Futureshock

So – that’s fine then. Our Prime Minister has spoken and now we just need to…well I’ll be honest, I have no idea. To be fair, I’m not sure what he was supposed to say. The fact is that the only reason that infection levels have dropped is because we are all holding each other at arm’s length. If we all come skipping out hand in hand (as a few did on V.E. Day apparently) things will soon be exactly as they were in April surely?

Still, there was a lack of detail and, for me, the biggest gap was any give on family. Can you visit and have a socially distanced cup of tea? Who knows? I have no answers either. Aged Parent is working on the premise that the lockdown is permanent I think and she seems to be fine with it. The thing that annoyed her most is that the manager at the sheltered housing has put a notice on her door saying “Do Not Enter!” It has not occurred to AP that this is a safety measure for her own good.

“The trouble with her is that she doesn’t want to know us. Fancy putting a notice like that on your door. Too good for us is she?”

I’ll be honest. I didn’t contradict her. Sometimes it’s all quite tiring.

This weekend was going to be our son and his girlfriend’s wedding. It was disappointing obviously but, in the end, they weren’t too bad. I think strong drink may have been taken. It made HOH and me think about some of the things we had begun to plan that has all gone South now

  1. Weekend in Amsterdam
  2. Weekend in Paris with FOW2
  3. Weekend in Rome (Possibly pushed to December but who knows.)
  4. FOW2’s trip to Canada to see chum
  5. FOW1 and Enamorata’s trip to Vegas

And that’s just us. I’m sure lots of people have much more than us going on. We went to church this morning ( i.e. our setee and YouTube) and the speaker was talking about James Chapter 4

Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.

Well, we are all walking, talking personification of this now. It would never have occurred to me that planning to go here or there would be such a big deal. If this wasn’t all so horrible, you might say this was a long-overdue wake-up call. Life is fragile. We say it a lot but we don’t really believe it – until we find a worrying lump or have a bump in the car that could have been so much worse. (Or the world is hit by a GINORMOUS VIRRULANT PANDEMIC THAT COULD KILL MILLIONS!)

We talked this morning about a lost year and the plans we may never fulfil. Then we were chatting about Syria (as you do) and saying that this insecurity about tomorrow is something that your average man on the street there has lived with for a long time (combined of course with the ravaged health service and hiding under the bed with your babies to hopefully escape the worst of the bombing).

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with making plans, looking forward to things and having ambition. But I am learning that I don’t have a right to anything. My life is not on a plate served up for me to take whatever I feel entitled to. (HUGE CLICHE ALERT) It is, however, a gift that I have done nothing to deserve. In my better moments, it makes me go all Michelle Obama and ask myself what I am going to do with it all – if I get the chance.

Times and Seasons and all that

What are you reading? It is with great regret that I am announcing my abandonment of Lila by Marilynne Robinson. I am a big fan of the precise and warm writing of Robinson. When I read Home – I was thinking about it for days. I got into a conversation on Twitter with people who weren’t that thrilled with her and I trilled on and on about the glory of this writer. And now I am giving up on her. I feel bad. Except I don’t really. It’s the time and the season I think.

I think even Robinson’s fans will tell you that not much really happens in her books. But I haven’t read, anyone who evokes the dirt poor, life on the edge existence of rural America as she does. She is not Lee Childs in a frock – nor would she want to be. And at the moment, I just can’t do it. In fact, because I have read Home, and I am reading them in the wrong order, I do know more or less how it ends. Without spoiling too much an old pastor falls in love with Lila but she has a past full of abuse and is – by her own admission – unreliable and ready to bolt. Will she break his heart? Will she make him cry? I currently don’t have the wherewithal to find out. If she hurts him I will do myself a damage. I am also sure that CS Lewis said that if you don’t like a book then it’s ok to abandon it and that is good enough for me.

I think I may be living with too much else at the moment. Worry, sorrow, being completely pooped. I’m not sure and I know that I am certainly not alone. I am shaking my head at the news and, just when you think the levels of incompetence can’t go any lower (higher?), you suddenly find that they can.

