I first heard it on the radio, I wasn’t listening properly, I’m so bored with the news, but when I heard blogging, bloggers, scams, algorithms, WordPress, computers, victims, personas… I paid close attention. We know all about other people being scammed on line, paying out money, falling in love with a person who does not exist… losing all your money on a business scam. Of course it couldn’t happen to me or my fellow bloggers, we’re far too intelligent for that; we know some bloggers are not what they say they are, but we just ignore them and certainly don’t follow them. I was just about to write today’s blog when there was a knock at the door, a man and a woman stood on the doorstep holding out their ID. Her Majesty’s Cybercrime Home Security Force. I was amused, they wanted to interview little me, well that would make a good topic for my blog. They took it in turns to ask questions.
‘Do you possess a computer, do you use the internet… ‘ until finally we got to the crux of the matter ‘would you call yourself a blogger?’
‘Of course, I don’t call myself a blogger, I am a Blogger, Scribbletide and it’s not against the law, so why am I being subjected to this interrogation.’
‘We’re sorry to have to tell you Miss, Mrs… er Ms Scribbletide, but you have been scammed; the bloggers you associate with are not real.’
‘That’s okay, I know some are not, no problem, no harm to me.’
‘None of them are real, it’s a huge scam affecting national and international security and mental health.’ ‘Is this a joke, are you filming me for that television programme?’ ‘Please listen carefully, we are obliged to take you in for debriefing and health checks.’
‘Don’t be ridiculous I’m fine and I am not going anywhere.’
‘We know this must come as a great shock, none of the three thousand bloggers you follow are real; all set up by computer programmers as an experiment; there is no such thing as WordPress.’
‘I don’t understand, you mean all those Jills, Sues, Carols and Petes, Jims and Mikes are not real?’
‘Precisely and if it’s any comfort, you are alone…’
So what’s been happening to us all this week? Getting out and about, doing some gardening? Every country and every person seems to have different policies on Covid so let’s not even think about that. We could go to the beach ….
Whoops – it’s been so windy there’s no sand left on the beach. So we could go down to the river…
A ferry trip turned out to be like the old normal. No hand gel, no rules, no queues, no social distancing – well I was the only passenger – and pay cash, £1….
Perhaps we should go to the circus.
What I actually set out to do was go back to our writers’ group at the library for the first time in a year and a half. Almost normal, limited to six people so a bit of negotiating who is going to go each week. Kitchen and kettle out of bounds and library coffee machine a no go area. But the words of my off line writer friends are as witty and wise as ever. The other event of the day was to have coffee in Arcado Lounge, one of my favourite places, cheerful staff, relaxing atmosphere, more fun than Costa. Open at last, same as before, just more spaced out, luckily there is plenty of space….
In the meantime, back in the outside world life continues to be stranger than fiction and provides ideas for fiction. A burglar stole the gold rosary beads that Mary Queen of Scots took to her execution. They were taken from Arundel Castle and no one can figure how they got in or out. But anyone who enjoys horror stories will know that burglar will have more to worry about than being caught by the police – what mysterious powers will that rosary have, what spirits will be unleashed by this unholy act of theft?
So you are allowed to venture to more places now, as long as you have booked in advance, taken six negative Covid tests, have a vaccination certificate and don’t mind queuing. To save stress why not visit places and attractions nobody else will want to visit?
As the ground shook violently tiny fungal filaments sent out warnings and pleas for help. Mighty roots that had lain undisturbed for centuries trembled. Then there was a silent scream as she felt herself cleaved in three from the highest twig down, down, down to her deepest roots.
‘Giles, I pleaded with you not to do this, how could you, that tree was planted by your ancestor.’
‘He planted loads of trees, that’s why we have woodland; one less tree on the edge won’t make any difference. What will make a difference is the fortune that rich idiot is paying us for digging up an old oak tree. Enough to keep the estate going for another year.’
‘What if it doesn’t work, how can it work, transplanting a huge ancient tree into his back garden in London.’
‘That’s his problem, we’ve got the money, no refund.’
The residents of Oak Avenue had thought they had seen everything in the past year. Despite their many objections the new neighbour had demolished the pleasant square of sheltered bungalows for the elderly and built his dream house. Noise, dust and the very real fear their own homes would collapse in a man made earthquake had created a nightmare. As peace settled they gazed upon the geometric glass edifice of jumbled storeys, rumoured to have a split level basement with a kitchen, cinema, offices, snooker room or swimming pool, depending on who you talked to. Some rather liked the building and imagined it would be elegant inside with the central atrium apparently bringing light to all the rooms and the basement. But they had not been invited in to look so it was not welcome in their avenue. Now at nine am on Tuesday morning local social media had alerted them to the closure of all surrounding roads, to facilitate an oversized delivery to the new house. Amid jokes about huge Amazon parcels everyone was out to watch, especially when a television filming unit was spotted round the corner.
