Just one among millions

First off, I was pretty much retired before this all started. The pension comes in and although it isn’t a lot, at least we can eat.

My wife had sepsis in January and has come out of that with a heart problem. This puts her in a ‘vulnerable’ category, so she is forbidden to leave the house until mid-June. My youngest granddaughter was diagnosed later the same month with Type 1 diabetes and is under a similar quarantine. Both she and her sister are at home because their school is closed, and my daughter is a single mum who normally works at a greeting-card shop which is closed for now. Fortunately, she was on sick pay before this happened and that continues to be paid, along with her benefits. Her former partner, who claims to want to be involved with his kids, is being about as much use as a chocolate teapot. We’re lucky.

As the only member of the family able to go out, I do the shopping for all of us. Oh, joy! We men just love shopping, don’t we?

But you know what? It’s not so bad! I’m actually enjoying the social distancing. Two metres is actually a comfortable distance for me. I no longer have to be intimately aware of the dietary preferences and personal grooming and hygiene choices (or lack thereof) of complete strangers. We Brits are a nation of curry-lovers and while I enjoy a chicken Jalfrezi myself, I don't really want to share last nights’ Tikka Masala. Over- application of Old Spice or Obsession is also a sin committed by far too many. At least I can now breathe in the check-out queue.

The art of the queue, for so long a part of the British way of life, has been rediscovered. Few complaints, no punishing in (even by teenagers and OAPs), just some banter, wry comments and gallows humour. There is space in the shop itself, so you can go round, get what you need, and get out. No more badly-behaved kids underfoot. No more groups of friends or neighbours standing around chattering and blocking the aisles. Even the gormless specimen (invariably male), standing in front of the shelves enumerating every item to his partner over a mobile phone because he doesn't know which brand of baked beans he eats every week, has vanished!

Home? Well, that’s another matter. Poor Anne is going a bit stir-crazy. She’s racing me to take the rubbish out! But the magnolia I bought for her birthday last year is producing a single, magnificent bloom, which she is delighted with. She has her Kindle and Hudl, so I leave her to her own devices (you may groan), for some of the time. For the rest, we watch TV and/or talk. About many things. History, literature, the good times we’ve had as a family, what we plan to do when this is all over (Anne says, “Hug the grandchildren, have some chips with curry sauce and go to Weston-Super-Mare for a day!”).

I’m writing a bit. Three fan-fiction stories completed since this started: Flight of the Vigilant (Star Trek/Blakes’ 7) ; The Last WarLord (Doctor Who); A Big, Beastly Problem (Harry Potter/Godzilla). Occasional comments and responses on Medium. Then there are the games, of course. Real-time strategy on the PC, RPGs and action games on the PS3. Doing a bit of gardening -weather and materials permitting.

I was depressed already, so that’s not getting worse, at least!

So we go from day to day, doing what we can, communicating with the family via WhatsApp, keeping ourselves amused. We join in the Eight O’clock Clap every Thursday evening and get the chance to say hello to the neighbours. I told Anne the other day that I’d never imagined that the whole of the country would be looking forward to the clap. She hit me. Not hard, mind, but at least she knows my sense of humour is still there!

I do wonder what Christmas will bring, though. Either everyone will be so skint that nobody will do anything, or everyone will be seizing the day for a big celebration!

Stay safe. Stay well.

Snapper-up of unconsidered trifles, walker of paths less travelled by. Advocate-in-Ordinary to His Satanic Majesty.

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