I had to block someone on Instagram this week. Well, I didn’t have to, but I wanted to. Usually when I block someone it’s a stupid man sending me inappropriate messages, or it’s someone trying to sell me something (I don’t even know what a bitcoin is, but I’m pretty sure I don’t want one). This time, however, it was someone I’ve known on there for a very long time. She’s not part of my inner circle but was close enough. This person – let’s call her Karen because everyone else will – always did have an astringent side to her. Every now and then, she’d bitch slap me on one of my own posts, take a jokey meme way too seriously and get stroppy about it, or lecture me about my life choices. I’ve always let it ride up until now. But not this time.
I don’t know what your feelings are about this Corona thing, but I think we can all agree it’s not a good situation. So, when she stated on my post that it’s a big fuss over nothing, and we shouldn’t all be under house arrest, I was annoyed. Then she went on to state that her immune system was strong and healthy, she didn’t know anyone who’d even had it, let along died from it, so it was all a load of nonsense as far as she was concerned – and she’d done her research, so she should know. It’s no worse than the flu, she claimed.
When I pointed out that over 40,000 deaths in the UK alone was a bit more than just the flu, she retorted with the remark that all those who’d died had underlying health issues so were clearly going to die anyway.
First of all, shut up. Anyone who states on social media that they know more than the world’s medical and scientific experts needs to be prepared to show qualifications in those fields before I will pay them any attention.
Secondly, could you be any more callous if you tried? Those people would have died anyway?! I beg to differ, and I expect their families and friends would be shocked to the core to be told that it didn’t matter their loved one had died of Corona, because X, Y or Z would have killed them anyway. Her statement was also inaccurate because thousands of those poor souls who have died did not have any underlying health conditions, and even if they did, that doesn’t mean they were expendable.
Thirdly, that “I’m alright Jack, sod anybody else” attitude really offends me. Okay, so maybe you are fit and strong and healthy, maybe you do think it’s wrong to be in isolation. That’s your opinion, and we are all entitled to them. Maybe you do decide to take your family down the road to see Auntie Madge. Fine, that’s your decision, and it isn’t really endangering anyone else except you, your family, and Auntie Madge. And maybe you and your friends do decide to congregate in your garden and have a barbecue, because it’s a lovely sunny day and why should you be forced to give up your social life for a bunch of weak people who are probably going to die anyway – herd immunity, that’s what it’s all about. Again, that isn’t really endangering people outside your social circle.
But when you decide to crowd into shops and outdoor spaces, refuse to stay away from others who are obeying the rules and social distancing, and think it’s fun to scare people by coughing in their faces, then that’s no longer you being a dick and making a choice to endanger just yourself and your family – that is you taking away other peoples right to make a choice to stay safe.
Sure, you may not give a hoot about your own well-being, but you should still respect that other people are very scared about the whole situation. That although people may look healthy on the outside, you have no idea what their medical condition is. Maybe, and I know this might be a strange concept for you to grasp, they don’t want to be the one to carry this virus home to a loved one who is vulnerable to it and be the reason why they die. Because whether the effects of this virus are just like a bad dose of flu to the vast majority who catch it, one thing everyone is agreed on is the sheer contagiousness of this virus. And that is why we are in isolation and social distancing. Not because we will probably die if we catch it, but because we will almost certainly become a carrier and pass it on down the line to others who are not so fit and healthy – and whatever Karen might have to say about the matter, no one deserves to die before their time simply because someone else couldn’t be bothered to keep their distance and thought it didn’t matter.
So, that’s why I blocked her. She is gone from my life forever – if only it had been that easy in school – and I don’t have to put up with her tactless comments anymore.
Anyway, rant over, but I’m sure you have come across the same and not just on social media. Here in the UK we are still in the grip of it, the daily death rate is in its hundreds, and it’s too soon to be planning big parties. That was another thing Karen lectured me on, not supporting local businesses because I happened to mention that I’m not getting takeaways whilst this virus is still so virulent. Apparently, not being willing to risk my health and that of my family, for a Starbucks coffee or a McDonald’s makes me a terrible person. I never bought those things anyway, so why I would suddenly want to now is a mystery. Again, if someone wants to get takeaways that is their choice, but I’ve had many friends who’ve worked in the catering industry over the years, and I’ve heard enough horror stories about what goes on in restaurant kitchens to put me off eating out and getting takeaways at the best of times, let alone when a virulent global pandemic is raging.
