On the way down the hill, I pass a man who looks as though he’s been out all night; battered wincing face, booze blotched complexion, dark glasses protecting from the glare of pale April sunlight. He marches grimly towards the sound of psychic gunfire, carrying an appeasing bouquet of flowers upside down in his fist in the same way you might carry a mallet.
Approaching the steep and teetering top of Haydon Close with the last lot of leaflets and there is a startlingly fresh cluster of daffodils, still clean and bright; a belated flowering in a higher altitude. Hints of snow line and time warp.
The little round woollen hat worn by a Buddhist monk on the 183 bus is on the beige side of saffron. Possibly indicating that he is a doctrinal moderate. The middle way of the middle way?
On the lunchtime Radio news, the update of the horrifying situation in India – people dying on the streets outside hospitals, a new viral variant now killing younger people and children, a black market in oxygen, desperate families trying to find any place for sick loved ones, or even a place to cremate them – is followed by a bloke from the hospitality trade calling for earlier and wider easing of restrictions to get business going and money flowing, because they think its all over. Cutting straight from one to the other is morally and emotionally dizzying. It reminds me of an edition of “Nationwide”- the BBCs early evening “news magazine” programme in the early seventies – in which a grave interview about a famine in Bangladesh was followed instantly with the presenter* turning straight to camera, making eye contact with the viewer in a horribly intimate way, swapping his serious look for something chummily happy and, with the air of relief of a man returning to the comforting insularity of his “normal” day to day preoccupations, announced …”NOW, holiday traffic!”
*Michael Barrett, for it was he.