Marigold Says...

Random thoughts on travelling and life in general.

Some of the people who ring Marigold

Lockdown Lunacy Continues

M Says…

G was saying he had been reading that we all wash and shower too often and once a week was plenty, as people are suffering from itchy skin etc. So guessing where this was going, I said “well shall we get a tin bath which we can keep outside, boil a kettle of water and share a splash each”. He said “yes, Sunday nights like when I were a lad,” in a very common northern accent.

I pointed out to him he could do what he wanted but we don’t have a caravan in the drive he can sleep in. Anyway it could be construed as a second home.

We need an old shed, as we shall be social distancing for 6 days of the week and he can sleep on a camp bed with a chemical toilet. He said it sounds a lovely idea, but will I be joining him. I said “only on Sundays”.

Had a delivery from the veg man, who had been boasting he had got flour. Ordered a packet as he phoned to ask if I wanted any. It said on the invoice when delivered “no flour left so have sent you some crackers.”

I phoned him and asked about promised flour. He said he had only got 20 bags and the first two orders were for 10 each, you have to be quick. I thought no that’s just greedy. No wonder he runs out.

He said “bananas are hard to get as they have got a fungus”. We will not be ordering any, put me right off.

We have had an infestation of woodlouse spiders, well to tell you the truth 2 of them on separate nights. Surely anything over 1 is an infestation. I got out my I Spy books but no good, so had to rely on internet.

G said “what are they”? I said they are the only venomous spider in U.K. He quickly dropped it, and put a mug over its body. He then realised I was having him on.

Am scared of them and sit with my feet off the floor, whilst wearing thick socks. It says they are coming in to breed. They were both lethargic so imagine the act had taken place. Yuk. They are now in next doors garden after flinging them 6ft over the fence.

As a kid I used to keep all insects in various jars usually till they died of hunger. Loved ladybirds, but all I fed them on was grass and the occasional corner of a biscuit. My longest living insect was a wasp. Loved him, but he got crosser by the day. Was difficult to go to sleep with all that buzzing. He lasted a week and I let him go. He was still angry. I was able to observe him with my plastic magnifier. Bet he was thinking “If I get out of here”. I think he quite liked me as he didn’t do a U turn and get me. I fed him on dandelions and honey sandwiches.

Was reading that people were queuing for 5 hrs to get into Ikea. It sounds like something in a horror film. Wonder if they all made for the beds to have a kip.

Why oh why? We have been in the past to see what all the hype was. G has got an illness called Queuing-never and it can strike at any time. He gets a cross look on his face if there is more than 2 people in front.

I on the other hand love it. Being a born Chatterbox comes in handy and have found the common denominator is moaning about the queue which we have chosen to join.

Getting back to Ikea we went ages ago to look at The Billy Bookcase. G’s first impressions were not favourable and we were both getting fed up after half an hour. It seemed we couldn’t get out unless we went through the rest of the stuff, round and round departments which we didn’t want to do.

We were trapped.

The glazed expression came over Gs face. He found an assistant “my wife feels ill, can we get out quickly”. This should work he thought, hoping we weren’t taken to First Aid.

“Follow me,” she said and off we went through secret doors and were back to the car in minutes by which time I felt much better and G’s contorted expression was gone.

Can imagine the queues now are for cupboards and Billy Bookcases to house toilet rolls and flour which will probably have weevils crawling in it by now.

Hope the toilets were open in Ikea otherwise the fake display bathrooms will be smelly and they won’t be selling many.

Wonder if people will be wearing masks forever and we never get to see people’s mouths again. The fashion for plump lips will be no more and maybe people will want plump foreheads or ears and a whole new look will be announced. Elastic sales have gone through the roof and will become the new must have at all times.

G is desperate for a dentist. Do they exist anymore in this far removed from Utopian world. If they do who are they practising on? He has had toothache off and on for a bit. I got very worried when I saw string round the door handle and then realised it was the shed key, or maybe he had just fetched some rusty pliers.

They are opening in a week. Presumably we will have to queue in the street in the rain, or if you are not quick enough in the snow in winter. He said he would like it done by Xmas as we do enjoy Thornton’s toffee with a hammer.

The dentists already wore masks, will they now wear two, and two sets of goggles. Will they be able to see? It is all very worrying. We could never understand anything our dentist said before. What if he is double masked and says are you ok and you are not and can’t hear you screaming because he is wearing ear protectors, in case you spit in his ear.

What if the toilet is locked.

What if there are not enough Perspex screens to go round the dental chair. Is he going to poke the drill through a hole. What if he puts the drill up your nose and does not realise.

We are now looking at on line dental remedies. G is no longer moaning about it, just the odd squeak when he eats nuts.

