Stay at home, stay at home, stay at home!
As I said last week, whilst I’m not self-isolating I am definitely getting out less, a bit contrary to my normal exhortations to myself to get out more.
So I look to my rather empty calendar for inspiration and find at the end of last week it gets all medical. First of all a blood test to assess my kidney function for gout drugs. All dead easy – the nurse complimented me on my veins and I remarked that when I was in W Middlesex a few years ago recovering from having my burst appendix seen to, the doctors could never find a vein but the nurses never had a problem. Flattery rarely gets me anywhere but nobody can say I don’t try.
As I left the doctor’s, someone asked me if it was Pegasus parked outside, which I confirmed. I had an email later saying there were problems with her prescription and she really didn’t want to be bussing about picking up prescriptions. I offered to act as bike courier (it’s nice to turn my exercise sessions into something a bit useful) but a neighbour helped her out. Ah, neighbours. I think we’re all trying to help each other out in these horrible days.
On the way home I treated myself to a Taste the Difference baguette from Sainsbury’s. These are distinguished by being crisp to the point of seemingly being encased in concrete. Anyway I opened it with my angle grinder and inserted a slice of turkey and started chomping, whereupon I noticed something even harder and sharper in my gob. I discovered that my cantilever crown had given up the ghost and it was not a good plan to keep chewing.
Rather to my surprise, my dentist agreed to stick it on again (I was wary of using superglue) and this was my task for Friday – well, hers really.
Having voluntarily given up gym, Pegasus is taking quite a hammering each day as I try to keep my body functioning as well as it can. I have started avoiding the river in places because it is now more crowded than High Streets, with bikers, joggers and doggers. Doggy walkers that is.
One of the places I avoid is the far end of Dukes Meadows in Chiswick, which seems to be particularly crowded. I sometimes worry that people are congregating for a KKK meeting but I think the resemblance is accidental as they never move or burn crosses.
On Sunday I ‘attended’ my first Zoom meeting with a small bunch of friends – one in Montparnasse, one in Totnes, one in Jersey and one in North London (I think). Worked really well and the pictures from Paris very striking. My friend is only allowed out for 20-30 minutes, self-certified to go shopping (or the doctors) and there is strong policing – very different from what we have here.
Suitably emboldened, I hosted a Zoom meeting for FoodBox trustees on Monday afternoon. This also worked very well and we discussed how to keep the service going. We have had a lot of people offering to volunteer and our treasurer has been busy DBS checking and showing them the ropes, a bit tedious but very necessary. As of today, Thursday, all’s well, except the said treasurer, who has been the most active trustee by far, is self-isolating with flu-like symptoms, which is quite a worry.
Monday evening was the Watermans (technically Hounslow Arts Trust) AGM, again done by Zoom with about 15 trustees and staff members in attendance. For obvious reasons revenue will fall off a cliff in March and there’s lots to be decided about programme (in the absence of a physical programme), staff, finances etc.
On Tuesday morning I called into the FoodBox as I went about my exercise ride and discovered there had been quite a deluge of donations from the Cherish Shelter so I knuckle down to actually do some actual real work for once in my life, sorting, marking, recording and putting away the donations.
Tuesday afternoons we are now having a regular conference call amongst the cabinet and senior officers. Not using Zoom but trad teleconference facilities which I personally loathe for a large gathering but we managed to get through a decent update. There is a huge amount of contingency work going on, including development of the Community Hub, which will be operational from this week – today I think, watch for announcements.
In my portfolio it is heartening that we are still managing to offer a full service over both waste and recycling and street cleaning/maintenance. We have a very low level of absence amongst staff and they are managing to cope despite much more waste being put out for collection. We think this is because a) people are working from home/self-isolating/on furlough; b) they are taking the opportunity to clear out the cupboard under the stairs; c) they realise that a lot of the food they panic bought 2 weeks ago is now going off, uneaten. We’ll keep up the service as long as we have people but don’t be surprised if there are problems. The waste crews, like shop workers and of course NHS and care workers are amongst the unsung heroes of this crisis. In the meantime, if you do clear out the cupboard, please don’t overload the bins with stuff that will keep in a black bag (or whatever) till the crisis is over.
Wednesday I get an email from somebody self-isolating who can’t get any shopping because the supermarket delivery services are all sold out. I agree to do some shopping on her behalf and manage to get everything, though not in one shop. Gives me an excuse to visit Hammond’s excellent butcher/fishmonger/Deli in the little road by Kew Bridge, where I’m pleased to see a strict ‘two in the shop’ policy.
Later I have a phone call from the doctor. Apparently I do still have working kidneys (that’s a relief) and apparently yes, my Uric acid levels are a bit high, hence the gout. I explain to her that I understand the diet recommendations for gout, that you steer clear of alcohol, red meat, seafood and cauliflower and I assure her that cauliflower is firmly off my menu. She prescribes me Allopurinol which is the standard remedy, though various people have recommended various potions based on cherries, and indeed cherries themselves.
On the way home from my bike ride I go through Gunnersbury Park and realise it’s a long time since I‘ve been to the top section north of the mansion and whilst my back was turned the sports hub building is nearly complete and there’s a shiny new car park to service it.
Cycling home I go through The Butts and serendipity causes me to bump into (at 2m distance of course) Sally from the Hounslow Chamber of Commerce who says the Holiday Inn is closing tonight and have a quantity of food left over which maybe the FoodBox can use? I enquire, but they’re snowed under with a big donation from GSK. It’s mainly perishable stuff and I arrange to deliver instead to Hounslow Soup Kitchen, where they tell me they have delivered nearly 200 meals today.
So Thursday morning is the soup kitchen, a secret rendezvous to lick up some masks for the FoodBox then back to blog. This evening I have three conferences – Lampton360 board, Foodbox and Hounslow Cycling. Better give my PC a rest and my body some exercise.
I’ve been asked to make a couple of announcements:
First, a plea from the London Ambulance Service –“We would be really appreciative if you could share our call to action; asking people to visit http://nhs.uk/coronavirus rather than calling 111 and to only call 999 in a genuine life-threatening emergency." They are inundated with calls and this is getting in the way of people who really need advice or an ambulance.
Second, a plea from a local couple: “As two pensioners living alone we are incredibly grateful that Morrisons are offering pensioners and other vulnerable people the opportunity to shop in relatively safe isolation between 7am and 8am.
On Morrison’s website there is also a notice that the store is about to be closed and demolished.”
I can’t find this on the website but we all know there are plans to redevelop the Morrisons site. I don’t think this is going to happen any time very soon but I’ll place on record my appreciation of the store in our Brentford life. Pleased also that they’re supporting our vulnerable people and also that they have introduced orderly queueing etc – well done Morrisons.
Third, one from TfL:
Stay at home.
Do not travel unless your journey is absolutely essential.
If you are a key worker and your journey is absolutely essential, the busiest times are 05:45-07:30 and 16:00-17:30.
If possible, please avoid these times.
Finally, one from me. Stay safe – we need fit and well Brentonians to continue showing the rest of the world how to live.
Cllr Guy Lambert
March 27, 2020