“Get off that bloody Play Station and brush the dog, there’s
tumbleweeds of hair everywhere”
“Because I say so!”
”Why can’t Dad do it?”
“Dad is busy!”
“No he’s not. He’s
watching Star Trek and eating custard creams”
“Are you eating the last of the Biscuits?”
“We need to start packing soon Marcus, just in case we
complete on April fool’s day, can you get the stuff off the top of the wardrobe?”
“I will, after Spock saves the Enterprise from the Tribble”
“*sigh* …I’m cooking lunch in a minute, can you both set the
table? Hello, hello? Oh fu*k it, you can get your own bloody food,
I’m going back to bed!”
“That cloud looks like a sausage dog; look it’s got one leg
shorter than the other”
I am sat on the balcony with my husband. All attempts at personal grooming have vacated
the building and I’m slowly starting to resemble Waynetta’s uglier sibling. The bathroom, in desperate need of a damp
sponge and a vat of bleach, waits patiently while Facebook and WhatsApp take
precedence over household chores. Nobody
is coming to visit us any more so why bother?
“I think I’ll walk Brian over to the office, make sure
everything is ok, no leaks or power cuts” my husband mumbles to no one in
The “Office” is the term we use for our new business and is on the street behind us. We daren’t say the name of it just in case armageddon actually occurs and we never get to open. Weeks have been spent renovating the existing template but now it’s just sat there, waiting to be explored, lonely in its enforced isolation. When will it be full of curious customers? Only this virus knows the answer. We no longer get to dictate our lives, an invisible force is playing hide and seek with our waking days and time is the only master.
I look up the sky, the sausage dog has gone. It’s just a blanket of grey enveloping the
“Grab a bottle of Vodka on your way back,” I say to the departing figure, “I think we are going to need it.”
I’m having a lovely time with Hugh Jackman, sipping cocktails
in his Jacuzzi while he tenderly massages my…
“Can’t you hear the buzzer?
I’m in the loo! It’s the Amazon
delivery… Hurry up or he’ll go!”
I’m ripped out of my slumber by my husband yelling at me
from the throne in the bathroom and I stagger out of bed and into the lounge whilst
grasping my Dunelm dressing gown to my kebab friendly torso. I fling open the front door and I’m greeted by
Darth Vader’s older sibling who promptly thrusts out a brown box for me to take.
I barely have time to ask if the force
is with him before he disappears back down the communal stairs in a puff off sanitized
Gently I place the familiar brown package on the table and go
and unlock the balcony door. It’s
raining outside and the streets are eerily quiet. In the distance I can hear the inhabitants of
Biopark shouting for their breakfast and I look out onto the pavements for
signs of life. The Panaderia across the
road from us is open and a couple of people are stood outside it, keeping a
respectful meter distance apart while they wait in line for fresh bread.
My husband, fresh from his ablutions, saunters into the lounge
and stares at the box on the table and then at me.
“Have you washed your hands?”
I look at him enquiringly. I’ve not been anywhere to need to wash my
hands. Then it dawns on me. The parcel, it could be holding a virus party
all over its exterior, an invisible germ rave.
Shaking my head I head over to the sink and destroy yet
another layer of my skin with washing up liquid and boiling hot water then pat them
dry on my dressing gown.
“I’m going to walk Brian over to the office after breakfast, give the props another coat of paint, are you coming? You’ll have to walk behind me if you do, take a shopping bag so it looks like your off to get supplies” he enquires.
“Why don’t you just get me a red cape too and I can pretend I’m
an extra in The Handmaid’s Tale? I’ll
yell ‘Unclean Unclean’ just to make the
walk more interesting if you like?”
My husband, used to my frustrated outbursts, just ignores my
sarcastic comments and makes himself another coffee.
“What’s in the box anyway” I mumble, in way of an apology.
“It’s that projector we ordered for the office entrance hall. I’m going set it up tonight in the lounge and we use it like a cinema screen until the business opens…..”
Ah yes, the business. Have I told you about that? No? Well, here’s a funny story…
A New Strife in the Sun: Coronavirus, A brief interlude
LOCKDOWN… DAY 1!
“It’s my turn to walk Brian, you walked him last time! Where’s his pet passport, have you hidden it?” My husband stares accusingly at me while I fiddle with my Lidl bag.
“It’s where you left it, on top of the packing boxes, open your eyes!”, I yell back through the bubble wrap.
It’s March 15th and we have been ordered to stay indoors, which is a tad inconvenient seeing as though we are due to complete on our flat in 2 weeks time. We have already paid a deposit on rented accommodation and have committed to purchasing an ongoing business.
All of this on the
proviso that we complete on our flat on April the first. But there’s one more fly in this ludicrous
ointment, our buyers live in Denmark and unless they plan to swim over (which
is forbidden as all the beaches in Spain have been shut) I have no idea how any
of the above is going to be achievable.
Oh, and my son is due to start a new fee paying international
school, did I mention that?
