It was in late winter as the vernal equinox approached and life as we knew it ceased to exist that the tape began to unfurl and snake out on the city streets before me. Yellow, white and red, usually shiny, always plastic, and hitherto mostly used at crime scenes and to control crowds at big events. At first, the taped lines were judicious and practical; marking out 2m for customers waiting in line outside the supermarket, illustrating one way systems in the shops that remained open, and encouraging customers to keep their distance from the tills to protect checkout staff from coughs and sneezes.
For the first time in over a year, I didn’t finish any physical books this month. It wasn’t because I didn’t have anything to read – I am currently reading and really enjoying ‘Stork Mountain’ by Miroslav Penkov – but just because I ended up reading a lot of essays and periodicals online instead, as well as far too much news and opinion on my phone. I’m trying not to be upset with myself for this, as I’m still reading, it’s just my reading list is mostly digital at the moment. Here is a small selection of what I’ve been reading. I also share links each week in my newsletter, so if you’re looking for something new to read you can subscribe to Friday Notes here.
Yesterday afternoon I found myself in a nondescript motorway service station on the M1 somewhere between Nottingham and Chesterfield, waiting for Ed to buy a cup of coffee before we continued north for a much longed for day out in the Peak District to celebrate our tenth wedding anniversary. Physical distancing rules meant that I couldn’t join him in the queue – it was restricted to one adult per household – so I stood by the exit instead, watching people come and go.
I love dramatic, moody, Vermeer light, and I love summer thunderstorms too. Yesterday was very hot and humid, and so I was glad to hear a storm roll in. I asked Minou to pose for me, as always, and she patiently indulged me. She’s a very good portrait sitter.