Friday 27 August 2021

Is this still here?

Blogging urges have been pretty thin on the ground as you can tell. I nearly put pen to paper, or rather fingers to keyboard, a few days ago and then thought why not wait just a few more days and make it a full month. Good to have a break actually, readers of blogs should not underestimate the needless pressure that writers of blogs seem to put themselves under. It was nice to ignore this for a while.

So, what occureth? In truth not a great deal. We are still in 2021 and normal service has not been resumed. I suppose for some people the pandemic and its effect on their lives is not particularly noticeable. For others everything has changed. I sit somewhere in the middle I think. Some elements of my life have changed beyond recognition whilst others have been brought into much sharper relief. Against that is a steady backdrop of good old-fashioned normal - the  seasons in the garden and the greenhouse, the local patch, the family. A lot of what we all need lies very close to home, and that's how to get through it. I could spend time decrying my loss of diversity of experience, but it's better to focus on the positive change.

A few weeks ago I went to the office for the first time in many many months. Well over a year in fact. I left a little later than normal to avoid peak commuter time but on reflection that probably doesn't happen any more. Mask wearing on the tube was at best sporadic, we are either a nation of fools or of arrogant pricks, perhaps both, but I was able to sit some distance from the next passenger and felt fairly comfortable. My desk was exactly as I had left it, as was my filing cabinet. To be clear this is not a good thing - the 15 month old cereal had not aged well and the chili sauce had turned brown. But I was pleased to discover some shoes I had not seen since March 2020, and my office chair is so so nice compared to the one I have at home. In truth it was not the full going back to work experience; occupancy remains extremely low and there was none of the buzz associated with several hundred people. Meeting rooms were empty, corridors stretched into the distance, the coffee points were largely silent. But I did get to see a few colleagues, real 3D people who I used to see daily, and we chatted about our common experiences of the peculiar world in which we now live. Nobody we knew had had it easy, and for many it has been extremely hard. 

Canary Wharf seemed unchanged, surprisingly busy given the paucity of people on my floor, and this put an unexpected spring in my step. I bought a coffee and almost didn't care about the crazy price. I went and had lunch - wow, an £8 sandwich - I had forgotten about those! It is hard to pin down my exact feelings - spending most weeks in Canary Wharf for over two decades has made it easy to loathe. I think I can best describe it as feeling like a grownup again. Of having choices, of being more in control of what I was doing. I am under no illusions of course, life as we knew it remains a distant proposition. If all that changes between now and 2023 is that I have to go back to the daily commute then on balance that will be a further deterioration, but at that moment it felt good. Better than good actually, it was fantastic.

I can't exactly say this was a pleasure, but in a very British way it wasn't too bad

It goes without saying that work continues to suck up far more time than ideally I would like; I am very tired and a long way from retirement. Luckily there has also been a fair amount of birding of the sort that helps to keep me sane. Well, sane-ish. Mostly this has been in Wanstead, where my year list continues to go really rather well - now 120, my second best ever, and with three months to go. This really deserves a post of its own if I can bring myself to write it. I also managed a break in Fife, the COVID era holiday destination of choice, and got stuck into local birding there as well, which as far as I am concerned feels like foreign birding, or at the very least a close substitute. Hugely enjoyable, including wonderful viz-mig and exciting sea-watching. And all of it recorded in eBird, which gives rise to yet more potential blogging as I feel I want to extol its virtues and potential pitfalls yet again. I also feel I need to say something extremely derogatory about snails and slugs. And about dogs. I won't say the wordy juices are yet flowing freely, but there is definitely something afoot.