Never had she been horizontal; survivor of many storms, now she was fallen, brutally felled. Once tall and stout, one being, now she was three. But as she found herselves raised up again she realised they were a sacred number, a holy trinity with a new power. Her roots trembled for a different reason now, she must gain a hold and use her strength.
Harry smiled at his scowling neighbours as the cameras focused on him and the reporter asked the questions everyone wanted answers to; why, how, where?
‘The only way to uproot and transport such a huge tree was to slice it in three vertically and put it on three over length loaders. Now London has a bit more greenery and I have improved the neighbourhood. ….yes we dug down so deep to accommodate the basement there is a good tree sized hole, just like buying a shrub from the garden centre, but on a bigger scale. It will work, the bark will join up again.’
Harry’s wife looked out at the designer garden. The ancient tree just off centre enough to look natural. Harry was clever, she hoped he hadn’t been too clever this time, but her new home was fantastic, just a pity the neighbours weren’t very friendly. As they enjoyed their morning swim and clambered out to sit in the jacuzzi she noticed the pool level seemed lower, Harry promised to check the pumps. Back in her office with the skylight view of the tree she thought she saw a crack in the wall. She went up to the kitchen to make coffee and wondered if that was a hairline crack in the window. In the garden she felt better as she nursed her coffee. Two weeks and the tree was showing tiny acorn buds and the leaves were green. She touched the healed bark and felt happy.
The next morning the pool was lower and she noticed something strange at the bottom of the pool. Harry said it was just twigs fallen off the poolside plants, but she insisted on diving down the six foot depth. She tugged and tugged, but had to come up for air.
‘Harry, I think that is a tree root pushing up through the tiles.’ ’Don’t be ridiculous, I’ll go down and look.’ When he didn’t come up again she wondered if he had had a heart attack and as she slipped into the water in panic she heard an almighty shattering.
Oak Avenue was a scene of devastation. The neighbours’ first thoughts as they heard the horrendous crash of glass was that the tree had fallen on the house, but it was still standing, surrounded by the debris of concrete and glass. The fire brigade and police assumed a gas explosion or bomb, but the building seemed to have imploded rather than exploded and it would not be easy to search for survivors.
Monday marked the penultimate stage on the English roadmap out of Covid and like the real paper road maps of old, there are lots of creases and you can’t read the parts where the folds are. Most of us are convinced the roadmap will be folded up again, but in the meantime…
I didn’t go anywhere exciting on Monday as I had a hospital appointment, but there was the hope of rounding it off with a treat. The hospital destination was the furthest away in our conurbation, but the easiest to get to. The journey encompasses almost the whole of the bus route and takes an hour, but stops right outside the hospital. Every seat has a phone charger so I could catch up with blogs and emails – if anyone reads any strange comments from me that is because it’s not easy tapping on a phone jolting along. I had a pocket full of coins as it was too early to use my bus pass – easily accessible coat pocket as I didn’t want to be fumbling around in my purse and exasperating the driver. I still exasperated him as he could not hear what I was saying with my mask on and behind his plexiglass screen. When he did grasp my destination I could not hear how much he said with his mask on.
The hospital is built halfway up a hill, a delight for hospital architects whose main aim is to make it impossible for anyone to find their way around. They now have different colour routes, plus instructions on your hospital letters. I had been this way before so no problem, upstairs, follow purple route, out the back door and down a long ramp then off to a totally separate building. When I was in the waiting room a lady came to the reception desk and said ‘I am completely lost, I can’t find the car park. ‘ She was advised to ‘go back upstairs to the Ladybird Suite and start all over again.’ After my appointment was finished the receptionist asked if I could find my way back. I smugly assured her I could as I had done it before, forgetting that last time I mysteriously ended up at the north entrance, which fortunately came back out onto the main road. This time I was aiming for Costa Coffee near the main entrance, but I did not pass any familiar landmarks such as shops, glass dome, information desk. Luckily a person pushing a trolley asked if I was lost and directed me to the nearest stairs. Of course, if you go upstairs on the outward route it helps to go down on the return route. At last I reached my destination.
