Back in the distant haze of early March, today was the date given as the end of the emergency shutdown, but of course we’re nowhere near the end. At present, current measures – leaving the house only for necessity (food shopping, taking out rubbish, medical reasons, assistance to elderly relatives, unavoidable work, short walks in the immediate vicinity; all to be justified with a signed declaration to be presented to the police if they request it, false testimony is a penal offence) – are extended at least until after Easter and probably into May. Pazienza. Sitting tight is the order of the day. Health care workers (and grocery store workers, and delivery drivers) have more than enough on their plate: keep them as safe as possible by staying out of the way where you can.

Despite the oddness of it all (and it is really all very odd, isn’t it?), today felt properly like spring. I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating: I’m only too aware that we’re enormously fortunate to have no trouble finding things to occupy ourselves reasonably usefully and/or enjoyably, and not to feel the threat of the wolf at the door. Many people are living a very different reality at the moment. So it was with gratitude, and the sun shining, that I finally finished sorting out the terrace. Repotting, weeding, cleaning, getting rid of assorted junk. M found some decent fish this morning, so I spent over an hour scrubbing relentlessly at the grill of the barbecue with steel wool until I wore my thumb out. 

I really thought I’d do a lot more reading in this period, but concentration seems to be thin on the ground and I seem to gravitate instead towards the constant but ultimately, in large quantities, unsatisfying stimulation offered by my phone. I’ve started leaving it in another room, which works up to a point. The prospect of barbecuing fish spurred me to complete the terrace spring clean. Doing something physical and practical is somehow more easily absorbing, and there’s a satisfying result at the end of it all. 

And so, with the most ordered terrace in Pigneto, I barbecued a steak of ombrina, a large Mediterranean fish for which I’ve found no English name that makes any sense. Plus a couple of large prawns, and a couple of deboned squid. I’m always a little fearful of barbecuing fish (it’s easy to overcook and ruin) but all of it was perfect. We ate it, and a plate of local agretti – boiled for a moment and dressed with lemon and oil – on the side and we drank some fizzy wine because after all Friday is still Friday. Buon venerdì, amici.