Day Two

Wake up, reach into my pants and check if the Crown Jewels are still in place. They are.

Sigh in relief. One can never be too sure what happens to one’s jewellery when one disappears into the mindless vacuum of sleep.

Step into the shower and wonder at what point having hairy baubles became unfashionable. I remember being punished by the older boys at my secondary school for not having much hair. Now it seems to be the opposite.

Realise that I forgot to Google a lot of important things yesterday, but can’t remember what. Make a note to Google symptoms of memory loss.

Look out the window. Still no binge drinkers or corona zombies.

Walk downstairs and wonder if introverts and agoraphobes will seize power and inherit the earth. The odds must be pretty good now that millions of extroverts are on lockdown. Remind myself to Google Paddy Power later.

Make breakfast and wonder if descaling food kills corona and if the Banana cake Nanny made is safe to eat.

Eat a slice anyway because I want to feel alive. I add a dollop of cremefraich. If I’m going to go, I want to go in middleclass style.

Squirt antibacterial gel over my hands for the first time today and wonder if drinking it will infuse my entire body with bacterial immunity and render the need to wash my hands every four minutes redundant. I think about what Babe, a nurse, would say, “No, fuckwit. It will kill you.”

Take Babe her cup of tea, sourdough toast with Marmite, Mothers’ Day cards from the girls and a box of 12 macarons.

Rhubarb and Special join us. She’s delighted, and nearly cries because Rhubarb, five, spelt “pub” correctly in her card. Make a note to give her three marbles for the “achievement jar”, one for each letter.

I am not delighted. I like macarons and am now dependent on Babe’s generosity. I hope she’s a sharer.

Babe goes to Tescos during NHS hour, can’t find a parking space, calls me and we debate the wisdom of inviting huge numbers of NHS staff to congregate in one place at the same time that is not a hospital and not in any way set up to manage an influx of people who are at higher risk of carrying the virus. Then we debate the scarcity of loo roll and pasta. Babe wonders if we will now see the true colours of NHS staff. “There may be a punch up in the toiletries aisle yet.”

After two hours queuing, Babe returns with the following items:

  • 1 jar of Sharwood’s Bhuna sauce.
  • 1 extension lead.
  • The last bag of muesli.
  • 1 bag for life, full of guilt for taking the muesli.

Create a Spotify list called Corona Free. I can only be sad and fearful for so long. It’s time to laugh if we are going get through the next seven years.

Chat to my friend Bill in Shanghai. He asks what all the fuss is with us Brits stampeding for loo roll. All his Chinese students are curious as to what we’re doing. You can’t eat loo roll. Buy food they say. Buy food. Noted. Paper is not food.

Rhubarb and Special demand to go out. Babe unlocks the backdoor and releases them into the wild. We wave them off and cry. With joy. Then panic. They can’t climb the barbed-wire fence after all. They settle for Swingball.

Rhubarb and Special come in and start practising a new dance routine. I cry again. This will be the first of many I will have to watch and give praise for even if they’re shit. Babe says I should enjoy these moments while they last. She says they won’t be this young or want our attention once they’re teenagers.

Tell Babe to sod off.

Babe calls me mediocre in bed. I cry.

Granddad appears at the front window and Rhubarb opens it. Babe rushes towards her screaming. Granddad smiles.

Granddad motions that he’ll leave the booster for the TV aerial on the doorstep. Everyone warns / waves him off.

Boris announces stricter “shielding” and tighter enforcement of “self-isolating” might be needed if “we” can’t stay at home.

Download plans for how to build a tunnel. Text a Polish Canadian friend a few doors down to see if he wants to start digging from his side and meet in the middle. Try to order a spade from B&Q but the web page says “Item is currently out of stock.”

Blurt out: FFS. Is everyone panic buying spades now?!?!

Steve McQueen springs to mind. Manage to order a baseball glove and ball.

Special overhears the swearing: “That’s a pound in the swear box Dad.”

Buddy brings us a baby mouse. Babe thinks it looks cute and tells me not to squash it. Telling her it’s actually a baby rat changes her mind. “Vermin,” she cries, “throw it out the backdoor!” I do. Buddy follows it through the catflap.

Go to bed.

Babe asks me to take off my boots. I decline. Babe is not a sharer.

Drift off wondering if Rhubarb has corona and if Granddad will make it through tomorrow.