Monday, March 30

One of my two big shopping days each week. I go to Carrefour City under the Millefiori building, because it’s the closest. The fruit and veg are not up to much, there’s little choice, and it’s expensive. However, they do sell wine. Standing in line to pay, keeping my distance, a woman behind me says: “Monsieur… and then goes on to tell me I’m standing in the wrong place. “Don’t I see the lines on the floor?” she asks. I shuffle forward the correct 20 centimetres, and tell her “Quel difference, Madame.” There’s always one person who needs to tell me what to do, and it’s always a woman. Stagger back across the border into France.

Tuesday, March 31

I am trying to make time go faster, which at my age is virtually suicidal. So things I would normally do every day I now try to do just twice a week. Like big shopping, for example. Also taking a bath. Washing. Some daily needs defy this methodology, but I’m sure it’s helpful.

Wednesday, April 1

Watching coronavirus events unfold in Britain is like watching a car crash in slow motion. More of a train crash sub-continent style, in this case. Social distancing has been normalised, which is undoubtedly a good thing, and if the Brits stick at it they’ll have this coronavirus nuisance whacked in no time. Possibly by September. However, there are the usual obstacles. The country’s political leadership is one, and the constabulary is another.

Lord Sumption, an interesting-looking character with lots of white hair, and a former supreme court judge, has pointed out the pitfalls of heavy-handed policing. He calls the fuss over coronavirus “collective hysteria” and wonders aloud if the cure may not be worse than the disease. Quite a brave thing for him to say, since he’s 71 and in the expendable age bracket. But as he is also a medieval historian, perhaps he has a point. Meanwhile, Mr Plod is sending people home even when they are the only individuals to be seen for miles.

Thursday, April 2

Another big shopping day. I take the number 4 and go to Marche U on blvd d’Italie. This is a really splendid food shop, makes Waitrose look cheap and tacky. The choice is astonishing and the quality incomparable. For anyone yearning for the UK there’s a large section of British food, HP sauce, hobnobs, and that sort of thing. The fruit and vegetables are top class, and highly recommended.

Friday, April 3

I am very disappointed with Helen. I’ve been looking at her every day and I’ve made sure she’s looked after. Why do her leaves wilt and her blooms wither within a week of me bringing her home? What ingratitude. I was so much looking forward to an exciting few weeks, blossoming here, blooming there. Perhaps not exciting as such, but interesting. Not to be for this hydrangea.

Saturday, April 4

Helen looks worse and worse. A stay-in day. I should wash the dishes and sweep the floor, but there’s no rush. It’s always important to have a few tasks to look forward to and plenty of time in which to do them.

Sunday, April 5

At last. My wife will call me and tell me my horoscope, always something to look forward to. Even when I was back in England this was the high point of the week, which says something. In the meantime I notice that infection rates and daily death rates are falling at last in Italy and Spain. Keeping away from other people is working, obviously, and there’s hope that lockdowns will end sooner rather than later. Tomorrow is a big day. Shopping.

This time I’ll take time out on the way home and sit on a bench at the bus stop at Place Moulins and watch the world go by. Or not.

to be continued for longer than we would like

PHOTO: A healthy hydrangea. Not Helen

Jeff Daniel’s contributions are published in the interests of editorial diversity, and any views expressed are not necessarily those of the publishers.