“Mum, can I go on my Play Station seeing as there’s no school? It’s a war game so it’s kind of like studying History…”
I stare longingly at the bottle of Vodka nestled happily between the loaves of Bimbo bread. We have decided to give up alcohol until this whole pandemic is over but already I can feel my willpower slipping away, not unlike my good health if I decide to start licking external door handles.
“Do we need anything from the supermarket while I’m walking
the dog?” my spouse cheerily enquires.
“No! That’s another day out, we can’t combine the two! If you’re walking the dog then I get to go to Iceland to buy Vimto and chat to the lady who calls everyone Sweetie”, I reply… less cheerfully.
My husband frowns “are you allowed to go to Iceland? That’s over the bridge, we have El Jamon closer, won’t you get frog marched home by the lurgy police?”
I stare at the man I married. Does he not know me at all? How is a middle aged woman supposed to stay in enforced solitary confinement without a supply of Scotch eggs and a pack of frozen crumpets? If he thinks a man in uniform is going to come between me and my pack of overpriced Ginsters then he’s sadly mistaken.
Grabbing my moped keys I make a bid for freedom out the front door. I have my passport, I have my Nie, I have my scarf wrapped round my face and my latex gloves on. I have my hastily sanitized 50 euro note.
“Have I forgotten anything?” I wheeze through my wool enclave as I turn at
“Yes you have Paula, it’s Sunday, and the supermarkets are shut!”
‘Are you going to actually consume that final chipolata or
are you just setting it up on a blind date with your last remaining sprout?’
My son nods, crams the remnants of his lunch into his mouth
and then continues to sway to an unheard rhythm, Christmas Air-Pods stuck
firmly in his ears, tapping his legs in time to whatever society dictates is
music these days. I look over at my
husband to share a conspiratorial smile but his head is also down, tapping at
his phone screen whilst shaking his graying head in a Victor Meldrew fashion. An audible sigh escapes my lips and I reach
across the dinner table to clear the festive plates away from the unresponsive
pair. Another wishbone pulled, another
dream unanswered, another day in the sun.
Brian ‘the ever hopeful’ is sat by the kitchen door,
longingly staring up at the carcass of the ransacked turkey, tail wagging in
anticipation of his own festive meal. I
place the remnants of our plates into his bowl and he greedily devours the
contents with canine glee.
My husband’s voice breaks through the silence
“I’ve got a job on for tomorrow, a bloke in La Cala needs me to fix his Jacuzzi; he’s got friends over for New Year and they are refusing to get in until it’s got steam coming off it”
Once a lighting technician in the theatre, he had no choice but to return to being a jobbing electrician/handyman after redundancy stabbed him in the back. The manual labour he thought he had left behind was now part of his every waking day and each morning I listened to his bones creak like an old rocking chair left to the depredation of passing time.
My own adored job working for Tui as a resort rep was nothing but a distant seasonal memory. The powers that be decided to reward me for reaching (and exceeding) my monthly targets by removing me from the hotel I knew and loved and shoving me into an establishment that would give ‘The Outlook Hotel’ a run for its money. All that was required to complete this seafront vision was a frustrated writer with an axe and a pair of twins to haunt the corridors. The clientele, no longer tanned and affluent, had been replaced with elderly patrons insistent on having an ambulance on speed dial just in case the porridge wasn’t heated to the required nuclear temperature. I spent most of my mornings hiding under the stairs, avoiding wheelchairs and inebriated pensioners with burnt tongues.
“What’s for dessert mum? I’m still famished! Dad’s eaten all
the mince pies AGAIN and I’m not allowed any more After Eights”
I turn to look at my son and have to crane my neck upwards to speak him. Almost 6 foot now, all limbs and legs and attitude encased in teenage angst.
“I’ll make you a fruit salad; you’ve had enough sweets
today. Anyway, I thought you were
meeting up with your friends at the skate park today? Go and see if they’ve
messaged while I make dessert”
Turning to my husband I grab his glass of half finished wine
from the table and motion for him to join me on the balcony. Outside in the street one of the local
residents that we have fondly nicknamed ‘Crazy Jesus’ is waving his arms about
outside the Panaderia, shouting at invisible apostles whilst consuming a pastry
encased in what looks like melted chocolate, pausing only to swallow a mouthful
before his tirade of expletives continues.
I turn to look at my husband. He doesn’t laugh a lot nowadays and I wonder,
not for the first time if he is suffering from depression. Losing his job hit him hard, he loved lighting
the luvvies and watching each show evolve onstage. Now he was back to hauling tools around on his
back and fixing other peoples botched electrics. He had stepped back in time with no tardis at
hand to return to the future.
Taking a deep breath I voiced what had been on my mind for a
while, the only solution to our ailing financial situation, a chance to begin
“I think we should sell the flat and buy a business and work
for ourselves here on the coast…. and stop answering to fools”
I await his reply, it’s a risk, a big risk, but isn’t that
why we moved out here in the first place?
Wary green eyes meet optimistic brown and a long forgotten dream
suddenly resurfaces from behind a cloud of disappointment. A smile reaches his lips, the first genuine
one I’ve seen in a long time.
“F*ck it, let’s do it, what’s the worst that could possibly happen?”
To be continued…
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