Okay, the rant really is over now.
So, what has everyone been up to in the two weeks since I last blogged – and I would like to apologise for being Missing in Action last week. The truth was I simply had nothing to say about anything – I know! Imagine that! – and furthermore was becoming very stressed about it. All last Saturday morning, I fretted and worried because time was ticking on and I still hadn’t written a word. Then it suddenly struck me that the world wouldn’t end just because I missed a week. That the six people who read my blog (hello there) would forgive me.
Again, the week has flown by and every day has been busy, although I know I go at a much more relaxed pace now, and I think it’s doing me good. I’m sleeping better and for longer. I’m calmer and happier. I don’t think I had fully appreciated how much my non-stop life was exhausting me, and that trying to cram too much into too few hours was taking its toll. This unique opportunity to slow down, relax, and even come to a complete stand-still now and then, has done me good. To be honest, I am going to find it hard to go back to how things were, and know I need to explore ways to take the stress out of my life and try to carry some of this present calmness into the future. To not allow myself simply to be sucked back into the madness so all these weeks will have been for nothing.
I don’t think I’m alone in feeling this way either.
Last Sunday I did a major shop, and I mean major. Up until now, I’ve been dashing to the local shop on foot once a week and foraging for what I could get. Just before going into lockdown I had done two large shops and stocked up with food and other essential items, but those had all gone. I needed to do another big shop, so took the car to Waitrose first thing Sunday morning before it had even opened. Usually, by going to the store at this time on a Sunday, I’m practically the first one there and have the shop almost to myself. But this time the queue was already stretched around the carpark, with people clutching the handles of large trolleys with the anticipation of battle in their eyes.
When I finally got in it was the most crowded the shop has ever been, which made me a little tense. With a two-sided A4 list instead of a few items scribbled onto the back of an envelope, this shopping experience was very different from what I had become accustomed to, and it was with relief that I started loading my purchases onto the till. The lady on the till was very helpful, giving me time to pack my bags one end, before rolling more stuff towards me.
I happened to mention how busy they were, and she rolled her eyes at me. She didn’t know why, she said, but the last three days had been manic. Double the normal amounts of customers, and most seemed to be doing really big shops, like mine. Not what they had become used to over the weeks since lockdown commenced.
I wondered why this might be. It could be because everyone did a month’s shop before the commencement of lockdown and so their supplies were running low, as mine were. Or perhaps they had the same gut feeling that they needed to stock up ready. Ready for what, I’m not sure. But we are well supplied now and have no need to go shopping again for quite some time.
In other news, the weather here has been gorgeous this week, so I finally started painting the garden fences. This is a job that has been outstanding for years, but because it’s such a massive task I have done my usual procrastination and put it off. To be fair though, when I’m working it’s absolutely the last thing that I want to do on my days off. But now I have no more excuses.
Thursday dawned nice and sunny, so I put on my painting clothes and opened the paint. Now, my garden has the colour theme of blue and cream and the fences down the right-hand side have already had a coat of blue paint, as has my tiny shed, the pergola, and the gate. But the fence down the left-hand side hasn’t been painted at all. Then I have quite a few trellis panels dotted around, and they have all been painted cream, Although, my garden is only small, there are a lot of fences. From the back door down the left-hand side of the garden to the boundary at the bottom, it’s about a 30’ stretch, and the right-hand fence is about 18’. That’s a lot of fence to be painted. Much of it is difficult to get to as well, involving squeezing behind plants and a cherry tree, dismantling a water feature, and moving two coal bunkers and a log store. You can see why I’ve been putting it off.
Now, the paint I bought when I painted the shed, pergola etc was a colour called Boathouse Blue from the company Wilks. However, when I went to buy some more in early March that colour had been discontinued and replaced with a colour called Beach Hut Blue, which looked exactly the same. At least according to the little round colour spot on the tin it did.
I did a little googling, and it turned out that another company also did a fence and shed paint called Boathouse Blue, and I wondered if Wilks had been forced to change the name of theirs because the other company had it first.
I bought two large tins, after all – Boathouse/Beach Hut – how different a blue could they be? The answer, very different. I opened the tin. Far from the lovely bluebell blue I was expecting it was a sickly, creamy colour with a bluish tinge. Hmm. I thought, stirring it vigorously. Not quite what I was expecting, but I was sure it would be fine. So, I took it down to the bottom of the garden and made a start. One fence panel in and I was not sure about it AT ALL. It went on like an undercoat of paint and dried up like dirty dishwater.