So I have abandoned what is a beautiful book for now and bought the Andrea Shulman book about Clothes. AND it’s a hardback. AND I paid almost full-price. AND I flipping love it. At one point last night I was reading a chapter which started with her listing everything that was in her handbag. I love that kind of thing. Obviously, she doesn’t just say – this is a bag, this is a cardi, this is a skirt. She talks about trends, and craftsmanship and what certain items mean to her. I am very nosey. She likes a bit of a gossip and I appreciate that and I am enjoying it very much. If you’re shallow and you know it clap your hands!

If I understood self-care and all that, I would probably say this was an example of it. But, I’m just doing something I like and don’t feel I need to impress myself. That’s all. Anyone else the same?

Also – re Devs. We finished it and I almost understood it all. All I want to ask is (trying not to be spoilery) at the end is Sergei now going to be involved in the same bag over the head carry on or will that not happen again? Don’t expect you to know really. Thought it was good though.

Aged Parent is still doing well. Partly because she has never considered herself an old person. So when she says “This disease is running amok among the elderly”. She never for a moment considers that this might include her, which is a good way to be at the moment I think. She is very keen though that I don’t think that she is too happy or settled.

Me What have you been doing this afternoon.

AP I’ve been in the garden, we had a laugh

Me That’s nice.

AP Well I didn’t laugh too much. Don’t get carried away.

Church

I put this photo on Facebook this morning before we settled down to watch a Sunday morning church. Like the religious maniacs we are – we tend to do a couple – one is our local church and the other is a pastor who used to be at our church and is (a) a really good speaker and (b) a top-notch bloke so we aren’t going to miss this opportunity to hear him speak while we can.

Church looks very different at the moment. And, whisper it, some of it is better. Obviously it’s not the same actually “being” there and talking and sharing and being able to show your displeasure at any dodgy theological points by folding your arms and coughing loudly. I think Admin must be a bit of a nightmare because – let’s face it – Zoom is not the same as a meeting with Church Council that finished with a nice cup of tea and Sheila’s scones. (This is an actual thing. If left to my own devices I could probably eat about seven before I started to feel a bit odd) We have used Zoom for work and everyone is so excited about actually getting it to work that we spend far too long on it because we are so thrilled at our technical know-how. Then, of course, no one wants to be the first to leave the meeting. What is the etiquette?

I did notice as well that despite being up an hour before it started and only having to walk ten feet to the telly, we still only just made it. What’s that about? BUT. Maybe, there are some serious things to think about. Some people have been saying that they have taken crafts and knitting to “new” church. And I have to ask why not? Is it just because we have never done it? Is that a good enough reason? A couple of years ago, we went to a groovy new local C of E for a few months. Aged Parent had decided that she would like to try it for a while and we decided to support her. (The desire to attend this church was more or less based on the fact that the vicar had said that he felt that God had told him that she was an encourager – like Barnabas. I feel it would not be encouraging for anyone for me to share what HOH muttered about the vicar working on his discernment gifts because something was definitely awry here) Anyway, when we arrived, we were steered to the bar to pick up coffee and pastries to eat during the meeting. It was very popular, especially with the local homeless community who quickly worked out that there was a decent Continental Breakfast to be had in exchange for a couple of handshakes on the door and a quick dance with a lady in a life-sized teddy bear costume who was there to welcome the children. Excellent.

I didn’t ever really partake, to be honest. Being brought up in a church where sucking an Extra Strong Mint (other mints are available) in the service might get you a reprimand for disrespecting the pulpit, coffee in the service just didn’t seem right to me. Any decent reason why not? No, not really. And there are plenty of people I have seen in meetings who could probably do with a shot of two of caffeine before we get the ball rolling. I’m saying nothing but if you are telling me that, after a particularly long week, you haven’t struggled with droopy eyelids sometimes then you are a better man than me.

