Alice down the rabbit-hole

Up till now I haven’t felt like writing anything. Other people seem to have “dropped off” (the radar, hopefully, as opposed to the perch) too. Also, my readers seem to have mostly vanished. That little world-map they give you? – is blank. That graph? One reader every few days – presumably having tripped and fallen into one of my old posts from somewhere more interesting or relevant. Like Alice down the rabbit-hole.

What is there to write about? It all seems so big, so irretrievable, so – final. Could this be the end of the world? I wouldn’t mind betting that when the End of the World finally does come, nobody will recognise it. And yet we have the wars, and rumours of wars; we have fires breaking out all over the place; we have the melting ice, the poisoned seas; we have the President of the United States suggesting people might inject themselves with disinfectant or “shine light inside their body” and now – full set, really – we have a Very Excellent Sort of Plague. No, when it ends it will be with a whimper. Everyone will be kidding themselves, right up to the last nanosecond, that it’s just a Bit of a Blip and things will go back to normal soon.

However, assuming this is not quite Armageddon, we have to manage it – and not only on a national and international level. Each one of us has to fashion a “new normal” that works for them and doesn’t endanger their neighbours.

I am supposed to be shielding, not, as you may have assumed, through old age, but because of this pesky “underlying health condition” which means my immune system is (probably) rubbish. I say probably because what I’ve got is rare and everybody seems to be hazarding guesses, rather, as to what might happen to me next – or eventually. Will she expire early, will she live out her natural lifespan, mildly but not too inconveniently symptomatic? Will she be more or less OK providing she manages to sidestep the odd, um, killer virus?

It has taken me four weeks of fruitless/answerless emailing to finally receive my “shielding” letter in the post. No Government food parcels as yet, but I suppose there’s still a faint hope. I do feel somewhat embittered about this. It’s bad enough having an illness that makes you feel wobbly and vaguely hung-over most days, without the built-in Invisibility Cloak. What is it about me, that people kind of skim over me? All my life – oy, here I am, mate, just under your nose! Grr…

However – yes, there is a however – today I took one small step towards my “new normal”. I got in my car (having looked both ways in case the neighbours were watching from behind their net curtains) and drove it as far as the roundabout above the next village, then drove it home. The roads were more or less deserted but all the while I was expecting policemen to leap out from behind the bushes, insist that I wind down my windows, and – blowing in gusts of virus-laden breath – question me as to why I had dared to leave my house at all. More than a touch paranoid by this time, obviously.

I have been inside my house and garden since two weeks before lockdown. I self-isolated, knowing I needed to, in spite of the Invisibility Cloak. I have not even walked up the road to post a letter. Meanwhile, my car was slowly dying, nose slightly downwards, on the driveway. It’s tyres began to look unhappy – squashed into the same position. It wouldn’t start. One AA man and a lecture on “How Not To Flood A Car Engine” later, I knew to start it once a week and run it for half an hour, still nose downwards on the driveway.

Then I realised that it wasn’t just the car. By the time I have my next (rearranged) hospital appointment in November, I may well have forgotten how to drive. You don’t want your first terrified time behind the wheel in seven months to be the one where you have to negotiate an hour-long, steering-wheel gripping obstacle course of traffic, traffic-lights and multi-lane roundabouts. I needed to maintain me as well as the motor. So today, with the windows tightly wound up, a green bandanna round my neck in case sudden masking should be required, a bottle of veterinary hand-steriliser and a big pack of antiseptic hand-wipes, I set forth.

It was like a small cloud lifting. I hadn’t realised how depressed I had got until I saw (through my tightly wound-up windows) that the sky was blue, the clouds white etc. Spring had sprung, in my absence. Last time I saw the fields they were brown – now they are acid yellow, with a crop of oil-seed rape. The same roads are there, with the same patches and potholes that I remember. There are people – not many, but the occasional one. Strange, upright creatures – how have I never properly looked at them before? Fancy – things that walk on two legs! I had thought – dear Lord, I had imagined I was the only one left.

15 thoughts on “Alice down the rabbit-hole

  1. You’re not the only one having trouble engaging with social media. I ‘dropped off’ too, and am only just feeling my way back again. I’ve felt apathetic about engaging, preferring to just hide away.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m here!

    Your post puts me in mind of a New Zealand movie from 1985 – The Quiet Earth – a man wakes after an “event” in which everyone disappears – EXCEPT those who were dying at the moment of the aforementioned “event”. Our hero finds himself wandering alone, slowly going mad until… he can’t believe his eyes! “A strange, upright creature – a thing that walk on two legs!”

    I’ve been challenged by social media – torn between wanting to stay in touch on the one hand, and not wanting to overload about current events on the other. Writing about anything other than current events feels tone deaf. Yet others tell me that they long for normality – or what passed for normality from the “before days.”

    I’m just glad to hear from you and to know that you are still here, too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Maggie, good to know you are still there too. I will look for The Quiet Earth – maybe they will have it on Prime. It was a very strange feeling, for a moment, to not quite recognise your own species. Yes, what else can you write about? Novels written ‘before’ now seem too naive and out of date to read. Films and TV programmes from ‘before’ just make me want to shout “too close” or “mask! mask!” Ah, well. ..