By the time I stopped on Thursday I was still very unsure. But I’d started and had two large tins of the stuff, which of course I no longer had the receipt for, so I had no choice but to plough on. Never mind, I thought, I’ll do a coat and see how it dries up. If I still hate it, then I’ll simply buy a different colour and do the second coat in that.
By Friday morning however, the paint had had overnight to dry and was beginning to look better. It’s still not as vivid as the Boathouse Blue colour I was expecting, instead it’s a silvery greyish blue, but I think it might actually work better on the fence it’s going on. The left-hand side of my garden never gets any sun and after years of trying to make conventional plants grow there, I eventually had to give up and do my research about what plants thrived in shade. So, I now have a small Morello cherry tree which always provides a good 50lbs of cherries every summer. There are numerous different fuchsias and ferns, plus hellebores, Solomon Seal, and hardy geraniums. Basically, it’s a shady woodland garden and I think this lighter blue with its slightly pearlescent finish will work very well to brighten up a rather gloomy side of the garden. I have even bought a 49’ string of solar powered twinkling star-shaped lights to drape all along the fence and up into the tree. They come with eight different mood settings, including one called fireflies, which sounds very exciting.
I have a small water-feature in my garden which is as charming as it’s tiny. It creates a lovely sound but because it is so small the water tends to disappear quite quickly and it’s important to remember to turn it off when not in the garden. However, a couple of years ago I forgot, and when I next went out into the garden it was to find that I’d burnt the pump out. I’ve been meaning to buy a new one, so over the next week I will pull the old one out and buy a new one online.
The ivy has also been rampaging all over it completely unchecked, so I’ve pulled all the ivy off and laid it down on the ground. I need to get behind the feature to paint the fence, so I might as well tidy up all the old leaves and mulch that have accumulated, clean and repaint the piece of trellis from behind the feature which is what the ivy was supposed to be growing up. When all the painting has been done I will reattach the trellis to the fence, trail the ivy back up it, thread my twinkling firefly lights all through it and get the newly cleaned and restored water feature in working order again.
As many of you know, one of my most popular books is called The Forest ~ a tale of old magic ~ and its cover is a stunning, atmospheric picture of the Green Man of legend. Well, I have always wanted a Green Man of my own, so this morning I ordered myself a wonderful one which I will hang from the trellis above the water feature. I mean to half hide it in the ivy so he will peer out at you.
These past two months have made me appreciate my garden, and maybe fall in love with it all over again. It is small, but it’s a really sweet, peaceful and safe haven. It’s my garden, so I can do with it what I please. If I want to have blue fences, I can. Cream trellis work, why not? Twinkling star lights everywhere, bring it on. I love quirky and odd little curios in my garden. People’s gardens are so personal to the kind of person they are. If they have plants all lined up like a battalion of soldiers, each the exact same distance from the next, then that says quite a lot about what that person wants from life. Order. But if someone’s garden is a little tangled, a touch overgrown with plants rambling where they will, then that person welcomes a little chaos and natural disorder in their world.
In other news, my poor cat has a nasty place on the bottom of her back which she will not leave alone. I think she’s been in a fight or rather, judging by where the wound is, has run away from a fight. She’s licked and licked and licked herself bald in that spot, and it’s very unpleasant to look at. I left it for a bit, hoping it would heal by itself, but it doesn’t seem to be going away, so Friday morning I telephone the vet to find out what the protocol was.
I felt it couldn’t be considered an emergency, and the vet agreed. Instead we took pictures of the wound which the vet examined and agreed it was mildly infected and the important thing was to stop her licking it and give it a chance to heal. Saturday morning, I drove to the vets and parked in the carpark. I then had to telephone a special number to let them know I was there. A moment later the door opened, a hand came through the gap and a bottle was placed on the ground. The door then firmly shut, and I was able to retrieve the bottle.
Regular, long term readers of my blog will know dodgy dealings in carparks is a bit of a thing with me!
And now it’s Saturday evening, whilst writing this I’ve been cooking one of my favourite meals of chicken in a creamy tarragon sauce with crunchy roasted new potatoes and carrots. The sauce contains about 2oz of white wine, so that means a whole bottle has been opened. Hmm. Wonder what I can do with the rest. You have to look for the small pleasures in life.
Stay safe and stay healthy everyone, and hopefully, I will be back next week and maybe I’ll even remember to take some photos of the garden,