22 May, in the year of our Lord 2020
Up, and after breakfast to find my plants in their pots on theyre sides and my chairs on the lawn too, with a great gale as if the Dutch wreak revenge by wind on my garden. But even so to my Exercise, and I up the lane with a following draught. The streets are peopled more of late and some hand in hand or, when not holding their hats, cavorting, which I think exceeds the Rules. The Physician outside his premises in a bad mood.
‘A few more people out,’ I observed.
‘They should not be, it is too soon.’ Then he did tell me of a constable who hath told him of the excuses made by people they had found abroad to avoid the rule of Law; viz. one that he was hiding his shoes for he was playing Hunt the Slipper; another that he was to Messrs. Quayle & Block to buy fresh samphire; a man from Bromleigh was searching for a new set of bagpipes; a fourth out to lend a book to an elderly aunt who was blind; and strangest of all a person dressed in the costume of a bear with a Scottish accent, eyeglasses and fabric wrapped around the nose and mouth so tight it did amaze him they could breathe, cornered in a yard and claiming it was looking for hunny. I said it was a shame the bear did not bump into the man from Bromleigh, for she might have been able to help him.
‘I have also heard that a man from Milton Keanes went to Brighton to see if the seaside were alive,’ I said, which I had, from a friend who lives there.
‘I have also read,’ continued the Physician, ‘that Addicts have been creeping into the town from abroad!’
‘Coffee!’ he barked. ‘Which is bad for nervousnesse, restlessnesse, complexion and the integument!’ And then he looked from side to side as if none should hear, and vouchsafed ominouslie to me, ‘I have even read of people from afar advantaging themselves of the quiet roads to travel to the dark and secret places in this City — ’ and then some words sotto voce that I understood not at all.
‘Anyway,’ I said, ‘I thought it going well? The Secretarie for the Plague was trumpeting that his targets were met.’
He snorted. ‘That is because I am told to record not each case but ev’ry feather. Every day my boy out with a bagful of them to a list of addresses, and back at the end of the day, the bag empty; but last evening Jervas found dumped in his wheelie bin enough fresh feathers to fill the bag several times over!’
‘But those cannot be counted, surely?’
‘Pfff! Do not believe the tally is all I say. Anyway, I need a breake: it is all too stressful and I need to get away. Somewhere quiet and distant, where I am not known and can forget it for a while.’
I asked if he had ever been to Abertywitswith.
‘I have,’ he said, ‘and I will not go again! The journey was a night dread. I stayed in Oxford at The Halfway Inn, in Stratford at The Halfway House and in Shrewsburie at The Boutique Halfway Restaurante with Roomes. None of them halfway! And when I got there I could not understand the accent.’
‘Brummie,’ he snapped.
I continued my Exercise for the hour, then to my garden to right my plants in their pots where one had smashed. After dinner to my accounts, which I did all afternoon and after read a little of my book.
After supper I still brooding on the phrase whispered by the Physician, so summoned the Messenger to Mr. M. Jones: ‘I know what means “pour faire la cuisine”, but what of “faire le chien?”’ A while later the Messenger back, saying that after Mr. Jones had fell about laughing he said he believed it to be an activitie engaged in by single folk and couples in their carriages, who gathered late at night at a shady rendezvous, and was like coq au vin but you can watch it and food was not the point. I sent the Messenger back with, ‘Might one not take sandwiches?’, and he by return with the replie, ‘They have not been invented. Go to bed.’ He can be blunt sometimes. But so to bed.