The world has stopped. As coronavirus sweeps across the planet and rips through the UK, I am at home with our two boys aged 9 and 6. I'm writing to work through these strange times and help me stay sane.
Strip tease and silver linings
It’s 5.45pm on a Tuesday and I’ve just watched my wife strip. She stripped for me yesterday too. No, I’m not living The L Word dream life. This is our corona life – moree like an I-got-drunk-in-the-afternoon-then-went-to-bed-dehydrated dream. My wife arrived home from work, parked up in our street, phoned me to announce her arrival and arrange safe entry to our home. I run about checking things. Kids watch TV: CHECK! Shower on: CHECK! Shower door open: CHECK! Curtain up on the landing window so she doesn’t flash the street: CHECK! Front door ajar: CHECK! I move to a safe distance away and give the OK. She navigates her way into the house as far as the mat, touching as little as possible, removes her clothes, puts them in a plastic bag, then carefully goes upstairs to shower. Lucky for me she’s a zoo vet so adept at contamination control. Unlucky for all of us she’s a zoo vet and has to keep going to work throughout this crisis.
Today is day one of official isolation for us in the UK. Last night Boris finally stepped up and told the nation to stay at home. It’s day two of self-isolation for our two boys and me. I woke up yesterday resolved to it. We had tried to get out to places without people over the weekend. A walk on the Mendips was a success on Saturday. The packed parking area must have been dog-walkers using a different patch to us. We romped about climbing rocks and gullies and jumping into mossy dips for an hour and a half and only saw a couple of other families. On Sunday we tried a bike ride in the city – through the cemetery, along the river then back home through the park. With a nine year old who can be a bit dippy and a six year old recently diagnosed with autism it was stressful, even with two adults. The park was full of unpredictable idiots: teenagers hanging out, twenty somethings catching up with mates despite advice to only be with the people you live with, dog walkers with their headphones in, all merrily cutting past within one foot even with our bikes. The 2m social distancing rule was forgotten. I woke up that the night at 1am, went on Facebook and after a few scrolls of my thumb realised self-isolation was the only thing within my power. Poor Italy had been shouting at us for some time but we’ve been deaf. I wish I’d paid attention to the friends mentioning “self-isolation, self-isolation” two weeks ago. But it’s OK people – I made up for it. After a night of interrupted sleep I was in fighting form. I told my oblivious 94-year-old granddad who was still driving to the GP and popping to the local shop that this virus was killing for people in his demographic and that he may be ready to die but did he want his friends or family left behind thinking they were the ones that gave it to him? I upset him so much he practically hung up on me. Then I pissed off a very good friend with mental health issues who had gone out for a well-isolated although admittedly challenging walk by mentioning Live and Let Live translating to Live and Condemning Others to Die. Yep. Not my finest hour. I don’t usually challenge people so aggressively – I’m usually very measured. This crisis has thrown me for a spin and brought out my dark side. And it’s going to get darker.
But that was yesterday. Today I’ve noticed some silver linings.
Firstly 12 weeks of self-isolation will end our war with odd socks. Secondly I found three items that have been missing for months: the dishwasher tray wheel, the most used vacuum cleaner nozzle and the lid to our new water bottle. All in one day. ALL IN ONE DAY. Self-isolating for a not yet visible virus is surreal but this triple find is a chart topper. And lets not forget that I get to watch my wife strip on a daily basis.