Coal dust and masticated paper

3:30 am – in bed – restless – had an ant crawl over me yesterday can’t seem to shake off the anty feeling.

…and still feeling a bit guilty that we are lucky enough to be able to have a nice time while locked down. How can one report positively about something that for so many is a nightmare without sounding like a thoughtless prat. Everyone in our circle seems to have be pretty ok, which is great of course,  but one does feel as though something terribly important is taking place and somehow or other you didn’t get invited or didn’t  notice, didn’t care or didn’t get up in time. Now i have my letter from the Government telling me to STAY AT HOME for 12 weeks – Nonna already has hers, we at least feel licensed to hunker down even though I would imagine our pre existing rural isolation probably reduces the risk of bumping into the virus – hope so anyway.

We have a routine

During the week Maria and I can be heard simultaneously theatrically ‘projecting’ unnecessarily  into our laptops as though talking loudly and enthusiastically will in some way make up for our disembodiment. There really is no reason to shout when video conferencing – if you are too quiet the other end can turn you up. We still take a walk everyday – blah!  We have revived the tandem but the arse punishment from the ‘sports’ saddles at the end of a mile or two curbs our enthusiasm. Presumably this is exacerbated by the fact that most of the day’s laptop screaming has already inflamed the nether regions.  In the evening we watch telly. Mainly bleak stuff. Apocalyptic quantum visions of a technology tainted world like ‘Devs’ or ‘Black Mirror’ or grissly murderers tracked down by canny lady geordies with common sense and a wry wit like ‘Vera.’   At the weekend our little world is peopled by besandled polite children romping around on bikes while their mums and dads stand in choreographed groups, holding equally polite pups, sharing confinement recipes for yogurt and samphire crisps. 

Its like we are all revelling in a blissful echo of the-famous-five-meets-1940’s-good-housekeeping-magazine- bloomin heck Vera Lynne and that old WW2 Captain are number one in the charts! he may be an excellent walker round the garden but he ain’t no Vera Lynne – have you heard it? Making jam, making face masks, probably making our beds with hospital corners, applauding our heros and tuning into the wireless at tea time to hear how the war is going. That said the only refreshing indicator of underlying anarchy here is a sudden proliferation of people who don’t pick up their pups poos. It has so outraged someone form the council that they have sprayed all the offensive output bright yellow. Kind off rural Banksy treasure hunt. Maybe we should spray the rebellious non-social distancers yellow as well.

Our weekly highlights tend to be whatever it is our children are up to that we can take some credit for (luckily Lisa is on a roll with her album launch and online gigs and a broadcast on Jazz FM!!! – so that gives us something to show off about – which i do as you know) and Waitrose deliveries. Recommendations include: their own brand oven chips, Merlot grape juice and Victoria Sponge. I have rediscovered tinned Semolina and have a single packet of Angel Delight waiting to be unveiled. I still eat like an eight year old but have at least given up the four spoons of sugar in my tea.

Av and G arranged for Nikki (family) to show us how to use an Oximeter (the thing on your finger in hospital) to, as it were, try to predict the onset of serious virus issues. She is a doctor working in London at the sharp end of general practice and A and G and Nikki bought us three vulnerable sets of parents together for an online demo. Really thoughtful of them and very reassuring for us to get some direct advice from a pro who is actually dealing with the symptoms on a daily basis. We are really grateful… and they bought us the gadget. Anyone else in the family who wants to know more I will pass on the details. Its very important stuff for those at increased risk.

Outside of work Maria and I have never been great doers, in the sense of achievements, adventures, contributions to the community, charity, good causes… anything really… but in the last month or so we have set new records for doing nothing of value. We have done lots of things of no value but straightening our lawn borders is probably the most least value. There is a technique using a plank my dad taught me – happy to pass that on along with the oximeter advice to fellow anal gardeners who like to cut their turf to the cm and stay alive.

My dear friend Paul the composer chap has asked me to collaborate on a project based in Mexico but broadcast online. I haven’t the foggiest what he’s up to be frank but that’s how we have always worked together – one of us steers the ship while other swims along behind trying to keep up, occasionally shouting ‘land ahoy’ – then we usually but not always hit the rocks – whatever… his idea is very cool and uses some licks from a percussionist I am somewhat related to.

Later on Saturday.

Just finished a day of physical outdoor work – probably my first since falling off the phone box – that put me off for 4 years.  We ordered a skip for Nonna. (Pause for jokes) Les Dawson Mother-in-law jokes aside, we are clearing her garage of a bounty of stuff bought over from Italy and never used. The in-laws were big on noxious chemicals long since banned in the rest of the EU and the world (DDT comes to mind) and similarly dangerous wine making, tomato pressing and boiling kit that look like the three witches wedding gifts. Actually I have kept most of that because the plan is to move her into the garage now cleared and take over the rest of the house to manufacture class A drugs like in Breaking Bad ( I gather anyway – only made it through one episode – boring!) , no not really, the plan is to move her in there so she doesn’t catch the virus. She will have her electric reclining chair thing and a cat flap. No not really, the plan is to turn it into a music studio so Maria and I can record a Christmas album of seasonal duets. Ahhh who knows what the plan is it’s just fun to chuck stuff away that doesn’t belong to you but is annoying. The skip is now nearly full and I feel the same sense of achievement that I felt after perfecting my ultraprecise grassy borders with a plank. One point of interest is the Maria insisted I preserve the coal dust from a derelict bunker as she plans to make coal cakes from the dust and masticated newspaper – something to look forward to on those wintry Yorkshire nights. Btw you burn them not eat them and this time I really am not joking. You couldn’t make that one up. It’s perfect M.

I have not got round to writing about what I intended so I will save that.

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