Here We Go Again!

I want to say thank you to all the people who contacted me or commented on my post, after last week’s blog – in which I ranted at the Government and the situation in schools during this second lockdown. It was gratifying to realise that every single one of you feels the same way. That you are as disgusted as I am at the greedy, self-serving actions of our politicians – who would quite happily let families starve while taking a hefty sum each day out of taxpayers money to buy food for themselves.

Worried about my daughter, I contacted her college and spoke to the head of pastoral care there. I am relieved to report that they shared my concerns, and because Miss F has proven to be such a diligent and hardworking student – one who is more than capable of home-schooling herself to a very satisfactory level – they have agreed that she can self-isolate for a month with me.

One major problem with keeping all the schools and colleges open – well, apart from the obvious one of the students and teachers spreading the virus far and wide – is the fact that they have closed all the canteens and gathering places where the students used to go to eat their lunch. Sometimes, the lunch break between morning and afternoon classes can be incredibly long – up to four hours on some days, and the students now have nowhere to go.

You used to see and hear great hordes of them walking up town, but now, of course, with all the fast-food restaurants and coffee shops closed, they have nowhere to buy lunch, or eat one brought in from home. So, they hang about the town centre in great groups. If it were summer, this wouldn’t be too bad. There are parks and benches where they could sit and eat. But we’re coming into winter now, it’s getting colder, and the likelihood of rain is growing.

Where are they supposed to go for four hours on a freezing cold and wet day? Not all students live within easy walking distance of their places of education. Some have to take long bus journeys to get to and from their homes, so it’s simply not possible for them to go home for lunch. No one seems to have thought about this, or, if they have, no one seems to care.

It is a strange lockdown. Very different from the first one when there was very much the sense that we were all in this together, and people mostly obeyed the rules. This time, what with all places of education remaining open, and many companies not having to close, it does not feel like a lockdown at all.

My store has closed, but I am still being expected to go into work on Sunday to fulfil my contracted hours for the week. Quite what I will be expected to do in a shut and empty shop that has already been cleaned from top to bottom, I have no idea. I shall take my kindle with several books already downloaded, just in case there is literally nothing else for me to do.

I think I will only be expected to go in for this week. Furlough pay doesn’t begin until Monday, and I shouldn’t imagine my company will be able to claim furlough, at the same time as forcing employees to break lockdown laws and congregate in a shut shop – but who knows. I have been given no further information, and I am hoping more will be forthcoming when I go into work.

Our new lodger has been living here for just over a week now, and so far, it’s working well. He is actually nineteen, not the seventeen I believed him to be, and seems to be a responsible and respectful young man. Our cat loves him, so that’s always a good sign. He has fitted in well. He cooks decent meals for himself and is very tidy about the house.

There was the slight concern about him still going to college, but I appreciate he doesn’t know many people there, so is not one of those hordes of students hanging about in great groups. He goes to his lessons, and because he now lives so close to the college, is able to come home for his breaks. He has assured me that he is taking all precautions at college, and the moment he gets home he immediately goes to change his clothing and wash his hands. Obviously, I do not do his washing, nor do I have any occasion to enter his room. We do not get that close to him, so I think the risk of any contamination is minimal.

It has been a strange week. I worked as normal on Monday and Tuesday. They were two very busy days, as customers previously undecided about whether to go ahead with placing their orders, all rushed to do so before lockdown. On my way home Tuesday evening, I collected a month’s worth of shopping from the supermarket and once again, my home feels as if it is prepared for a siege. With bags of groceries and supplies tucked away in every cupboard and under beds, we won’t have to leave the house for a good month.

Wednesday, I dashed to the local store for a few things that I had missed off the list, and entered into a scene of last minute, panic buying. Customers with trolleys crammed to capacity with supplies struggled around the aisles. Queues at the checkouts were huge, and I was thankful I only had a small basketful so could go through the ten items or less till.

There was a definite air of stress, and from the little I overheard, it’s clear that people are preparing for a longer lockdown than the month-long one the Government have promised. I even saw people buying Christmas provisions – just in case!

I don’t know what will happen. My personal feeling is this light lockdown won’t work. That the infection still has too many ways available for it to spread. Through schools, colleges, and universities. Through the many companies that are still open, and from the crowds of people still out on the streets and congregating in each other’s homes.

But we shall see. All each individual can do is protect themselves, their families, and their community as best they can.

For the past four days, it has been a relief to be able to immerse myself in the world of The Five Kingdoms that I have created. My Snow White retelling – “Black Ice” – is shaping up to be a big, beautiful, chunk of a book, and at over 460 pages will be one of the longest I’ve ever published.

I am busy working my way through the feedback of my proof-reader, who so very kindly volunteered over a week of her time to check it for typos and punctuation errors. I am over halfway through her amendments, and I’m stunned at how meticulous she has been. All of her suggestions will help to make this book so much better.

The illustrations have all been inserted, and they have been set firmly in place by the wonderful Becky Wright over at Platform House Publishing. This is essential so that when I am editing, the images stay put and don’t move around as I add or subtract text.

The video is being made, and I’m very excited to announce that the cover has been made for me by Becky’s very clever husband, James Wright. As a reward to my faithful blog readers, you are getting an exclusive first look at the beautiful cover they have made for me, I think you will agree that it is spectacular. It contains all the elements of the tale – the ice which will play a key role, the cogs and pipes that reflect the steampunk genre it is set in, the mirror which is crucial to the plot, and, of course, the famous red apple – without which no Snow White story would be complete.

I hope you like it. I absolutely love it, and I can’t wait to see the video that James is now making to accompany the launch of “Black Ice” later this month.

It is a short blog this week. Although there are currently momentous events occurring all around the world, my life has once again narrowed to my home and what occurs within its four walls. That sense of pulling up the drawbridge and battening down the hatches that gripped me in March, is once again prevalent. I am thankful for my home – which shelters us from the oncoming storm – and for my writing – which keeps me sane.

Wherever you are, and whatever is happening in your life – stay safe and stay well.

Julia Blake

3 thoughts on “Here We Go Again!

  1. Finished breakfast ( late) and just read your current blog with my cup of coffee at my side. I’m relieved that the university has granted your daughter the ability to stay at home. And I’m glad your lodger is being careful, seems responsible and is respectful. I was worried about him still going to campus in your last blog. So much contradiction and confusion with the lockdown. But you seem prepared and of the best frame of mind.

    The cover is fantastic! Strong and beautiful with all the right symbols. I’m so excited fir this book! It’s a big one.

    Enjoy the rest of your Sunday. Hopefully things will begin to calm down here. ❤️


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