A friend of mine has a very large old door, not a euphemism. There was somebody outside ringing the bell. What to do. She can always think on her feet, well that’s what she says, and donned her paisley mask, well she does live in the Cotswolds, and opened the letterbox, shouting at the top of her voice “step back and say what you want.”

It was her husband locked out. Apparently, he called her something not very nice so she still didn’t let him in.

Am very worried about everybody being allowed to pee in the open. Mr Macron we think has made this suggestion. Can you imagine what Thomas Crapper would think after years of civilisation.

Are they going to start selling huge poo bags, sold like bin bags in different colours and sizes. You would have to say a small adult pack and an extra large for my friend. Can you imagine them hanging from trees or bins marked “Drop your faeces in here”. People could get very muddled. Signs saying “No dumping here” will take on a new meaning. We will all be very confused. I can’t bear to think about it.

And another thing what is R rate. Don’t understand it all but find it worrying when mentioned. It is like getting exam results. G has tried to explain it and all I could think about was we hadn’t got any tea bags.

Usually in important matters G asks me to repeat it all.

Luckily phone went. Was never any good at maths. And another thing. There has been an ice cream van going up and down playing jingles. People have been buying cornets, no doubt touched by a man with no toilet, handling money. They are all wearing masks. How will they eat them?

G in a weak moment last week suggested we buy a chess set. I said “don’t be ridiculous”.

It hasn’t been mentioned again.

Had Scottish bloody Power on regarding a long running saga about tariffs. Like talking to the Krankies.

Don’t want to brag, but we have a letter from our MP on House of Commons paper, also have heard from Ombudsman. Everything was going swimmingly with Scottish Power on phone then I couldn’t say ombudsman. Had to have 3 goes. G was smirking. Anyway put my best voice on and said our treatment at your hands has left us feeling ill. At the time I was eating a bacon butty. Was feeling better by the minute.

As big as a Jack Russell. Well, nearly!

Assuming you got to the end of the Marigold words of wisdom, here's G's offering.

G Says…

'Don’t stand, don’t stand so, don’t stand so close to me’ The Police

When Sting wrote that song, way back in 1980, he surely didn’t intend it as an advance warning of life as we know it today. Actually, as revealed in an interview he gave in 1981, as a former teacher his reasons were very different. Here’s part of that interview:

‘I wanted to write a song about sexuality in the classroom. I’d done teaching practice at secondary schools and been through the business of having 15-year-old girls fancying me – and me really fancying them! How I kept my hands off them I don’t know… Then there was my love for Lolita which I think is a brilliant novel. But I was looking for the key for eighteen months and suddenly there it was. That opened the gates and out it came: the teacher, the open page, the virgin, the rape in the car, getting the sack, Nabakov, all that.’

Hmm! Different times, different viewpoints, different impressions of ‘acceptability’ eh?

How about Noli me Tangere then as an applicable message for the pandemic?

A Latin motto that translates as Touch me not - is the title of a novel written by José Rizal, one of the national heroes of the Philippines, during the somewhat unwelcome colonisation of the country by Spain to describe perceived inequities between Spanish Catholic priests and the ruling government.

The expression didn’t originate with José Rizal as I discovered recently when re-reading one of my fall back authors, Pliny the Elder who referenced herds of deer belonging solely to Caesar for hunting purposes which bore a tag on their collars stating, ‘Noli me tangere, for Caesar's I am.’

A derivation of the original phrase, in this case ‘Don’t tread on me,’ is the motto of the US Army's oldest infantry regiment, the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), located at Fort Myer, Virginia and also Number 103 (Bomber) Squadron of the Royal Air Force.

Touch me not should be inscribed on all our collars just now. Not needed on mine as I have no intention of going anywhere until the All Clear is sounded.

The dire warnings I get from the NHS continue to arrive regularly and a very pleasant young woman has taken to ringing me up every week to ‘see if I am managing.’ She always sounds a little startled when I answer the phone as if she expected an unanswered ringing tone to forlornly continue until she moved on to the next poor unfortunate on her list.

I always reassure her of my continued if tenuous grasp on life, but in view of her continued air of astonishment that her call has been answered I do rather worry what aspects of my medical records she’s regarding in such a pessimistic manner.

It may be totally unrelated, but I’ve recently been targeted by adverts for affordable funerals. By ‘affordable’, do they mean ‘cheap?’ if so, why not say so?

Even more importantly, why are they focusing on me? What do these funeral firms know that I don’t? Life is one worry after another lately.

I’m still ticking along nicely, thanks for asking.

I still do my daily walks, albeit they’re not what most people would call ‘walking’ restricted as I am to a mere 25 paces along my entrance path. A house on one side, a high hedge on the other I walk, turn, walk again up and down this slim corridor of what we mockingly call ‘outside.’

