horse neighs Thudding continues Men gasp Rumbling

We’re coming back to the world in floods of normalcy at the moment. One of my best friends was back in town on Thursday, and he came over for dinner and a drink. He was able to see our new home, I was able to cook for him, we were able to sit in our living room together and chat. We kept up chatting until just before midnight. We were all just so thankful to be able to have the kind of conversations you have with your friends in person when you’re relaxed.

I’ve been meeting my manager in the park every week during lockdown. He lived in a neighbourhood nearby and we both missed seeing people from work face-to-face, so it made sense. Plus the weather’s been good for the most part so it’s been nice to sit and have our catch up in the sun with either a coffee or a beer. Today I cycled there from the new house; it’s about fifteen minutes away.

It’s thirty degrees outside and we’re all, including the cat, feeling languid. The internet is down for much of South London, which adds to the general sense of stolid malaise. The past few days have been much more active. I’ve been buzzing around the house trying to make it a home bit by bit. It’s a tightrope doing the practicalities while basking in the glow of our fresh, new space. Try to sit in the airy new lounge without a care like you never could before, but also get that shoe rack and cutlery drawer insert ordered.

This morning I woke up in my own house to sunlight. I got up and took a shower, the water pressure was great. I sat at the kitchen table and listened to the news, and then practiced my Spanish for a while. I hung out some washing to dry. Nobody came along. I had forgotten how it feels to start your day quietly and at your own pace. The weekend was an endless blur of stress and back strain, but we’re in here now, a home of our own.

The Black Lives Matter protests have become the story of the day. Hundreds of thousands of people in cities all over the world have been demonstrating for over a week. We joined the end of a march in Brixton first, hearing about it from a friend who saw it pass through Kennington and cycling out to join the fray. It was the first crowd I’d been in in months. It made the fact that people were shouting in one voice even more striking.

We’ve picked a new house. It’s going to be a house! It’ll have a garden and stairs and space for the cat, space for us to work and relax. We’re leaving in three weeks unless some recalcitrant property manager or landlord gets in the way. Outside, COVID-19 measures had begun to relax and things had begun drifting slowly toward normal. Then a few days ago the US exploded with protests against police violence in response to the murder of a man named George Floyd by a policeman in Minnesota.

The quiet of Abney Park in Stoke Newington We’re getting ready to leave the house. The idea of moving out of this place and into one of our own, already a firm intention before lockdown began, has become a serious one again. Subtly depersonalised pictures of the room we’ve spent so much time in have been taken, and posted online. We are responsible for reviewing applications for our replacements.

The sound of the birds near the sea The restrictions on movement were lifted a bit. We’re allowed to sit down in the parks rather than hurry through them on the purpose of exercise. Almost immediately, tiny groups in sunglasses and with beers in hand have appeared. We are also allowed to drive a little way for our recreation. Emma drove us down to the cliffs in Sussex.

In some other countries they’ve been re-opening society, slowly. Here things are fraying; many are talking about making decisions for their own mental wellbeing all government advice besides. On Sunday we said, “We’ll see what the Prime Minister says tomorrow.” “…If we don’t do it by those dates, and if the alert level won’t allow it, we will simply wait and go on until we have got it right.” “We will come back from this devilish illness.