I don’t go in for Zoom or any other type of video conferencing malarkey. Quite apart from having to make a bit of an effort with my appearance there’s the absolute certainty I would be miles away, both literally and figuratively, when faced with the distraction of someone else’s living room in the background. If there’s a bookcase in view, forget conversation, my attention is elsewhere.
Even television presenters work from home now and I find it hard to listen to what they’re saying as their furniture, fixtures and fittings become my main focus.
Actually, I prefer it like this. Something to occupy the mind while they waffle inanely on, just like they always did, but now I have a valid excuse for tuning them out.
Even in real life situations, whatever they used to be, I constantly found myself contorting my head and neck to read, sideways on, any books on a shelf. Talking to me under these conditions is a waste of breath. Oh, and no, of course I can’t concentrate on more than one thing at a time. Multitasking is not in my DNA. I struggle to cope with one task at a time.
I messaged a friend a week ago, just to say hello, and asked ‘what are you up to anyway?’ She hasn’t replied. I can’t believe it requires so much thought. A simple question, surely?
Is overthinking yet another byproduct of our recent isolation? Or am I reading too much into this? Did she just forget to reply? Even worse, is she ignoring me and my fatuous remarks? I wish I hadn’t mentioned this now. I may not sleep tonight for worrying…
The same friend moved house 18 months ago and she’s still got numerous taped up boxes in the ‘spare’ room. Getting sorted out after a move, that’s just asking for an onset of prevarication, isn’t it? Some ‘stuff’ gets unpacked and put away virtually straight away. By which I mean, within the first week. Or so. After that, it’s bye bye box, see you whenever.
I find the best removal system (and we’ve moved house many, many times) is to incorporate the science of random selection. Obviously, one should never write on a box what it contains - where’s the fun in that? When its time comes to be opened, possibly far into the future, there’s a frisson of excitement about the process.
There’s about an equal balance I find between, ‘oh, finally, there you are’ and ‘why did we ever imagine we’d need that?’
Best of all are things you really needed, couldn’t find and so went out and bought a new one. Now, inside the box you finally got around to opening is that most precious of all items, ‘a spare.’
I see Marigold has referred to our ‘French’ period when we grew, nurtured and cherished the many grape vines on our land. We became confirmed oenophiles in the process, but not everything went smoothly all the time. I developed a condition related to tennis elbow, namely secateur wrist through pruning about a million vines.
The vast wine press in the cellar of our isolated farmhouse took all our combined strength to operate - we only learnt later that the previous owner used a mule to provide the muscle power - and Marigold, for all her many virtues, having briefly and unsuccessfully tried every other aspect of the wine making process was finally relegated to sticking labels onto the bottles.
Easy? Not as I recall. Getting a wine label to attach to a bottle and look anywhere near level must be harder than it looks. Perhaps the major chateaux have a ready supply of spirit levels to hand as our finished wine bottles would never be snapped up by the head buyer of Majestic Wine.
I heard someone on the News this morning saying how much they’re missing their grandchildren. They come over to wave and shout hello occasionally and the proud grandparents throw them down a Magnum each as a treat.
‘Sorry we can’t come down to give you a cuddle,’ they shout.
‘Don’t worry,’ the kids reply, ‘we’d rather have the Magnums anyway.’
Marigold has now started saying ‘I’d rather have a Magnum’ to me every time I give her a kiss or a squeeze in passing. It ceased to be funny five hours ago.
In retaliation I have threatened to withhold all future aspects of intimacy, but that strategy seems to have backfired. Oh well, as long as she’s happy.
The modified sheep dip pit I ordered to protect us from people calling at the house hasn’t been entirely successful. Our postman wears shorts, winter and summer, and yet is still insistent on blaming me for the full body rash he claims to have contracted by his very brief immersion.
Yes, I fully accept I made an error in not realising he was relatively short of stature before filling it to the brim with Domestos, but if he carries on complaining for much longer he’ll be risking missing out on the usual 50 pence tip come next Christmas.
Marigold was dead against the plan from the start and continues to complain about my choice of Domestos when Tesco’s own brand bleach is so much cheaper.
‘Have you even glanced at the comparative efficiency ratings in this Which? Report,’ I ask, but Marigold has always shown very little interest in my extensive research material.
I suppose I shall have to just carry on digging the moat as a back up now the Council have taken up such an unreasonably antagonistic stance to my outline planning request for a minefield.
‘High explosive devices not allowed on domestic dwelling units within the Borough’ indeed.
