Ten days ago, Long-Suffering Wife (LSW) and I went to a concert in Bath. We were aware of the emerging concerns about how Covid-19 spreads and the increasing need for social distancing. Indeed, two locals who we planned to go with opted out because of their concerns. However, we were confident we could go to the concert and still stay broadly within the then current rules and, with judicious use of soap and sanitiser, minimise risk to ourselves and others.
Co-incidentally, two very old friends who are visiting the UK from the USA were due to be picked up by us from Bath the following day. This was a further health risk but one we calculated to take because it was a very rare chance for LSW to meet one of her goddaughters. So we not only went to Bath but, co-joined the two events and stayed overnight at a fairly central, good value hotel before bringing goddaughter and her mother for a brief stay at our house.
Bath Abbey Outside At Night And Inside
All this seems relatively reckless ten days on. However, Bath was radiant in the sunshine, we ate splendidly at Landrace Bakery and Beckford Bottle Shop, took in a couple of exhibitions and saw Faeland at Chapel Arts, all of which was rather wonderful. Then we had a lovely 24 hours with our friends before they returned to the US and self-isolation. We all got away with it, remain uninfected (at time of writing) and finished normal life (for a while at least) on a high.
As it turned out the concert was sparsely attended so we could sit 3-4 metres away from anyone else. It was uplifting to see Faeland again. They were in good form and their song ‘All My Swim’ is an absolute favourite. I was fortunate to meet the band at the interval to say so to directly to them. What is great is that LSW and I love them equally and, Covid-19 permitting, we will plan to see them again in the autumn.
Wandering the streets of Bath was relatively minimal risk in terms of infection but we also ventured into the Francis Gallery (a lovely bright, airy space showing ceramics by Paul Philp) and then the Holbourne Museum.
The Holbourne Museum is currently showing an exhibition of Grayson Perry work from his ‘pre-therapy years’. Having read his book ‘The Descent of Man’ a couple of years ago, I feel I understand a little about him and his outré leanings. Even though I find his work interesting rather than attractive, I was glad of the opportunity to see this show and to learn some more.
The exhibition was very well laid out and the work was well documented and explained (often in Grayson’s own words). Each item was complex and demanded study. Even though the exhibition was small relative to some I have seen in London in recent years, it was dense with information and the reactions it inspired. I enjoyed the weirdness Grayson invests in his work but also craftsmanship. It was fun, too, to spot the recurrence of themes through the exhibition and to map them to those I recalled in other work of his that I have seen previously.
The rest of the museum was well worth spending time in (and the 2 metre social distancing was easy to maintain). The museum has a good collection of 17th century paintings from the Low Countries. What LSW and I liked best though, were the collections of highly crafted stump work tapestries cum embroideries, Japanese netsuke and other ornaments. Some were directly on show in cabinets but once I discovered the drawers under these I, felt I was uncovering a wonderful treasure trove.
Ten days on and we are doing our social distancing more intensely. Youngest Son has joined us from London where his business has ground to a halt. We are ‘battening down the hatches’ and wondering how many new terms like ‘social distancing’ and ‘self-isolation’ are going to enter the Oxford English Dictionary during this viral outbreak.
Last week, I pitied the health and other key workers trying to find food in the shops while holding down their vital jobs. Those made jobless recently and those, like me, who are retired, have time on their hands. They are able to devote time to finding what they feel they need. Indeed, some probably shop for entertainment and for something to do rather than in a panic. Whatever, the nearby shops were almost bereft of fresh fruit and vegetables last week.
Local home store cupboards must now be full since the shops were less busy and fuller of goods this morning. I just hope now that those who have purchased so much in recent days actually use the food they bought and don’t waste it.
Time Now For Local Walks In Countryside That Is Empty Except For Sheep And Birds
For a while at least, there won’t be any more trips out like that to Bath. In fact, LSW and I are now considering cancelling what we can of our recently booked walking holiday down the first third of the South West Coastal Path and week in Padstow to celebrate LSW’s birthday in June. Local walking and gardening are the main entertainments for me now. Fortunately the weather has turned sunny and warmer just in time. Stay safe…..