3 July, in the year of our Lord 2020
Up, the weather as grey and wet this past week as in November, the very worsed for a summer I did ever see in my entire life. I know not what the great Stream in the sky is doing only overflowing its banks and emptying on all below it. After breakfast disquieted also for the news of further Easements, which I think ill of, for people at large in greater numbers than heretofore, which I think is before its proper time, and the plague about again in Licester yet taverns may open from tomorrow. Anon and a further cause for unease, for I realised I have heared naught from the Physician of my Covey tests and know not if I have had it or am emmune with it; so did hie there when the rain eased a little, where within a familiar face.
‘’ello, Mr. Puppies! Bloody weather, eh? Khuh!’
‘Oh! I remember you. Thomas Urchin?’
‘George Erchin at your service, Mr. Pipes — Urchin with a E. I got the job! The job what was goin’ ’ere, and it was your reference what dunnit,’ said he.
‘Well, I am glad to have been of some service,’ (for I was) ‘and a surname to go with it, I see.’
‘Well, if a Mr. Cooper is a cooper and a Mr. Turner is a man who turns till he is dizzy — ’
‘ — and if Matt. Handcock is a w — ’
‘ — I can be a Master Erchin.’
‘I will admit some Logick to your case. But it is to see the Physician I have come. Is he around?’
‘He is abroad to an urgent case of mortification. May I be of assistance?’
‘In that case, I have come for the results of my tests, for it is six weekes or more since the feathering.’
Master Erchin sucked in his breath through his teeth and shook his head. ‘They never got done, sir.’
‘“They never got done?”’
‘They never even got went, sir.’
‘“They never even got went?”’
‘’Tis a terrible tale, sir, but all them feathers ended up chucked out. Every single one of ’em.’
‘But the Secretarie for the Plague is putting it abroad that he has met his target! That the testing of thousands is a daily occurrence throughout the land!’
‘Ah, well, they way they do it is that they come here and weigh how many feathers we have left and tot up from what weight we started with how many we have used which leads them to deduce how many people we have tested though it may be that for some of those tests someone has sneezed and the feathers in question have been blown about all over the place such as into a crevice where no one goes though I grant that you could argue that those feathers have been in such a place already or perhaps they have not gone far enough into the orryfice or there has been a clericle error and they have been mislabelled or the door has blown open and they have been sucked into the very street by a passing draft and hence thereupon and theretoforward into a gutter — ’
‘ — or dumped in Jervas’s black wheelie bin. Do you ever come up for air?’
‘ — or dumped in Jervas’s black wheelie bin,’ he finished.
‘That is unprincipled and dishonest!’ said I. ‘I feel more dispirited now than when I came in, which is the obverse of my expectation.’
‘We cannot be having that, Mr. Peppeyes. If I may make so bold I think that I have something that may help your affectation and disdispirit you, which is hot of the presses.’ With that he picked from the counter a slim volume from a pile of similar volumes and handed me An Introduction to the Practice of Mindfullnesse its Execution in Specific Circumstances Related to the Plague, with Reference to its Application & Theorie: a Very Proper Guide for the Initiate that they may Gain Insights Heretofore Obscure & Benefit Manifestlie Therefrom.
‘Snappy title, but if it helps. How much?’
‘Sixpence normally. But since we’ve had payment for all the tests — ’
‘ — that you haven’t done — ’
‘ — that we haven’t done, I will give you it for free.’
‘That is uncommonly generous of you. What is the Catche?’
‘Do you have a piece of chalk at home in your presmises, for you will need it?’
‘Funnily enough, I am fresh out of it.’
‘In that case, I will provide you with one of those as well, though regrettabubblie I must make a charge. Sixpence.’
Feeling strangely wrong-footed again I left entending straight home before came the rain once more, but my attention taken by a sign newly placarded outside the premises of my Barber and Provider of Periwigs to the Gentry, which did proclaim in large writing Open from Saturday the Fourthe Day of July! Newly in! ~ Quiltes, Down Pillowes and Feather Duvets, Bespoke Made for the Provision of Warmthe and Comforte in Ev’ry Season. Thus distracted, I did then collyde on the street into a large transparent globe, with arms and hands be-gloved stuck out at two and ten a-clock and waddling legs at five and seven, the head at twelve a-clock behatted and with fabric wrapped around its nose and mouth so tight it did amaze me it could breathe.
‘Why do ye nae watch where you’re — ? Och! ’Tis you.’
‘Do you not think this is carrying PPE a bit far? The last time I heard of you, you were dressed as a Bear.’
‘The First Lord says we are allowed to be in a Special Bubble.’
At which point the very Heavens open’d, the road awash as if in a second Floode of the bible itselfe and its story of the Ark, I dashing home with my purchase under my coat and my last sight of the Special Bubble was of it floating down the lane in the direction of Westminster Stairs and the river.
After dinner I to weight myselfe, which I have not done these Lock Up months and did discover that I am gained of 4 lb. only, which is to my great content. After, I did peruse some paintings of flowers and gardens in a Folio by an artist of my acquaintence in whom I find good technique and they are pleasurable to the eye, and did decide to commission for him to paint a painting of my garden and its flowers in it, it to go on the stairs where there is a place for it on the wall and if it is to my pleasure it will remind me that sometimes the sun shines after all. After supper I did essay some Sonates on my clavichord that I have bought wrote by young Mr. H. Purcell but they of a bizarre and outrageouse modern nature and I found no good matter in any. And so to bed.