This lunchtime I took my coffee and a book out behind the garage. It’s the only place my neighbours can’t spy on me, gazing down from their newly reinstated decking. Behind the garage, on my faded green plastic chair, surrounded by weeds I no longer have the energy or inclination to pull out, I read another couple of chapters of At Mrs Lippincote’s. Slower reader, nowadays – and after all, what’s the hurry?
I look at the Triffid assortment and think “You are alive, at least, and I don’t intend to spoil your day in the sunshine. Go right ahead, Mr Nightshade. Keep right on, Mr Thistle. Burgeon, Miss – whatever you are. Let us veg out together. I have always applied this principle to animals/bugs etc; now I have extended it to weeds. I have become – St Francis – ish.
I am supposed to be “shielding” because I have one of the health conditions on The List that makes me, technically, Extremely Vulnerable. Unfortunately although my condition is clearly listed on The List I am not in receipt of The Letter from NHS Digital (the idiot arm of the National Health Service). Apparently thousands of people have been overlooked.
Without The Letter I am invisible – not entitled to help from one of the army of kind NHS Volunteers – things like collecting prescriptions, phoning to see if you are all right – or the Food Parcels. I would have so appreciated Food Parcels – psychologically as much as practically – especially as I have had to mortgage everything sourcing any old tins of cat food and bags of cat litter from anywhere, and at amazingly huge prices.
You see, they don’t think, when they have these pandemics, that not everyone is going to have the standard 1.5 pet household. They just ration everything, willy-nilly, to only two or three. Two or three bundles of cat food would last me a couple of days. Am I supposed to watch the little moggies starve? However, it’s all right at the moment – and I haven’t told them they might be out pursuing rats and sparrows soon, in case they worry.
I count my blessings. I am alive – neither my “underlying condition” nor Coronavirus have killed me yet. I have a garage full of cat food, a garden full of weeds, and the sun is shining. I am also making a quilt. I find the monotony of sewing together all those tiny squares with tiny, neat stitches, immeasurably soothing. It connects me to the past, and to other women. I imagine them in remote Alaskan log-cabins, or sitting outside their doorways watching people strolling past on cobbled streets; or curled up in cane chairs in quiet, rainy conservatories deep in the green heart of England.
I forgot N’s birthday. One day seems so much like another, doesn’t it? In any case, if I had got a card, I probably would have been tempted to plod up to the Rusty Post Box to post it – through that sea of little droplets coughed and sneezed out by others. And really, I shouldn’t even do that – even though I haven’t been sent The Letter instructing me to “shield”. Officially, I suppose, one could still go wild and – go for a little walk once a day. But I don’t. I don’t like the idea of those ventilators.
Poor Boris is really, really ill. I do worry about him, since I feel at this time we really need him to be “with us”. Him and The Queen. English Sister wrote at one point that she didn’t much care what happened to Boris, as he was “an arse”. But that of course was before he got taken into intensive care. Also, there is no one of any character to replace him – just a lot of grey chaps in grey suits, standing there looking dubious at the Daily Briefing. Which, by the way, will be starting soon. Not that it will produce anything new. More people dead. More brave doctors and nurses praised. More admonitions to Stay Home, Protect The NHS, Save Lives from people who have unimaginable amounts of money, and huge back gardens to retreat to. Bet they aren’t having to hide Behind The Garage, amid the Triffids.
Stay safe, all of you.