B and I spent the afternoon together in her new home and then walked to the sea as the evening light enticed us. It was a day made all the more special because I haven’t seen her for over two months, and normally we see each other at least once a week. Normally we hug and kiss hello, but we didn’t. I love Bernie because she makes me laugh and we see absurdity in so much and say outrageous things to each other, knowing that we share a love of the absurd and darkly comic. Also she is so empathic, and loving but has this tough south London side, and she sort of sparkles. She always says my family are like something from Howard’s End, which I find so endearing.
The atmosphere in Hastings felt lighter. It made us sad to see the pubs all shut as normally on an evening like that they would be heaving. They were like ghost ships. Some fish and chip shops were open and people were standing outside in civilised distanced manner waiting to order. People seemed happy. Small gatherings of families were on the beach enjoying a brave evening swim in the shimmering sea. It was so rarefied and like a cloak of silky mercury.
I am so grateful that I have been in the UK during this time with so much more relative freedom. My friend Dr William Bird has been advising the government on physical activity during this pandemic and I am so grateful for his voice of reason. And yet, still people are up in arms about people visiting the beach even though it is the safest place and so very easy to sit at safe distance. It is simply unbelievable how easily people have descended into fear, blame and finger-pointing. Trying to keep the faith that we will come through this in eventual calm and love.