Five mornings a week the alarm goes off at 6.30am and the Best Beloved gets up, goes downstairs, feeds the cats, eats a bowl of cereal, goes into the bathroom to perform his ablutions, comes back upstairs with two mugs of tea and waits for the 'phone to ring with an offer of work for the day. Most days it doesn't ring - it only rang once in October and this month it has rung six times so far. If it does ring he dons his trousers, shirt and tie, makes himself a packed lunch, picks up his jar of coffee, mask, hand gel and briefcase and drives off to work. If it doesn't ring by 8.30am he dons a pair of shorts and a jumper, picks up his walking boots and drives off to the nearest hill for a walk. During this second lockdown the hill has been very busy as gyms have been closed and some of those who would usually take their exercise in a gym have been walking up and down the hill instead - the Best Beloved says this is obvious because they are wearing sports leggings, have headphones in their ears and carry water bottles. He is glad the gyms will be reopening next week.
My grandchildren attend a nursery two days each week while their parents are at work and three times this term Cottontail has been sent home with a cough or a raised temperature and had to have a covid-19 test. The whole family has then had to isolate themselves for two days while they waited for the results, which have been negative every time. With a negative result, the parents have been able to return to work and the children to nursery.
I was offered a job in September. It seemed genuine, the manager took up references and I had to complete a DBS application online and provide the company with evidence that I really am who I say I am. The company owner told a friend of mine, who is his neighbour, that I am lovely! After waiting in silence for a few weeks, I rang the office to find out what was happening and the manager told me that the owner has a different plan now. She didn't actually say, "We don't want you anymore," but I realised that she meant it. To use a cliche, it was a crushing disappointment.
I have been waiting in for deliveries. With Christmas approaching and non-essential stores closed, I have ordered gifts online (eschewing the large company named after a river in South America and choosing small, independent businesses instead). Waiting for them makes me anxious, although it's not as if I have anywhere else to go, but the confinement is limiting. I just know that if I pop outside to put something in the bin or sweep up the leaves, the parcel will arrive during those minutes and be driven off somewhere else, necessitating another wait on another day. I even worry about popping into the bathroom!
We have been waiting for The Mathematician to visit us for months. Her planned visits in April, May, July, October and November were all cancelled by covid. Each time we have a tentative plan the situation changes and the plan goes out of the window. We all miss each other very much and she is as desperate to see us as we are to see her.
Like everyone else in the UK, we are waiting to find out what the restrictions will be in our area once the lockdown is lifted next week. Will we be in able to meet with other households indoors? Will all our shops be open? And of course, how will we be able to celebrate Christmas? I don't think we'll be able to hold our usual gathering of four generations from eight households but will we be able to be with both of our daughters at the same time? Will my parents be able to see their great-grandchildren? Will there be church services? Will I be able to use the restaurant voucher which my sisters gave me for Christmas last year?
I am a planner, I like to know what's ahead of me so I have found all this not-knowing difficult to bear. Last week, I decided that I can't carry on like this any more, waiting while the sand shifts beneath my feet. It's shredding me. So, I decided that we will not make any plans for December, other than that we shall put up a Christmas tree on the day of the winter solstice. We'll be very, very flexible and go with the flow - if we can spend time with our nearest and dearest, that will be a bonus but if we can't, we'll spend it "a deux" and make sure we have plenty of treats. We shall make the best of whatever it turns out to be and I will not be disappointed. The Best Beloved declared himself unavailable for work on Thursday and Friday last week and we had two lovely, relaxed mornings without hovering anxiously by the 'phone. I felt the tension ease, physically and mentally.
One thing I have done is buy this little book for myself.
Yuletide is a sort of Advent calendar, with a page for each of the days of December. The introduction states,
"We would like to take you on a journey through the dark days of December by telling you a little about the festive season's ancient past, traditions, ways, folklore, stories, superstitions and musings relating to the British Isles."
Just my kind of thing. My Advent calendar is eight or nine years old now, every January I fold the little cardboard doors back down and weight it down under a heavy book so that I can open them up again the following December, so I didn't feel guilty about treating myself to this book. I bought it here if you fancy taking a look. Talking Trees Books were an excellent company to deal with and I think I shall be shopping there again.
Whatever is happening to you in your part of the planet, I hope you are safe and well and if the best you can do is to cope, scraping through by the skin of your teeth, well done. You are doing enough. Take care.
See you soon.
Love, Mrs Tiggywinkle x