Recent warm weather means I can wear shorts again, the effect marred somewhat by an ancient, utterly repulsive but effective knee bandage holding together yet another defective body part.

Marigold suggests, often, it’s just as well my walks are hidden from public view.

When we left England for distant shores many years ago – not all that distant actually, the Loire Valley being not exactly Outer Mongolia – we had our first taste of solitude. We knew nobody at all in France, didn’t speak the language, there was no telephone and of course this pre dated mobile phones and the Internet by many years.

It didn’t bother us much. We coped. We had enough to fill our days after taking on the renovation of a much neglected and vast French farmhouse without funds to pay tradesmen and only rudimentary building skills.

In the first six months or so we were too exhausted at the end of the day to even think about a world outside our gates. Our nearest neighbour, about a mile away, was everything we’d imagined a French peasant farmer to be. Hard working, just getting by, no ‘plan’ for the future.

We had a number of chats about farming when my French language skills finally got up to speed. For Bernard, living one day at a time was the norm. All he had ever known. Plowing, sowing, harvesting, that’s it. In a rare lucid moment after several glasses of his lethal home brewed and completely illegal eau de vie, 90% proof, he once confided that if he ever stopped to think beyond the set routine of planting and harvesting he would become so depressed he would not be able to function.

‘This has been my life. It is my life. It will be my life until I die.’ It was a bleak moment. I compared my availability of choice to those of this son of the soil and realised how lucky I was.

Even now, still in lockdown with a modern day version of the Plague unleashed on the world we have so much to be grateful for. This may be ‘our’ pandemic, but terrifying diseases are hardly new.

Here’s what Samuel Pepys had to say about ‘his’ plague:

“The taverns are fair full of gadabouts making merry this eve. Though I may press my face against the window like an urchin at a confectioner’s, I am tempted not by the sweetmeats within. A dram in exchange for the pox is an ill bargain indeed."

Samuel Pepys may or may not have written this in his celebrated diary as there are suggestions it was tagged on a few years later. I certainly can’t find it in my copy, but in style and attitude it’s a fair representation of the great diarist’s views.

Maybe it has been mischievously tagged on or maybe some long dead scholar just adding in a section of his writing discovered elsewhere, it was so long ago it would be easier to confirm the authorship of all Shakespeare’s plays.

However, Pepys did certainly write this next passage in his journal and it caught my eye when reading a section of Pepys’ Diary late one evening.

Yes, I know that may make me sound weird, but I have very broad tastes in literature and Samual Pepys is not even listed in the top fifty unlikely authors I continue to read and re-read

‘On hearing ill rumour that Londoners may soon be urged into their lodgings by Her Majesty’s men, I looked upon the street to see a gaggle of striplings making fair merry, and no doubt spreading the plague well about. Not a care had these rogues for the health of their elders!’

Oh Samuel, you could easily get a job as a roving tv reporter nowadays. Just dig out some of your old scribblings and stick them on autocue.

Lockdown, isolation, it has advantages. In times of peril it’s not a bad idea to establish priorities. A time to connect, or reconnect, with people we like and an ideal opportunity to let the ones we’ve never been all that keen on drift away.

I have hidden Marigold’s latest toy, the hair clippers. Even though the few remaining areas of what I used to call ‘hair’ have been surgically removed by this wild eyed woman wielding clippers she’s still got the idea my eyebrows are too bushy and could do with a ‘trim’.

Me, on the morning after Marigold scalped me. ‘Why have you put a picture of an old man in the bathroom?’

Marigold, ‘I haven’t, that’s a mirror.’

I’m not hugely impressed by the new ‘hairstyle’ and no amount of talk about the money we’ve saved on barbers will change that.

Marigold said, ‘women find bald men sexy,’ then looked at me, rather unkindly I thought, and added, ‘not all women and not all bald men though.’

Glancing into the communal bin the other day – old habits die hard – I noticed half a dozen bread crusts. We’ve gone back to the 1950s at our house, nothing is wasted. What’s wrong with crusts? A bread crust is still bread, just slightly firmer. I eat everything, crusts and all. No, it doesn’t always taste as good, but it’s still food. Even Marigold has a strange aversion to eating some crusts. I told her yesterday she could at least make an effort. After all she really liked the middle part of that water melon…

No, of course that isn't me! I'd never wear white socks with black knee supports

Marigold's latest hand made ear rings, a present from our lovely friend Gill. No chance of a photo of Marigold wearing them until she gets access to a hairdresser. My offers of help have been rejected

Bald men are sexy? Apparently not all of them. Maybe the pink shirt let me down