Covid Diaries Feb 2021

Clifton, February 20th

Back home after 2 nights at the cottage. Mixed tunes and got wrecked last night. Yesterday went to Luppitt, a really remote little village in The Blackdown Hills to try to track down Mary Wright who famously was running The Luppitt Inn when she was 98 (the last article about it was in 2019). It was a stormy, wet day and the pub sign was swinging and creaking as I pulled into the farmyard which is next to the pub. The pub is really a house with a room for drinking. This is how all pubs were once. I tried coming here before on just the same sort of day probably about a year ago and the whole place was equally quiet then.

After knocking on the pub’s door and the cottage behind’s door I tried a neighbour. He could tell me that Mrs Wright had died before Christmas. 10 minutes later a middle aged woman was walking down the hill with her dog and a wreath.

‘Excuse me, I don’t suppose you’re related to Mrs Wright?’ Once again – like with many of my journalistic efforts recently – I was in luck.

‘I’m her granddaughter.’ He name is Caroline Smith. She’ll attempt to keep the pub going once they’re allowed to reopen.

‘We just need to tart it up a bit first.’

I want to interview her about the story of the pub and surviving Covid.

Pubs seem to be the theme at the moment. Yesterday The Bristol Cable published my article about Dawkins Ales, a Bristol brewery which owns some of the most characterful pubs in Bristol: The Miner’s Arms, The Hillgrove, The Green Man, The Victoria, The Portcullis. They have lost 90% of their revenue and yesterday launched a crowdfunding campaign to try to save the business.

I met Hank at The Green Man in the Summer and he told me about Dawkins Ales owning the pubs. But I took it upon myself to contact them guessing that they might be struggling. I got nowhere when I first tried to contact them but this time the timing was perfect: It was a week ago and they were planning their crowdfunding campaign to be launched a week later. It goes to show that hopefully I can be quite perceptive about finding newsworthy stories. I love it.

Earlier I walked up to the bridge and thought about how I’ve done that walk several times feeling unhappy and realised how this time I will look back on as a happy time like those holidays which we look back on with soft focus nostalgia. This is where I’m at. In a way I don’t want the lockdowns and pandemic craziness to end. I’ve been living in a bubble – literally and figuratively. I love living with Jade. I’ve never lived with anyone that it’s been so easy to live with. And we have a great laugh and Charlie is lovely too.

On my walk I bumped into Colin who I met on Canynge Square last week when I was enquiring about the great big hole that appeared in the middle of the square. Later on I also bumped into Pete – my old tennis coach – and we’re going to go for a walk so that I can be a ‘client’ for him as he’s retraining as a psychotherapist. Again I thought about how much better things are: I feel like I’m part of the community.

Had a second date with Carolina last Sunday and we walked from Failand to Portbury. Halfway there I kissed her. It felt good kissing in the wind (not pissing in the wind!). Then she came back for dinner with Jade and Charlie and stayed for hours. She is a psychologist who counsels family members of murder victims. She is a good listener and a good advisor about my insomnia (she has had the same). Maybe she will become a girlfriend who can help me with this oldest and most complicated of problems. We shall see.

Let this ride keep going. I don’t want to get off. Keep it going. Keep it going. Keep it going.

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