• KS

Covid 19 - the view from Casa Frugal III

And on it goes, uneventful week sliding into uneventful week.

This is not of course entirely true. Events, both national and local, have broken the monotony; things have transpired that in their own way have altered the lockdown landscape. First golf was allowed, then takeaway coffees. A major rescue package for the Arts has been announced, and the Minack Theatre has held its first post lockdown show. These are both cheering developments.

Yet it doesn’t feel like normality. If anything it has some of the freighted stillness of low water on a windless day – we can see the whole of the beach, but everybody knows the tide will come back in, and the sandcastles that we build and decorate with shells during our brief hours of play will be submerged once more. There are already signs of this. Masks in shops are set to be compulsory. Towns and fruit farms where the virus flares up are being put into special measures.

Amidst all this, an oddly biblical vignette from the floor below. A couple of weeks back a pot plant appeared on the landing outside Number six. This in itself is unusual for Stannary House – we are an undemonstrative lot and don’t generally go in for titivating our communal space. It was an odd plant, too, a little too big for its pot, slender and perpendicular, and clearly growing day by day, Then for a week or so nobody seemed to be watering it, and my anxiety at observing a slow death, if only of a plant, was almost enough to overcome my innate reluctance to interfere with my neighbour’s affairs. I contemplated sneaking down at midnight with a jug.

Fortunately it revived, having clearly received some attention from somebody. It was tall and pale, with broad thin leaves, and it was now as big as I was, still rooted in this small pot the size of a child’s beach bucket. The top seemed to be thriving, but the lower leaves were growing yellow and droopy. Because it was my height, and I passed close by it on my way up and down the stair each day,

it took quite an effort not to wish it good day and enquire after its health.

Then one day it was gone, and in its place was a plastic bag of compost, which has been sitting on the landing outside Number 6 for a week now. On the largely blank canvas that is the Stannary House events board, this represents a significant splash of colour, and I find myself thinking about it more than is probably good for me.

So is it worth trying to do anything significant in this short window of opportunity? For me the strongest urge is to travel. Brittany Ferries have re-started crossings, but they’re not taking foot passengers. There’s flying again from Newquay, and friends have hopped it to the continent, reasoning perhaps that it’s going to be a long dark winter, and that a bit of capital in the memory bank might help to get them through it. I had kind of sworn off flying, but that was in the last crisis, the climate-related one.

I tentatively approached friends in Scotland as to how a visit up there might be received, and they tentatively responded. Almost as soon as I voiced it, the proposal seemed daft – a two or three day progress up the spine of the UK brushing through service stations, campsites and supermarkets on the way, collecting virus points as I go. Here in Cornwall we’re torn between wanting to help the tourist economy and those who depend upon it, and fearing what the tourists will bring in their luggage.

I’m going to stay put for a bit.

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