Remember Easter Sunday, alone on a hilltop overlooking the city. Birdsong drowning out the sound of the very occasional car. A city that is sun-drenched and cloudless. Eerily quiet, but far from at peace. The famous white cocktail sticks of the Millennium Stadium now mark a field hospital. Remember thinking of the people who will end their days on that most hallowed of pitches. Remember thinking one day there will be rugby played there. Maybe even Springsteen again. Maybe we’ll dance again, next to strangers, if we’re lucky.
Remember how you managed to get yeast delivered in a little cardboard pot covered with cling film, thinking how much it looks like crack cocaine. Remember thinking it would have a higher street value, before too long. Remember baking your first load of bread, marvelling at the real miracle of Yeaster.
Remember sitting on the patio, looking at constellations through the Night Sky app. The rare comet, and Venus being all bling. Remember remembering how small we are, in the scheme of it all.
Remember getting a food processor delivered. Remember making mayonnaise (fail), brownies (gooey fail) and meringues (chewy sugary win) for the first time. Remember ordering the special juice attachment so you can squeeze fresh oranges and savour every last citrusy drop. Remember a delivery of oranges feeling as exciting as new shoes used to, before All Of This TM.
Remember colours and tastes being suddenly more vivid, as if living under the weight of a viral threat makes everything technicolour. Butterflies flash. Spices linger. You hear new drum fills and harmonies in songs you’ve heard hundreds of times. Gulping in the Government-sanctioned fresh air, fresher now, like cold lemonade.
Remember encountering a swede in its natural form for the first time, and not being able to identify it. Remember having to ask your running club Whatsapp group what it is. Remember wondering why you have never touched a swede before (either in a culinary or biblical sense). So many firsts.
Remember drawing imaginary lines between James’ freckles as he sleeps, making mythical maps. Remember being scared about the world he’s training to be an adult for.
Remember washing the cheese grater on a perpetual loop. Remember the kindness of friends that brought vital supplies when you were in self-isolation. Honey, wine, rocky roads, and homemade bread absolutely felt like vital supplies. Remember every kindness. Hold on to those people.
Remember going to a Twitter album listening party “hosted” by Tim from the Charlatans, and being more glad of the company than of the fact he used to give you special feelings in your jeans circa 1995. Remember how it passes the time, by hurling you back a few decades.
Remember crying in the garden the day James goes to his dad’s after a month of being together 24/7. Remember dancing to Otis Redding in the kitchen. Remember making fish pie twice in a week, more than you have in the last decade.
Remember sleeping soundly. Remember wondering how you sleep this way. But at night, there are no decisions to be made. No meals to be planned. You fall fast.
Remember taking Joni cycling so you can squeeze every last drop from your hour of Government-sanctioned exercise. Remember the little bat-eared idiot grinning as the wind flaps her ears and whiskers. Remember the man who died at home a few streets away, and loved his dog just as much.
Remember the cormorant, perched regally on a branch tangled with plastic waste left by the floods that drowned the city’s biggest park only a few weeks before.
Remember learning definitions for phrases you thought you understood. Suddenly “low skilled worker” changes meaning completely to mean “key worker” and we clap for them now.
Remember cleaning obsessively, until you never want to clean again. Remember throwing open the shutters in the morning to let the sun and birdsong in, and breathing it all in, grateful for another day.
Remember putting the coffee grounds on the roses. You think you heard it was good for them, once. You don’t google it to be sure though. It just feels poetic. Like something Joni Mitchell might have prescribed.