Lockdown Mk II: a blog

Yesterday mum announced that this year there would be no Christmas. I immediately responded that it wouldn’t be Christmas without Lottie. I knew instinctively it was the right thing to say, showing that that I not only agreed with the idea, but that I supported her in it.

Christmas has always centred around Lottie for as long as long as I can remember. I recall some of my first family Christmases, where I’d go and get Lottie up and out of bed on Christmas morning, and carry her into my parent’s room: woe be tide anyone making so much of a squeak before 7am mind.

There we would sit and dive into stockings – usually one of daddy’s thick green woollen work socks – as we delighted at what a wondrous assortment of gifts ‘Santa had brought us’, trying to keep the magic alive for little Lot. Lottie, who had developed a surprising amount of friends and well-wishers in her first few years on this earth, would have a small fabric bag, with her name stitched on it, filled with gifts and goodies too numerous to fit under the tree.

What might we have had in those stockings? Chocolate coins for sure, a small book or cassette tape – I remember the Pet Shop Boys ‘Introspective’ was a best present ever, all neatly wrapped and labelled. The obligatory orange in the foot of the sock along with some other novelty gifts, a pack of felt tips or later a geometry set. Another year I distinctly remember finding the must-have gift of that year, a Tamagotchi. This was state of the art stuff in the late nineties, the blocky dino creature that hatched on a tiny screen on a matchbox-sized toy, and rewarded you by growing and changing its pixelated shape, but only if you fed it and watered it and played with it. If you neglected it, and failed to ‘care’ for your pet, it turned up its heels, and the LED window showed a mound of earth with a cross in it. (…to be continued I’m just icing biscuits)

I’ve said before that it is a small miracle that they have managed to keep Lottie’s home virus free. Visiting has been restricted to garden visits when it is dry, and window visits when wet and too cold for fragile bodies to be out in the cold. My parents have taken priority with the visits, I have accompanied them on a couple of occasions. No-one from the outside has been in the home, not even to the reception area at the front. The staff and care teams have been extremely vigilant, and we are eternally grateful to them.

We may not be able to hold our Lottie, give her a hug and a kiss but we can rest a little easier knowing that, despite the terribly unfair isolation from the wider world, she is safe. Whether she will get one of the early vaccines, being as she is a vulnerable person in a care home, is anyone’s guess at the moment. Whatever happens we know that the staff will continue to do everything and more to keep the virus out, while somehow endeavouring to give the residents some kind of Christmas.

The decision whether to go ahead and do Christmas, will doubtless be played out within many households this year: but what do you do if the guest of honour is not there? The video-call, or over the phone in our case, is a poor substitution to being there to help her unwrap the presents, that you have agonised over, in the weeks and months leading up to the big day.

While many people will be on the move during the December window, taking advantage of the relaxation of restrictions, revelling perhaps in the chance for a few special days with loved ones not seen in person for months, please spare a thought for those families who have no chance of receiving anything more this year than a cursory look at their loved one, through a window pane. Christmas 2020 where respite for either party would feel like the biggest miracle of all.

Boris Rant: So considerate of the tory front bench to say that I am not handling lockdown mk2 and would like to reward me by allowing me the chance to kill my parents in a few weeks.

‘Christmas is coming the Rona’s coming back, please put a penny in the NHS cap, if you haven’t got a penny, a ha’penny will do, if you haven’t got a ha’penny then… who cares? Your govt is telling you to deliberately add to the death toll.

I didn’t see respite windows being made for people marking Diwali or Eid or any other religious festival… but oh no Christmas is fuckin’ sacrosanct. Boris wants to play Santa, and can’t abide the thought that his legacy as PM might read Covid-crook with piss poor oversight, incompetent, adulterer and Scrooge.

It’s about time he dragged his big boy pants on and made some leadership decisions instead of trying to be popular. ‘It’s time to be jolly careful,’ Are you for real? Welcome 2021 in with lockdown mk3 around the third week of January. As for going back into tiers, with all the movement next week with students returning home, and then a mass exodus again as people travel here, there and everywhere driving home for Christmas… the tiers will be as effective as a chocolate fireguard.

Do you remember when you were all stockpiling pasta and bog rolls when they announced just 67, yes 67 new covid cases? And what about when some hopeful yet misguided health bod said 20,000 deaths would be a good number?

If the vaccines are our way out of this – the world’s way out of this – then surely it would be best not to do anything, that is likely to kill more people than needed to die, before they’ve had chance of getting the jab?

Here’s a solution UK. Sod that just give me that turkey sandwich at my nan’s. Wait if you do this your nan might not be here at Easter… Do you know how much I’ve missed not seeing my family… Erm okay it’s been tough for many people but you might be responsible for killing them if you bring the infection in? Family means everything to me. I give up. Go kill your family… and do yourself while you are at it.

