All change please (10.22)

I will try this week not to mention the U word or the R word. Or the W word. There is enough in the news about this already.

In my gloomy outlook last week I forgot to talk about how the easing of restrictions looks. Because we are there now, the other side. The After. A journey of two years through Covid and end it ended… almost without me noticing.

My first day in the office in March was almost like stepping back two years. All the tables and chairs had reappeared in the cafeteria – no more socially distanced lunches trying to hear what your colleague is saying from across a large table. Masks have now been designated “optional”, which means they have almost entirely disappeared from people mobile around the corridors. It was just like it used to be. And yet…and yet…

London transport has also lifted their requirement for masks. Mask wearing – which was never 100% – has dropped to 40/50%. Maybe slightly higher in rush hours (people still don’t trust other people). And rush hours are more rushed than I’m used to – train carriages are fuller in the morning. No clusters of people standing in the entrance vestibule like there used to be. But definitely busier. We have to sit next to each other now. No leaving a space between you and the next passenger like back in The Between (as I’m now going to refer to it. The Before, The Between and now, The After).

In my research for my forthcoming trip to Cambodia, a series of things have combined that got me listening to 60s Cambodian psychedelic rock. What? I hear you say in disbelief. You need to listen to this. This is the musical genre you didn’t know you needed in your life. Even Husband – who is a fan of 60s psychadelica but not necessarily of songs not sung in English – liked it. If you have Spotify, I can recommend playlists Cambodian psychedelic and 60s/70s Psychedelic Cambodian, Turkish, Iranian… You don’t need to understand the words, this is seriously groovy baby. (And yes that is a deliberate Austin Powers reference.)

It’s been a head down working, working and working kind of week as my days before moving to a new team evaporated so rapidly. Three days of commuting in a row (so much like The Before!). Cleaning out piles of paper from my filing cabinets, packing up my office, as well as doing as much work as I can to not leave too many things dangling on my departure. But even with my best intentions, I knew on signing off on Friday night that I would have to spend some hours on the weekend finalising handover notes and reporting.

My reward for finishing the week and being stressed out and spending too many hours hunched over a keyboard and not moving very much was a massage booked for Friday night to ease away all that stress. Except it wasn’t easy. It was painful at times. I had a lot of knots in my body that have all been worked out but it took a lot of effort to do this and – damn – but that can hurt. But I had a pretty good night’s sleep afterwards.

In the vein of my “I don’t have any time to spare so I’ll add something else to my to-do list” mentality, I started another Writers HQ course this week. It was called something like about finding time to prioritise your writing practice. Yep, signing up for that course in one of my busiest weeks was not a smart idea. Is it any surprise that I didn’t finish it in the four days scheduled?

I’ve recently acquired a Middle Eastern cookbook called Snackistan. I saw it on a shelf in our Airbnb in Sheffield and enjoyed reading it so much (“All this food looks so delicious and healthy and so easy to prepare!“) I had to get my own copy. I’ve tried two recipes from it already – Sudanese mashed broad beans (Husband hated this so much he wanted to throw it out; I’ll agree it wasn’t perfect but I still enjoyed it) and Carrot crisps with cumin. I’m looking forward to trying more recipes, like spiced roasted chickpeas, spice roasted split broad beans and – how’s this for fusion food – mushy pea hummus! (And yes, the only reason I made the Sudanese bean thing is because I bought the wrong kind of dried broad beans – I meant to get the split ones for roasting. Ah well, next time.)

I’m looking forward to trying new spices like Sumac and Raas Al Hanout. I’ll report back on my adventures in Snackistan in future posts.

In the meantime, I hope you don’t buy anything in error this week.

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