I just wondered, how much do we do just because we have always done it? Believe me, I am the Queen of Tradition. I’m not sure that there has been a better hymn written since “O For A Thousand Tongues” and one of my fondest childhood memories is an early evening trip to church, seeing people walking to the meeting, carrying their bibles. This makes me a bit snippy when it comes to people not bringing bibles to church – even though loads will now have them on their phones and also, this snippiness does not apply to me when I am in a hurry. But, this is a once in a generation chance to ask ourselves, is it time to look at things differently. Apparently, the numbers of people searching for meetings online is huge. People are still searching, still wondering and although the message is the same as it ever was, do we need to meet people where they are first? How do we welcome people to “church”? I wouldn’t much want to miss whatever it is that’s happening here.

In the spirit of something different – you have probably seen this but it is so brilliant I am sharing it here. Sometimes, when church gets it right, it is really right. Not only is it musically special but note that it is a blessing. In these times – a blessing – on you and yours and me and mine.

What We’re Watching

Attention span waning at all? It is strange, isn’t it? All this extra time I was going to use. (Apologies for those working as normal or working full time from home – this kind of talk must be very annoying). I am working from home but can start very early in the morning so I do have extra time. Yet, I am finding reading in any great depth difficult and I certainly don’t seem to have the mental wherewithal for any kind of film that involves shielding my eyes or investing more than two hours of said precious extra time in one go. So, in the spirit of me “being good enough as I am” or any other self-help-quotes you would like to insert, this is what I have been watching and liking. Please note there will be no reference to “Normal People” – watched half an hour – blimey, they seem to make each other miserable or Tiger King – I am a crotchety old woman but I found it cruel – both to big cats and young men with their teeth missing who would do anything (literally anything) for a square meal. We did watch quite a few episodes but didn’t feel good about ourselves after. Also – no Killing Eve – if you have to ask why, you are probably new here.

So, if you have been living on the Planet Zog, you may not know that the photo above is The Child or Baby Yoda from Star Wars “The Mandelorian.” It’s very good, it’s in little half-hour chunks and I don’t think you need to know a lot about Star Wars to like it. Although to my shame, I do know quite a lot about Star Wars and there are lots of little extra joys to be had when you recognise the references. Unfortunately, it’s only on Disney+ which costs money. I would like to say though, that despite there bring no children or adolescents locking down with us, the amount of Disney cartoons that have been watched in here since we signed up have meant it has been value for money and then some. (Not bothered)

Ignoring everything I just said about simple entertainment being the order of the day – may I present DEVS on the BBC. I suppose you want me to explain whats going on, don’t you? Well, I don’t really have the slightest idea. It’s Science Fiction so I don’t think you always have to know. I had to watch Blade Runner three times before I began to get any sort of inkling. AND read the original paperback and that didn’t help at all. But I couldn’t stop watching this. Basically a girl is trying to find out what happened to her boyfriend after he went missing after starting work for a mysterious tech company. All sorts of nonsense is afoot and there are a few disturbing bits and pieces but it’s like a Lee Child novel – it doesn’t let you stop turning the pages.

Lastly – Dinnerladies. It’s new to Netflix but you can probably find it somewhere. We have it on DVD because we are old. On April 20th it was four years since Victoria Wood’s death. Remember when we thought 2016 was the worst year in world history? Anyway, in these confusing times, I cannot express in any eloquent way how much comfort I have taken from Dinnerladies. It doesn’t matter how many times we watch them – and I can never watch just one, we still laugh like drains at scripts that are actual bone-fide genius. This is the best sitcom ever made and I will fight you about it. With slapping if necessary. It’s up to you.

Gentler

Hello. Hope you are well. Weird isn’t it? Am I the only person who wakes up in the morning and it takes a few seconds before you remember what is happening? Anyway, apparently this is the new normal – at least until the next new normal turns up so we carry on.

