As I write

As I write, I’m remembering yesterday: in the garden with a cat, a book, and a ladybird which sat for a minute on my shoe. I took a photo of it and sent it to a few people. Isobel’s mum replied, saying it’s supposed to be lucky.

Immediately, I was not lucky, mightily startled by Nergal – the cat, not the ladybird. I hadn’t named the ladybird at that point. Nergal had jumped down from the shed roof. I did not see her climbing up there. Her very sudden appearance beside me only just failed to give me a heart attack. So, that might have been some luck from the ladybird. Or, maybe I’m just sometimes lucky anyway. Like when I was looking up at a blue porcelain sky yesterday , listening to the faint sound of birds and faraway cars, and thinking: I am alive.

I’ve nearly finished writing a book. I don’t want to say much about that yet. I don’t want to jinx it. But it’s going well. Touch wood. And ladybirds. Well, maybe just look at them instead of touching. They are a bit delicate. And anyway, my un-named ladybird, which I will now name Prunella, had vanished and taken her luck elsewhere. That’s okay. A lot of people need luck these days.

Prunella wasn’t the only creature to make an appearance in the garden yesterday. Magpies were around for a while, making that distinctive, forced coughing sound they do, like they’ve got a cold but they want you to think it’s Coronavirus, so everyone feels sorry for them. I’m not falling for it. Magpies were coughing before the pandemic and they’ll be coughing after it has gone.

Before I went out to the garden, I’d spent a few hours writing the last bit of that book I mentioned, and then I went for a run around a park. Just as I reached the park gates, feeling very joggerish and chuffed that I’d kept to a regular daily schedule of running, I passed a man who was making a noise like the Rocky soundtrack. I nodded and smiled. “Go yersel man” he said, chuckling as I ran past him. I thought – I’m more like Rocky in the later movies, when he’s ancient and if he runs at all it’s probably a hologram. I also used to box, but I didn’t say that to the soundtrack humming guy.

Running around the park, keeping a safe distance from everyone, I passed solitary escapees walking dogs, couples of all ages strolling and holding hands, and a skateboarder rolling up and down graffiti-covered concrete hollows and hills, getting his daily fix of adrenaline. One not very fit looking dad, wearing a baggy grey T-shirt, was guarding an imaginary goal mouth, as his small, determined son ran up to kick a ball towards him. As I ran by, the man glanced up at me, as if to say: “I know I look knackered but I’m trying.” I silently wished him and his son a ladybird each. Then, I thought – maybe two ladybirds for the dad. He looks like he needs more luck than his son.

Harvey Duke

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