|Highams Park Lake|
|LGQ socially distanced|
|John Bishop's music|
|Metfield community shop|
|St Johns Church, Metfield|
|Great Malvern Priory|
In March I attended the Isle of Skye go tournament in Portree; as it happened, the last face-to-face tournament to be held in Britain before lockdown. I missed the last one in 2018 owing to bad weather, and it was good to be back. The weather allowed some sightseeing, though towards the end hunkering down in the Tongadale hotel was the better option. The return trip, via Inverness and Gatwick Airports, was on the 18th. Covid was already in the news, though Portree at that time was one of the safest places. The first lockdown came on 20th. If it had come sooner, as many think it ought to have done, I and my friends would have been stuck rather a long way from home. So on that one occasion I was grateful for our so-called government's general "Too little, too late" policy in tackling Covid.
So, in for a long period at home. To start with Judith and I ventured out only for exercise. We are fortunate in having Epping Forest and a number of pleasant parks within reach. Kind neighbours and the internet provided our shopping. Gradually, as things seemed to improve, we ventured out for shopping, and trips in the car. But my favourite activities, London Gallery Quire and the Wanstead Go Club were suddenly denied me, and remain so. The quire did manage just one socially distanced meeting, when about half of us showed up for a sing through of favourite items. Apart from that, we meet fornightly at our regular rehearsal time (Wednesday at 7.30 pm) for a Zoom meet. At these, we have attracted a few hangers on from other West Gallery quires.
What to do with all this time, with few outside commitments? As with many people, declutterring was high on the list. I have found the local Freecycle branches useful for this. My one reservation is about the discourtesy of members who claim to want something, and then never turn up to collect it. Still, I have more or less converted out front room from a dumping ground to a usable space.
But my main activity has been in the musical field. To start with, I revised all 1188 of my West Gallery files, brought them all into what I regard as my house style, and collected them all together, together with a suitable speadsheet, onto a memory stick marked Legacy. In the event of my removal from the scene for whatever reason, I hope that the fruit of about 25 years' labour could be made available to anyone interested. I also listed separately my own compositions. That all took about six weeks
The next job was to finish off work on my second self-published book, John Bishop's Parish Church Music. My first book, The Divine Companion (an edition of Henry Playford's seminal West Gallery anthology) sold more copies than I had dared hope for on the internet. I am hoping that this will do the same. I just wonder if anyone will imagine that the well known contemporary comedian will be thought by anyone to have turned his hand to composing church music? No, maybe not. My next project is a complete edition of William Knapp's music. This is well under way, but several months lie ahead. There are 90 pieces to be edited, and variations in the various editions to be noted. I can do much of this at home from facsimile copies of Knapp's three publications.
During times when the lockdown was lifted, Judith and I managed to get away for a couple of short breaks. The first, in June, was in self-catering accommodation in the village of Metfield, in north Suffolk, where we has friends to visit. The most noteworthy feature of this village is its shop, run by volunteers following the closure of a commercial shop. Villagers from all around patronise it, and it stocks a surprisingly good range. I wish some volunteers would do the same for the local pub, which like so many country pubs has been closed for some time. There is also a substantial church, but unlike several others in the area it was closed for Covid safety.
The other visit was a long weekend in September to a B&B establishment in the Malvern area. The picture gives a misleading impression of the weather. It was mostly wet and windy, but we managed a few walks and visits to Great Malvern. It is an attractive town, whose best feature is the mediaeval Priory Church, which turned out to be well worth a visit. Here Covid care was perhaps just a little over the top. If you sat down anywhere, you had to leave a small green poker chip on your seat. This was then soon sanitised, in case you had brought in the virus on your nethermost parts, which could then be transferred to some other visitor's nethermost parts. I doubt if this is one of the main means of transmission.
In October the progress of my projects was interrupted by the need for emergency admission to the local hospital, where after a few days' observation it was decided that I needed major abdominal surgery. The treatment itself went well, and I am expected eventually to make a full recovery. What wasn't so good were conditions in the recovery ward; appalling food, provided by Serco of all people, and a noisy environment day and night. The nurses though I was recovering well for my age, and I got home as soon as I could.
Judith's lockdown activites have been working on various academic articles for publication, relating to the material of her PhD thesis; and dealing with all manner of Quaker business in Britain and France, mainly through Zoom. Recently she has had a third task; looking after a recovering post-operative invalid, carried out with her usual goodwill and thoroughness.
Sam and El, as our daughter-in law now likes to be known, have moved away from Cardiff to a flat in Westwood House, Droitwich. She is partly incapacitated by a frozen shoulder, but is able to continue her story writing, and wins various prizes from time to time. He is doing well in his new employment, digitally marketing for a firm whose business is helping students to get places studying medicine. He is able to work entirely on line, and keeps in touch with his gaming friends in the same manner. I partner him at bridge once a week, once again, on line.
Health and happiness to all!