You want to go somewhere else but there’s nowhere to go. That’s the conversation of the moment. London is quiet, the mas(k)uerade continues, whether it’s on or off, here or there. I hardly go anywhere so it hardly matters. My mother made me a nice mask and I’ve washed it a couple of times, much against government advice. I wear it out to Sainsbury’s now. The theatres are shut, I don’t even know what’s on in the cinema or whether I want to go there. I believe my gym may be open but I’m thinking of pausing my membership.
Last Sunday I went to Shoreditch House, at which I’ve built up nearly £300 worth of credit and had a slap-up, proper Sunday lunch with Bob. We had the veggie option which was a ‘Mushroom Wellington’ with cauliflower cheese, a selection of veg and roast potatoes. We chose a nice bottle of wine because we had both celebrated our respective birthdays in lockdown and felt we deserved to spend £10 more than we would on drink. The food came in five minutes and was a bit cold. The ten tables that were occupied due to social distancing were families with young children. Nothing against young children, I just don’t want them around when I’m having a belated birthday lunch. The circular bar was completely empty. The bill came and it was £92, which is, on average, what I currently spend on groceries and wine in a week. It was an obscene amount of money to be spending on a mediocre lunch. It had been so long since we had both been out to eat, I’d forgotten just how much food costs when you haven’t cooked it yourself.
I put an ad on NextDoor to find a local pianist because singing along to my iPhone via my portable PA just isn’t the same as performing with a human being. I got an instant reply from Joe, an established jazz pianist, who could, pre-lockdown, be found tickling the ivories at Claridges, the Savoy and the Dorchester. He came over and for two hours we performed jazz standards together to the point where my neighbours started clapping. After he sent a message over Facebook to say how much he enjoyed himself. I suspect that, if we could both be bothered to get our act together, I could organise a socially distanced concert in my garden for 10 or, at a push, 12. Maybe I will. My mother, who makes lovely silver jewellery, has nowhere to sell it since all the craft fairs at which she usually would have exhibited, have been cancelled. I told her if I have a concert, she can have a table. Singing & Shopping on a Sunday afternoon. It has a ring to it.
But back to the question of where would you go if you could leave the country? What’s city living all about if you can’t enjoy it? New York, London. My two favourite places and I haven’t been to the former for a year now and, if it wasn’t for my newfound love of cycling, I’d never venture further than West Hampstead and it’s surrounding. My friend Tix is looking at a small town in Fuertaventura we visited many years ago called El Cortillo. You can find an apartment there for about 450 euro a month and the weather is warm 9 months a year. He joined a Facebook group of ex-pats now living there and, for a while, everyone was raving about the place. Then the government imposed a lockdown on anyone returning from Spain and the overall tone became darker, with members complaining about how the British were to blame for just about everything. Maybe Spain’s not such a great idea, after all. The Far East seems too far and Bob’s not a great fan of the cuisine. The States? Don’t even get me started… I’ve yet to meet anyone with a satisfactory answer to where to go.
Years ago, I had a dream of running a small hotel on the west coast of Mexico with half a dozen rooms or so. I imagined myself swanning around in vintage Pucci style kaftans, having to make no more challenging a decision than what the guests would like to eat that evening. Then, in May 2014, I became an Airbnb host and learned, firsthand, just how demanding people can be, even those spending only £25/night on a single room in a lovely, clean flat just two stops from Euston Station. I came to the conclusion that as hospitable as I thought I was, I wasn’t actually cut out to work in the hotel industry. By the way, did I mention I’m looking for a lodger?
I’ve yet to work out what retirement looks like or where I’ll be living if I ever get there. Right now, that seems very far off.
Enough procrastinating for now, I’ve got work to do.
If you like reading this, then tell your friends and spread the love around. I’d really appreciate that.
Enjoy your Sunday, wherever you are.
Stay safe & well,