On the walk back from a rare outing to the supermarket I decided to go wild and take a different route home. This was one of the best decisions I had made in days. No, this was not the setting for a social distancing based meet cute, but in fact it was the simple joy of being told I was a "queen" by the scribbles of chalk left on the pavement, a joyous hangover from the long easter weekend. The excitement did not stop there, near the end of the mystical place called two roads over, there was a piece of A4 taped to a post offering some starter dough to anyone looking to bake sourdough. Yes, it is true, I may have stumbled across the most middle-class sign in all of south London, but nonetheless tears filled my eyes. I don't think the tears were a result of my profound hankering for the doughy loaf of dreams, but the act itself, embodying the general sense that we're all in this together- in a non Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens kind of way.
With a glisten in my eye, I arrived at my flat telling tales of how humanity and sourdough prevail in these trying times. I looked for ways to continue my new found optimism on Netflix and after considering revisiting Grace and Frankie for the 47th time, I searched for further inspiration on the bookshelf. A light blue cover with people peacefully skimming the surface of a swimming pool took my fancy, and the weekend disappeared thereafter.
Between sipping Aperol Spritzes and going on laboured jogs, I polished off The Lido at a speed even Michael Phelps would have raised an eyebrow at. Not only was I unable to put this book down I truly considered putting my cozzie on to do so. Author, Libby Page paints the familiar sites of Brixton vividly, in addition to her descriptions of loneliness, commitment, friendship and ballsy women in an honest and astoundingly accurate way. The protagonist, Rosemary, 87 years old and a true Londoner introduces newbie Kate to the joys of the local lido after a chance meet. Their unlikely friendship evolves over time, facing realities that come to us all and challenges that can only be overcome with the support of the friends around them.
You may find yourself googling your nearest lido after you've read this book, you might even consider what else is on offer in your community, so even after the weekly clap for essential workers has ceased, we might still spot signs offering starter dough, or communities banding together to save local lidos.