If they had bothered to read all 96 pages of my dossier they should have realised the mines would be concealed underground and therefore not visible at any time.
It’s bureaucracy gone mad in my view.
The news flash along the bottom of the television screen just said, ‘Greater Manchester Police attended 500 house parties last weekend.’
Well, that’s not setting a very good example, is it?
My latest NHS letter, my third since the decision was made, presumably at Cabinet level that my life expectancy if exposed to ‘other people’ or other equally dangerous entities starts off by saying… ‘Persons like you in the clinically extremely vulnerable cohort will continue to be advised to shield themselves for some time yet, and the Government recognises the difficulties this brings for those affected.’
Wow! Last time I was classified as being in the ‘clinically extremely vulnerable group.’ Now it’s the ‘clinically extremely vulnerable cohort.’
Is a cohort better than a group? More selective? Even more special?
Who writes this stuff?
Pubs, bars, nightclubs, snooker halls, Burger King and gyms are all closed. Hordes of people have apparently had their lives ruined by the enforced absence of these recently deprived pleasures.
But, even allowing for this devastation, it appears my own routine will be completely unaffected.
That can’t be right.
It’s now day something or other since we entered the deep hibernation of lockdown. Not every day is a bundle of laughs. I’m finding it a bit upsetting to see Marigold with her nose pressed against the window, tears streaming down her face making whimpering noises.
It’s heart breaking, it really is.
I’ve even considered letting her come back inside, but after she went out and collected that Amazon parcel left on the path we’ll need to wait a few days yet to see if she starts coughing.
Oh, I know it seems harsh but rules are rules.
Just hope those Midget Gems in the Amazon box are okay out there. It’s getting a bit nippy at night.
Marigold has decided to cut my hair. No fastidious micro examination of a stray hair, none of that two mirrors malarkey or inane chatter about inconsequential trivia, it’s sit down, keep still and don’t distract me.
As a result I have a haircut that will last several months without even seeing a brush or a comb, that takes moments to wash in the shower, is economical with shampoo and yet only took three minutes to create.
Salons of Britain, you can learn much from Marigold. Seat customer, switch on clippers, three minutes later shout ‘next.’
I suspect Marigold watched a training video from the United States Marine Corps Induction Centre when honing her technique.
Oddly, my offer to return the favour and cut Marigold’s hair has not yet been accepted.
Some say we need social interactions to maintain good mental health. Aristotle said, ‘man is by nature a social animal.’
I yield to no one in my admiration for Aristotle. More than 2300 years after his death, he remains one of the most influential people who ever lived. He contributed to almost every aspect of human knowledge then in existence, and he was the spark, the founder of many new fields.
According to the philosopher Bryan Magee, ‘it is doubtful whether any human being has ever known as much as he did.’
Even so, and far be it from me to offer an alternative view to old clever clogs, I know several people who are positively relishing lockdown.
There’s a couple living behind our place - there’s a ten foot hedge between us so I’ve never actually seen them and their entrance road is ‘around the back, somewhere’– but they’re obviously elderly and a bit deaf as I used to clearly hear snippets of their conversation on days when we were both engaged in that idyllic activity usually confined to warm, sunny afternoons known as ‘sitting out’.
I only learnt the name of the unseen neighbour yesterday as I limped along my 25 step exercise path.
‘Malcolm, are you coming in? I’ve got the thingie all set up to zoom the family.’
The enquirer was female, seemingly not in the first flush of youth, and with more than a hint of exasperation in her tone.
‘No, ‘I’m stopping here,’ replied the unseen Malcolm. ‘I’ve just got to a good bit.’
‘The book can wait. Your grandchildren will want to see you.’
Malcolm was obviously having none of it.
‘No, they won’t, they’re as fed up as I am of these wretched video things. Quite frankly I don’t miss seeing any of them and if you’re honest, neither do you.’
‘No, I know, it’s been lovely having time to ourselves and no need to pretend we enjoy having the whole tribe turn up on the doorstep, but they think we’re lonely. They think we’re at risk.’
Silence, then a deep sigh from Malcolm.
‘Tell them I’ve croaked,’ he shouted. ‘I’m not coming in.’
Another long pause and then the woman said ‘I’ll say you’re on the lavatory.’
I really want to meet this pair one day. Malcolm and I would get on very well. Imagine having to leave your place in a book just as you get to ‘a good bit.’
It’s just not on, is it, Malcolm?