This is our park – well I say “our” – obviously, it doesn’t belong to us – heaven forbid. It will need its own UN Peacekeeping force soon. This afternoon three young people came and sat down in the middle of the park – after laying a tartan blanket on the ground. They then opened up their Tupperware boxes and proceeded to enjoy lunch. (I didn’t take a photo in case they think I am working undercover for the Rozzers) It’s all very tense then as we are expecting dog walkers to come in and tell them to clear off. Fortunately, they manage to finish their picnic without incurring the wrath of Plymouth’s Covid 19 STAY AT HOME squad. It is difficult, isn’t it? Of course, they shouldn’t be out but, three young people who look as if they are in the same family (along with a small pug) who just had half an hour’s peace under the trees; I do understand.

Meanwhile, Aged Parent is doing quite well. She spends most afternoons socially distanced in the garden at the care home and now her telly is working she is happy watching Loose Women and lots of news. I have never seen Loose Women. That is not any kind of judgement, it’s just, who has the time? Because AP is now abreast of the news, she is feeling the itch to get going. Last week she informed me that her friend in Number 40 (15 years younger and no underlying health issues as far as we can make out) goes and sits in the entrance to the complex and talks to her friend through the glass door. This translates into “Why aren’t you pulling up a couple of dining chairs to the glass front doors for me?” I explain that the management of the home are not very happy with this arrangement and would rather people didn’t. At the moment, they have the place locked down and watertight with us only delivering extra food and drugs a couple of times a week and that’s the way they would like it to stay. Even while I am explaining this to her I am completely aware that she is raising a cynical eyebrow of disbelief. Also, HOH who has been a dream helping me with her, considering that what he does for a day job involves full PPE, a visor and arguing about where the last protective gloves are, has put his foot down and said that he is not driving across Plymouth to stand outside a door while “your mother complains through it about everything and everybody and insists the whole thing is overblown.” He has a point.

FOW 1 and his inamorata have rearranged their wedding for the beginning of August. It will be a much smaller affair but hopefully, it can all go ahead. I have tentatively suggested that, in years to come, they will look back on this and say “WE got married in the lock-down” and we will all look at the photos and smile fondly. A bit like in the war when people got married in gas masks. (The difference being that, as far as I know, in the war, there wasn’t the same problems actually obtaining the masks). At the moment, people are not taking me up on my cheerful take on it but they may well come round. (Or not). We watched a very nice Christian wedding online yesterday. I didn’t know the couple very well but it was genuinely lovely. All the guests were on Zoom and it was all very jolly. Of course, Christian young couples are more reluctant to cancel their weddings (I will leave you to work out why. HOH has banned me from spelling it out).

It was FOW2’s birthday last week. It’s not the same when you can’t see them face to face but Social Media is a genuine Godsend (there’s a sentence I thought I would never write) and you can sort of see people. We are watching sermons on Sunday mornings which is good. I know myself and I am better about life when I have heard a good preach. I have to be careful not to take up residence on the phone – there’s so much to see and read and if I read it all, I would get brain freeze.

I am beginning to be a bit gentler on myself and other people. I ranted a bit online to a blog friend the other day who gently agreed with every word I said and then typed out everything she thanked God for in my life and there was a lot. I’m still very unhappy about how some things have been handled and I certainly do feel that if some of the people who say that journalists are “missing the mood of the country” were a bit nearer the pointy end of things, they may feel a bit differently. I have no problem with journalists asking difficult questions. It’s their job and I suspect that in times to come, people will say that this country handled the outbreak badly. Sometimes the “we’re all in it together” is unhelpful. This week a lady who didn’t clap the NHS on Thursday was named and shamed on Facebook. (She was busy trying to get her baby to sleep – although why she should have to give a reason is beyond me). We need to be gentler I think and be thoughtful contributors to what must be a national debate.

I am finding it helpful to timetable my days as well. Although because, in reality, I am still working even though it’s from home, it is good to write down what you would like to do each day. I have started leaving off my list “lose a stone, learn French, clean the house with Bicarb and develop a six-pack.” This has also helped with my relaxation and acceptance of – well life really. I am feeling more able to deal with it all as I have reduced my expectations of myself. Although I have to be totally honest, I still would like to drop that stone.