I am not a Costa addict, preferring to visit independent places and I don’t like takeaway cups, but even though the coffee was lukewarm by the time I had checked in with my NHS app and realised you had to ask for sugar, it tasted wonderful. At last I was actually sitting inside on the first day coffee shops and cafes were open properly again. I nearly forgot to take my mask off, that felt strange and I exchanged remarks with the lady at the next table at how excited we were to be in a coffee shop.
Monday is England’s next step on the ‘roadmap’ to normality. Wherever you are you may be closing down or opening up or more likely your leaders are doing another u-turn. Normality is a long way off and though you might read messages on line from your favourite places – ‘Welcome Back’ – do they really mean it? Here are some nice places you probably won’t be able to go to…
Bridges open, but one way only, bad luck if you’re on the wrong side of the river.
Dreaming about eating out? Stick to dreamland, everywhere else is fully booked.
Must have beach app on phone to check if you are allowed to visit.
Lighthouses – good for social distancing, but only one visitor at a time.
Someone else got their first, closed until further notice.
Cruises currently limited to passengers who have been vaccinated and are good at rowing.
Wales, different rules to England, you may not be allowed to cross the border.
Cathedrals are always interesting to visit, but this may be as near as you can get. Enter only if you are fully masked and have had a negative Covid test.
Museums are popular outings, especially if it’s raining, but book in advance for your thirty minute slot, book separately in advance for a cafe fifteen minute slot.
Scottish holy island – ferry only goes once a day. Scotland has different rules to England and Wales so you may not be allowed across the border… what a shame, you would really have loved Iona…
National Trust houses always popular for an outing; they are opening up again – of course you have to book in advance and once inside will have to walk round in single file, one way only, no stopping or turning back…
Chances of getting inside here for a look round? Very unlikely…. unless you live there.
I had never heard of the charity Therapups, nor had Google, but one of my late aunt’s dog loving friends sent me the postal address. Aunty had requested no flowers for her funeral, just a donation to her favourite charity. I sent a small cheque and a brief letter with my address included, requesting the next copy of their newsletter, which was apparently going to feature a tribute to my aunt.
A week later I received a hefty envelope, almost a parcel, with a gushing letter thanking me for my generosity. The newsletter was to follow shortly, but in the meantime they were pleased to send me a Therapups key ring with dog whistle attached and one hundred biodegradable poop bags in a designer carry case; all in the distinctive charity colours puce pink and sunflower yellow. I don’t own a dog, but they weren’t to know that. Also included was a colourful booklet explaining the charity’s work; it seems they provided therapy and assistance dogs not covered by other better known charities.
A strange place to put a gate? Rather like the internet, many of us don’t know which gate to go through, if we should go through it or what to do when we get to the other side. At present I am still using igate -I mean iPad orMePad…. and I don’t trust it with too many words….
So let’s go underwater for a change. I know there are bloggers who actually go underwater, but I just listened to BBC Radio 4. Book of the Week in five parts and I only needed to listen to the first part to learn something about an amazing creature…
Philosopher Peter Godfrey-Smith explores what is known about octopus intelligence in ‘Other Minds: the Octopus and the Evolution of Intelligent Life’. The first part concluded with the words ‘Your best chance of meeting Alien Intelligence is to meet an octopus.’
The gist of what I have heard so far is this. Octopus seem to be very intelligent, even when assessed by our limited land based human perspective. Our common ancestor was a very basic tape worm living at the bottom of the sea many trillions of years ago. Since then humans and octopus have evolved along totally different lines. So intelligent life has evolved in more that one totally different species; all life on earth has not been totally about aiming towards a human pinnacle of excellence. If any of you have met an octopus or perhaps just eaten one please add your enlightened comments. If any reader is actually an octopus it will be very interesting to read your comments.
My sister in Australia received this important piece of parchment.
What mysterious parcel was this? I had sent her a package; a few of my ‘business cards’. Being mean I did not send them with a gift or greetings card, but in the smallest envelope I could find to save on postage. To be fair to the Border Force it could have contained microchips or whatever spies use these days. My only worry had been that the tiny package would be lost in the post – not exactly a worry as I had another few thousand at home. Now I know the Australian Border Force could be on to me and shall have to be careful what I write.
Floralia, the festival of Flora, the Roman goddess of flowers, was held from 27th April to 3rd May during the Roman Republic era 509 BC to 27 BC. I think we should resurrect this fun week, so my Chreastermas Tree has become a Floralia Tree. I tied a ribbon on for everyday of Lockdown and I am now taking one off everyday. Welcome to the famous Gardens of Tidalscribe.