Three months ago if you’d have told me that I was going to be confined to my house along with Man of the House and the Childerbeasts for at least three months I would have asked what on Earth I had done to upset you so much that would make you want to be so cruel to me. I would have panicked. I definitely would have sworn. And there would have been tears. If you had then told me that home-schooling would also be on the cards, things could have got a whole lot more unpleasant there and then. I usually have a military schedule for the Summer Holidays so as to minimise the screeches of “I’m bored” and “what are we doing today?” But this takes planning. Usually from about May. The year before. And that’s only six weeks. I say “only six weeks” now like it’s nothing, because the Summer Holiday no longer holds any fear for me. To have three months dropped on my lap with notice may have caused me to consider President Fart’s untried, untested and frankly unhinged cure for coronavirus. Parents weeping in the street and clinging to fence posts wailing “don’t make me go back in there” was never going to be a good look.
Once the order for lockdown had been issued we were all inside. Except for one nasty section of the population who decided that the best place for them was a supermarket. With fourteen trollies. I suspect that they are one and the same people who fight over electrical goods on Black Friday because apparently they need a television that much on that day. I also suspect that they’re the very same people who were flocking to the beach in the warm weather and then complaining that other people had done the same thing because they wanted to social distance. Oh I see, Deidre from Leicester. So you wanted a private beach? And you are irked that Dave from Birmingham and thousands of other people have had the same idea. Perhaps, and this is only a suggestion, the best way to isolate in a pandemic would be, to, er, isolate.
Diminutive Friend witnessed a store manager advising a lady (I use the word loosely) that she wasn’t permitted a trolley full of toilet roll in accordance with the signs all over the store and she started giving him verbal. Perhaps she was expecting an unfortunate effect from all of the Vesta curries (showing my age now) that she had in her second trolley. Surely if you read the Daily Mail then one would expect a ready and never ending supply of something to wipe your bottom on? Another candidate for Citizen of 2020 was witnessed by the mother of Diminutive Friend, not the springiest of chickens herself. Along with a number of other people she found herself for the first time in her life, quite literally queuing for their health in order to go into her local supermarket. A man of a similar age to her steamed past the queue snaking round the car park in his mobility scooter and headed at some speed for the doors. Unfortunately for him, Mother of Diminutive Friend is not a woman to be trifled with. And after an eight hour shift of policing similar behaviour, neither was the member of staff helping at the head of the queue. This man was asked what the urgency was – apparently he wasn’t happy to be asked to queue. That was it. He didn’t want to queue. He was told he would have to queue on this occasion. Rather than take his turn, he left, almost as quickly as he arrived. I’m surprised it wasn’t to cheers of celebration having had the altercation described to me.
On the positives, my village has a network of volunteers to support those who can’t get out and about. Lots of villagers have been baking and the lady who delivers to the doctors’ surgeries and care homes says it is by far and away the easiest way to instantly become the most popular person in the building. Worth noting for future reference. I believe that I have had coronavirus and as I adopted a horizontal position on the sofa, I was fielding offers of help from friends, and also people who don’t know me that well, because they knew that I was ill and they genuinely cared for my health. I expect that the picture is the same all over the country. Even, I gather, in Islington.
Maybe this has made us all genuinely value people who do essential, but often not highly paid, work. Our NHS. Rainbows in windows all over the country to support our keyworkers. I haven’t been out clapping. I decided quite early on that I could do more good by casting my vote for a party that won’t systematically destroy them. But if you’ve applauded them, I applaud you. Maybe we now value our teachers more. I am fairly confident that none of my children’s teachers have been sat at their desk with their head on it saying to the class “We’ve been here an hour. Just. Write. It. Down”. I bet they haven’t done Times Tables with a large glass of wine either. The DFE guidance for primary schools has changed forty-one times since the government announced without consultation with anyone who had been in a school, let alone run one, that they would be opening to more children. Moveable goalposts? I’m sure schools would just like some goalposts. People working in shops and warehouses. Care workers who have holed themselves up in homes with some very confused and frightened people to try and protect them. Refuse collectors – we would be quite literally in the shit without them.
Maybe working from home can be more of a thing. We’ve shown that a great number of us can, which has got to be safer for those of us who can’t. And the planet will surely thank us. Man of the House has had one call during lockdown when his advice had to compete with the cat purring down the line. Another client enjoyed some words of wisdom along with commentary on my progress around the garden after an errant chicken. And if you haven’t seen Andrew Cotter’s Zoom meeting with Olive and Mabel, you’re missing a treat. It’s lovely to see snippets of other people’s lives.
I am not for one minute suggesting that a continuing pandemic in a country with the world’s highest death toll is a success – apparent only by being not apparent at all. Only an idiot would make such a suggestion. And only an even bigger idiot would believe it. My English teacher told me that she thought that great things could come out of great suffering. I have always tried to see that or what is the point or hope for any of us? In lockdown, a lot of us have had the unique opportunity to stop, look and listen. To view the world and each other from an entirely new perspective. And in doing so, I hope that we, the humans who have held the hands and will always hold the hearts of those who have been lost, are finally able to see our own humanity.