29 APRIL 2020
Having had a difficult night with Jean, I resolve to try to go back to bed when I have finished all my care duties and chicken and poly tunnel/ cold frame chores. However, I am required in my ‘mother’ role to deal with daughter/work crisis before lunch, and I then decide to return to the polytunnel and weed the tops of canna pots until lunch and then try and sleep afterwards.
The first thing that disturbs me is Aideen on ‘Zoom’ in a harp class at the bottom of the stairs where the Wi-Fi signal is strongest. Aideen has had a very frustrating time since her Guildhall term restarted, trying to find an efficient way of relaying her harp playing online for lessons, classes and performance platforms. These have to be filmed, and it has been a complete nightmare to record her harp sound properly and at a good enough quality so that her teacher can hear the sound accurately and her performance can be assessed. With James’ assistance she has tried numerous systems – James even bought a special microphone and additional software but the sound quality is often poor, compressed, cuts in and out, delays and even speeds up due to relying on the websites and internet being in constant use now everybody is working from home! Poor Aideen has wasted hours of her time when she should be practising and has been literally crying with frustration. Also working online in a performance situation is incredibly tiring and gives her headaches trying to deal with the technology. It is incredibly demoralising to think that four years of intensive study and practice is ending like this, and her final recital might be impossible to record and transmit at the right quality to be properly examined – harps are notoriously hard to record.
She then puts headphones on… I am just beginning to doze off and the elderlie’s buzzer goes off, and I am the only person who can go across to the Annexe (everyone else is outside). The buzzer looks like an innocuous doorbell for dad and Jean to press, but it sets off a horrendous siren in the main house which makes you jump out of your skin. They are only supposed to press it for important things, but usually it is for trivial things like changing a TV channel or pulling a curtain or even to ask, “I just wondered where everyone was”!
I peer, bleary eyed, round their door and ask why they’ve buzzed… they look at me blankly and say, “I don’t really know, just wondered what was happening?”. I try not to get too frustrated and trudge back to the house for one last try at sleeping. Twenty minutes later the buzzer goes again, I’m not impressed, this time it is that they want me to let the cat in! At this point I give up on sleep and go back outside. The rain has cleared up and the weather is quite nice. All the plants look so much better for the rain, and I decide to plant out two, 40 module trays of companion planting around some potato beds. I plant out one tray of phlox, ‘21st century mixed’ and one tray of Verbena ‘Santos Purple’ – these are both supposed to be great for bees. It is good to see that the potatoes are beginning to come up, it must be the rain. Patrick spends some time finishing off the beds in the mushroom house, which is good, because then we can plant the mushroom spawn, which will give us more space in the fridge!