“The most we can do is to write — intelligently, creatively, critically, evocatively — about what it is like living in the world at this time.” Oliver Sacks
Author:Dr Alfred Prunesquallor
Maverick doctor with 40 years experience, I reduced my NHS commitment in 2013. I am now enjoying being free lance, working where I am needed overseas. Now I am working in the UK helping with the current coronavirus pandemic.
Leicester has a Cultural Quarter in the city centre. Where there used to be seedy sex shops, dodgy clubs, dilapidated factories and a bus depot, there is now a gallery, performing arts centre, artists workshops and the Phoenix Cinema showing arty movies.* But the jewel in the crown is the amazing Curve Theatre, designed by Rafael Vinoly. Unlike other theatres, “there is no traditional backstage area. Audiences can enjoy the full theatre making process, peek behind the scenes and maybe even spot an actor or two dashing from the stage to their dressing room or enjoying a coffee. The curved façade is made from 1,192 tonnes of steel and 46000m² of glass.” (Curve website).
Sadly, stringent covid-19 restrictions have prevented the cultural quarter from performing over the past nine months. I walked through the empty streets in the rain this morning, on my way to the open fruit and vegetable market, and took some photographs of doors – what else?
Leicester is trying to market itself as a vibrant, “green” city. #EscapeTheEveryday poster shows the gateway to St Mary de Castro church, close to Castle Gardens.
*I found an old photograph I took of a newspaper billboard (the Leicester Mercury) drawing attention to the concerns of sex shop owners over the detrimental effects of new the Curve Theatre in 2008.
With the current lockdown, Tier 4 covid restrictions, there haven’t been many opportunities to take photographs. Here are a few colourful doors from Leicester city centre
And another, less impressive, but leonine, none the less.
Being a “detectorist” is a popular hobby in the UK. This involves using a metal detector to discover metal objects – Roman coins to tin cans. In Leicester, there is a similar fad using a magnet to “fish” for metal objects in the canal or River Soar. Occasionally, the magnet fishers will find armaments from World War 2, such as grenades. There used to be a stash of munitions north of the city, but no one knows how these fell/were dumped into the river. Usually, the magnet fishers just pull out scrap metal.
The River Soar flows through the City of Leicester. The surrounding area to the north is quite flat and forms a flood plain, the water meadows. The path running alongside the canal was close to being flooded by the excess water from recent rains. There were few doors to be photographed.
There were several canal boats moored alongside the path.
With lock down and tier 3 restrictions imposed because of the coronavirus, I have had little opportunity to photograph doors. But on a shopping trip to the open market in the city I managed to snap a few pictures with my mobile phone.
The days are getting shorter and colder. But every once in a while, dull, grey clouds are banished by the cool winter sunshine bringing bright blue skies. There had been a frost overnight which was melting by the time I started my walk to the local park.
On my way to the park, I passed some doors – the raison d’etre of this site.
This door might be black and white, but there is plenty of colour in the park.
With the restrictions of Covid, I have dredged my memory banks to find some interesting doors. These pictures I took almost ten years ago in the Windy City. For all the fans of the television show “ER”. When I was teaching medical students, I would ask them to watch the show for the medical content and I would use it as a teaching aid.
More doors all of which seem to be leaning to the right:
Two years ago, I decided to buy a new camera. My trusty Canon 6D has served me well until I tripped over a tramline in Amsterdam. I had the camera around my neck and it got the ground, damaging a dial on the top.
I fixed it myself, but it fell off again, and I lost it. So I bought a replacement and fixed it on with Araldite glue. Unfortunately, this also fixed the dial in one position. I can use the camera, but I decided to buy another.
The Canon is full frame, and heavy, especially when lugging around lenses. So two years ago, on Black Friday I bought a micro 4/3 camera, a Panasonic Lumix G9. This has served me well in my travels (Myanmar, Thailand, Mallorca, Budapest, Venice).
It is supposed to be “tropicalised” to cope with dust, humidity, heat, snakes, etc. However, a few months ago, the blistering heat of Zambia melted the glue of the plastic grip covering the hatch where there SD cards are housed.
I didn’t want to repeat my adhesive disaster, so I asked on line for advice. Panasonic were hunkered down behind Covid-19 proof firewalls, but I eventually got in touch with an authorized repair shop.
To glue the plastic skin back on was going to cost me over $100! I’m not going ahead with it. I can use it as it is, without risk of anything falling off or getting damaged. Grrr.
It was so hot that we opened both front windows for the car journey back to Kapani, regardless of the effect the wind would have on our hairdos. When we arrived, we looked at each other and smiled. At times we both thought that the wedding would never take place. But the marriage certificate was safe in a brown envelope on the back seat.
We showered and changed into comfortable clothing suitable for the bush. Andy at Mfuwe Lodge had very generously offered to let us stay there for the first night of our marriage. We had tea, then changed back into our wedding suits for a photoshoot. Ian S took the pictures, by the lagoon and around the lodge, when the light improved. We changed back into bush gear and drove down to the Luangwa River bank for “golden hour” photographs, followed by dinner at the lodge.
The next morning, Anne went on an early morning safari drive, followed by breakfast in the bush. Afterwards, she had a relaxing massage and pedicure at the Bush Spa, overlooking the lagoon. Meanwhile, I went off to work at health centre and doing a community children’s clinic. I collected Anne in the early afternoon and we drove back to the doctor’s house. Later that afternoon, we held a reception in the bush, at Kalawani Salt Pan, for drinks at sundown, observing social distancing, of course.
The following morning, we met Fil at the Park gate at 6am and did some serious birding for three and a half hours in her open Land Rover. We were very lucky to see a pair of crowned eagles at Elephant Loop. We had Fil’s muffins for breakfast at Norman Carr’s memorial in the ebony grove by the river. He set up the first national parks in Zambia (Kafue and South Luangwa in 1960) and built a camp on the east bank of the Luangwa River for tourists at Kapani. This is where I have lived for the past three trips volunteering here. Glenn, the present manager of Time and Tide, offered us a night at Chinzombo, another luxury resort just a few kilometres down the river from Kapani.
Many thanks to Andy and Glenn for their generosity, we really appreciated it.
The term “glamping” – glamorous camping – is a perfect description of Chinzombo. There are just half a dozen chalets, each with their own swimming pool, overlooking the river. One massive tent contains a double bed, armchairs, writing desk and voluminous mosquito netting, the other contains a stand-alone bath, shower, toilet, handbasins and storage area for clothing, with leather straps and pouches in the style of a safari tent a century ago. The walls of the dining area and bar are decorated with fascinating photographs of Norman Carr’s life at Kapani.
After crossing the river in a boat, we had an evening game drive with Arron guiding. He showed us three leopards and a pride of lions. We could have followed the lions as they set off to hunt, but we felt it was better to leave them alone to kill their supper, as ours was waiting back at Chinzombo. We ate on our private deck, beside the pool, with hippos grunting and hyenas wailing in the bush around us. It was a magical, once-in-a-lifetime experience.
The following day, I took Anne to visit the Chipembele Wildlife Education Trust, half an hour’s drive away. En route, we stopped off to see a grey crowned crane colony surrounded by mopani forest. Anna and Steve welcomed us but we almost didn’t get to see the education centre as a herd of elephants were already visiting. We looked round the impressive centre when the elephants moved off before taking gin and tonics to the river bank for sundowners, accompanied by baby vervet monkey and two small baboons. Anna and Steve rescue animals and return them to the wild.
My replacement, Dr Zoe, arrived at the end of the week, ending our honeymoon. Four days later, we drove to Lusaka for the flight back to England (and fourteen days of quarantine).