This goes down as possibly the worst decision of 2020… never mind bodging the spreadsheets; fudging the figures; contracts for contacts, ring of shite around care homes; missing the circuit breaker window. No this one really is criminal.

And today’s figure a mere 608 more deaths.

Old Imposters: Now before I get letters I am aware that there have been hundreds of thousands of people who have had to work through this pandemic; people turning their homes into offices, juggling childcare, homeschooling and for some who have worked triply hard at their regular jobs for example teachers and staff looking after and educating children of key-workers. There are many groups who have worked harder than ever they have this year and you all deserve to be applauded, awarded acknowledged and appreciated; and fairly paid, and not discriminated against, demonised or victimised. All that is true so hopefully that goes someway to me checking my privilege at the door but…

Since the last post it feels like the world has shifted once more, by how much is down to individual perception and the passing of time. we’ve had a Democrat win: lawsuits pending. A vaccine found: license pending, you should know by now there is always a caveat. Given all these notions of change in the air today why was my first thought, ‘Have I wasted all this time out?’

So I made a stream of conscious list: written a dozen or more poems, made a couple of short films, baked birthday cakes, spring cleaned a few times, made and remade the bed, learned some new dance phrases, cried, laughed hugged people virtually and metaphorically, got drunk more than once, got to grips with video conferencing, contributed to podcasts and radio shows, a few things in print, contributed to campaigns and crowd funds, wrote 50,000+ words on this site, window and garden visits with my sister, read new titles, bought harem pants and novelty socks online, worried about friends and family and strangers, watched a zillion press conferences, watched the news avoided the news, all the while avoiding knowingly contracting the virus. So why the sudden dose of imposter syndrome; and imposter of what and whom?

If my first thought upon hearing the news that we may have real hope of getting out of this in the next twelve months was to wag an accusatory finger at myself and demand what have I done, maybe, just maybe I wasn’t the only one?

I am now off to do the other thing I did in 2020 and that is to raise a smile, spread some joy, in another’s life; just by way of me being there.

Finished another book: finishing anything in 2020 ought be celebrated, albeit in a covid safe, government permissible way. I wonder whether writing about anyone else’s work in 2020 is wise, covid spectacles can’t help but colour your appreciation of everything, consciously or not. the book Imperfect Women by Araminta Hall was a pre-release copy offered up late summer by an author pal at a rare IRL boozy book swap lunch. I’d not read any of her previous titles and pretended not to see the Richard and Judy claim on the cover. After reading – I read it in two sittings over two weekends – I began writing which became this blog post: a coda to the 13 week Self Iso series.

Three protagonists each one distinct from the other just, characters with slightly worn tropes of a globe-trotting charity head, trying to discover who and what is most important to her; an academic who wastes potential by falling for professor with disastrous consequences, and a rich floozy struggling with motherhood and monogamy, about to do a permanent disappearing act.

As I read more about these three women now in their forties, each one tracing their lives back and forth revealing why, where and who they are in the present, I asked am I supposed to identify with one or all of them? I didn’t. Was the lack of identification nothing to do with the nature of the story and whether it was compelling – it is essentially a whodunnit and I’d pinned it down to two suspects fairly early in, and I was dead right – but more to do with a lack of relationship smarts and experience, in my own life? How could I possibly appreciate a story that every so often throws up a nugget about the differences between the two sexes, how each are motivated and or socialised to respond to each other, when the closest I come to complicated relationship stuff, is hours of listening – willingly I might add – to my friends’ joys and grievances with their assorted couplings and uncoupling.

I never thought about or planned to reach this age and still be single, I quite like the idea of a significant other, and it is true not every encounter has been a full-blown disaster. It’s the baggage that puts people off. I’m essentially a good person at heart and flip my radiating positivity switch as much as possible during the last few years. Once you sift through the trans tourists it becomes like a hunt in the proverbial haystack, finding someone who likes you for you. I am blessed, so very blessed, that I have a handful of really good friends, people who don’t have ulterior motives, a gorgeous group who don’t feel the need to bring me out at social occasions like an exotic zoo animal. Honestly some people do this blatantly, you must then decide if you want to be another exhibit in their coterie.

The denouement left me feeling cheated, no heart-racing final showdown devoured greedily with furious page-turning. But who am I to criticise and maybe I’m not reading it right, maybe the weight of the covid glasses have skewed my view?

I had planned this year to do a Masters myself, very glad to have deferred for another year – online lectures would have been soul destroying and at odds with my hope of having something akin to a student experience. I have just begun an online poetry writing course, I joined late after dance class finished the week before lockdown mk II was announced.

And here it is another blog post and the start of a new series as each of us bear witness to the second coming of coronavirus, knowing all the while that it never really went away.

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