      Liked by 1 person

  3. So glad you decided to go out with the car…not only to keep up the skills, but to see the world outside the house andgarden.
    There is no lockdown here – just constant urging to stay at hime for those who can and restrictions on car travel…two days a week according to the number plate and no travek at night.
    Husband’s illness puts him at risk with any bug, so we are used to shutting ourselves in but, having had doctors telling him to stay put they have now issued him with an appointment – on a Saturday when we are not supposed to use the car on pain of a whopping fine – at the main hospital in the capital. I can’t think of a more risky place to visit! We have rung the transit police – a ferocious gang of cash extractors – who say that if we show the appointment letter there will not be a fine to pay….as one says in Scotland, Aye, right.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, gosh. There do seem to be horrendous sets of contradictions and possibilities in all this. At one point (well, still) we were being told by Tesco not to order online ( not that there were any delivery slots to be had anyway) but to go and queue up at the physical store. Yet we weren’t supposed to go out. They wanted us indoors yet commanded us to be outdoors. I can’t handle all this stuff. I need things to be logical, if nothing else 🐈 Hopefully showing the appointment letter will placate your ferocious police. I am even afraid of our comparatively mild version since they started following harmless dog-walkers around with drones in country parks, and darkly hinting they might be lurking in supermarkets to check people weren’t buying luxuries as well as necessities.

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      1. On the whole it is reasonable here…no lockdown, shops sorted special hours for the vulnerable, and I notice that on weekdays most of the small shops are now open, though closed on weekends when just the supermarkets and chemists are open. People tend to observe the distance stuff, too and our hands will be worn down to the bone if they receive any more gel.
        I just cannot understand why they insist in Leo going in for an appointment having told him to stay at home! I will ring the department again and see if I can find someone with a brain in their head to sort this out.
        The ordinary police are sweeties on the whole…last week one was controlling traffic into a checkpoint by waving a submachine gun at drivers…clearly hadn’t a clue how to use it! The Transitos are another matter…any excuse to fine you.
        A friend in London says that people seem to be drifting back to work to judge by the traffic passing her house, she, like most people I still know in the U.K. thinks the whole thing a disorganised mess.

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  4. I’m so glad you finally went outside! Staying in the house for so long is going to cause major depression, no matter what. We’re all still here, just not having as much time or as much heart for blogging, as this thing just drags on and on…

    In the States, most areas are on a “shelter at home” order, which means stay at home except for going to buy food, medicine or necessities, or delivering supplies to those who need it. Essential businesses are open, so probably about 1/4 of the population is still going to work, 1/2 is working from home, and 1/4 suddenly found themselves out of work. It’s a mess, with some people wanting to open up everything yesterday, and others wanting to stay on a lock down until a vaccine is found in 2023. Meanwhile, 44 million Americans filed for unemployment in a single day. We’ll be feeling the effects of this one for a long, long time, sadly.
    Hang in there, my friend!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Ann, I’ve been watching news reports, film and interviews from the States. We get quite a lot via Sky and the BBC, from all round the world. I am relieved that the President has temporarily given up the bizarre daily press briefings, as we were forced to watch extensive highlights of those too. It does just drag on and on, as you say, and is causing so much distress, economically and personally. I am having to “shield”, which is the strictest form of “shelter at home” and can’t quite see how I will ever be able to “un-shield” at this rate. In the general population, it sounds much the same as where you are – people can shop, infrequently, for groceries and meds, they have to work at home if possible; schools closed, exams cancelled, all but essential businesses closed, staff furloughed, or dismissed. No hairdressers, so wives having to trim husbands’ hair and vice versa. They’re allowed out for a walk or run once a day. No more than two people to gather, in public, standing two metres distant. People over 70 must shield too, and have to wave to their grand-childen from behind closed windows. It is very depressing. Makes you appreciate freedom to roam, the countryside, fresh air, sunshine, casual chats with neighbours, shops, views… But you hang in there too, Ann. Sooner or later things will be better. Linda

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m still here too! Yes, I’m glad you went out, Linda. Much needed.
    I haven’t been able to bring myself to write – just too many words to say to even know where to start. On top of that, I seem to have reverted to adolescent mood swings, despite my great age, so that whatever I write on any occasion will be nothing like a true reflection of what I’m feeling ten minutes later.
    Such a strange time.
    Sending you good wishes and hoping somehow (how?) an end to all this will come soon,

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good wishes to you, too, Jan. I am thinking a lot a out all my blogging friends, who have become as real to me as those I can (could once) be with in person. I feel ‘different ‘ too. One moment I can be weeping into the washing up over a nice man I once knew, found dead, cause unknown, at 57. The next minute I am surprised by something unfamiliar that might be happiness, as if this state of sequestration (is that the right word?) is, in a sense the ‘other planet’ people like me were banished from. On the other hand, when your broadband connection suddenly disappears… Lin xx

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