Well, there is no getting away from it. Both the big C’s are looming over our heads. By that I mean, of course, Christmas and Corona. It is the last weekend before Christmas and I am avoiding town and the shops like the plague, because … well, because of the plague.
The government have told us that between the 23rd and 27th of December we can basically do as we please – anyone else feel the way you did when you were a child? When your mother would throw her hands up in despair after telling you a trillion times that it’s too dangerous to even think about doing the something stupid you were hellbent on doing. “Go right ahead,” mine would eventually say. “Go right ahead and do it and see what happens. Then you’ll be sorry and wish you’d listened to me.”
I am getting that exact same feeling now, like the government have basically washed their hands of us. “Go right ahead,” they’re saying. “We’ve told you and told you to stay home, wear your masks, keep your distance, and wash your f*****g hands! But you’re all hellbent on having a “normal” Christmas so you just go right ahead and do it. See what happens. Then you’ll be sorry.”
And you must have the IQ of a gnat not to realise exactly what is going to happen. The R rate is already rising sharply. Deaths are on the increase, and that’s even before the madness of Christmas, when too many mince pies and mulled wine will befuddle people’s brains and they will mix, mingle, travel, touch, hug and kiss with no thought for the future. The expression – Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die – has never rung so true.
I anticipate another national lockdown in January or by February at the latest. It is known that the virus spreads best within the home environment – it’s a bit like me, it likes things warm and cosy. And because sadly, Christmas is slap bang in the middle of winter, no one is going to follow the government’s advice to meet outdoors and open lots of windows. Are you joking? It’s freezing cold, blowing a gale, and pouring with rain – everyone will be crammed into overheated houses, all snug in their Christmas jumpers, quaffing eggnog and kissing grandparents they haven’t seen since March.
I truly believe the government have washed their hands of us. Because they weren’t strict enough “parents” to exercise some tough love back in March and brutally enforce the lockdown. Because stern punishments were not given to those flouting the lockdown laws. Because people were allowed out whenever they wanted with no adequate policing of the streets, the first lockdown was ineffective at halting the virus in its tracks.
And I’ve heard the argument that the police simply couldn’t cope with the extra work, and I understand that, but what about the army? What about the military police from other forces? We’re not at war with anyone right now, so what the heck were they doing all through lockdown? And what about the Territorial Army? All those people who work normal jobs during the day, then at weekends dress up like soldiers and rush about the countryside pretending to be Rambo? I thought the whole point of the TA was that they were there to be called upon in times of national emergency. Yet, they were all cowering in lockdown with the rest of us.
I’m sorry, but if a global pandemic that’s ravaging the globe and killing millions doesn’t count as a national emergency, then I shudder to think what the government are keeping the TA in readiness for. Zombie apocalypse perhaps?
I’m just a simple, normal person sitting at home, and perhaps I am being a bit of a “Karen” about this, but I can see so many ways this could have been handled better. It could have been handled the way New Zealand and Melbourne in Australia handled it. Close all borders to everyone. Brutally strict lockdown laws that were strenuously enforced. Close monitoring of numbers. And no release of lockdown until there was a long-term infection rate of 0 per day. Britain – look and learn, that’s how you do it. That is true “parenting”. Sometimes you have to enforce rules that the kids don’t like, rules that make them hate you. But, at the end of the day, it’s not a parent’s job to make their kids like them, it’s their job to keep them safe – no matter what.
Anyway, rant over, and what was the point of it anyway – all the sensible people out there will already be planning safe, socially distanced, virtual Christmases, and you don’t need me to tell you it’s the right thing to do. As for the rest of you – well, you go right ahead and drive miles into infected areas just so you can hug granny and eat a dinner with her, but please, don’t then whinge and moan when infection rates soar, your arse is back in lockdown, and granny is on an incubator, because as my mother used to say when I’d gone ahead and done the stupid thing anyway and was crying over the consequences – “you were told what would happen, but you did it anyway, and now see what’s happened!”
Are you ready for Christmas? Not that it’s a particularly big one for us this year, just me and Miss F, and she’s working Christmas Day and I’m back to work on Boxing Day. But we have a Christmas fridge and freezer right now, a few decorations up, and big piles of mysterious looking presents for each other heaped in our respective bedrooms. I think I’ve overspent on her, and I know she’s overspent on me – see last week’s blog! – but I’m not spending money on anyone else really, and it has been a tough year for her. She’s coped really well, and I’m proud of how hard she has worked, so I feel totally justified in spoiling her.
We will do all our presents on Christmas Eve in the morning, hopefully via Skype or Zoom with my parents – so long as my mother hasn’t managed to somehow uninstall them – and then we have an enormous Christmas lunch planned which our lodger will be joining us for. Poor lad is staying here this Christmas as he’s afraid if he goes back to France he may not be allowed back into the country. It’s also a long way to go just for a couple of days. So, he will be sitting down at our Christmas table with us, and then we have a day of games and films planned. So, it should be a nice relaxing and fun day. One of Miss F’s favourite desserts is treacle tart, but she can’t have it now because of the butter in the pastry, so I’m going to have a go at making a lactose free version for her to have with the fantastic vegan Ben & Jerry’s ice cream we have.
Miss F is working on Christmas Day between midday and 5pm. I’ve been asked what I will do during that time. Well, there will be lots of lamb leftovers from the day before, so I will make a whole batch of Cornish pasties to go in the freezer ready for when I’m working long hours of overtime during January. I have books I would like to read – and you never know, I may even write my Christmas blog! In the evening on Christmas Day, I have two beautiful steaks in the fridge which we will have with all the trimmings as our special treat.
Then, of course, I’m back to work on Boxing Day. My company seem to think we’re going to be mega busy, but I’m not so sure. People only have five days truce over Christmas when they can travel to see family and friends and mix and mingle at will. Are they really going to waste those days going shopping? Also, most of the other shops on our retail park will be shut on Boxing Day this year, so many people won’t bother coming out until all of the shops are open. But we’ll see. Reading between the lines, I think my company believes we’re all going to be back in lockdown soon, so maybe that is why they are so desperate to stay open for as long as possible.
The restaurant where Miss F works part-time is closing again on the 28th and all the staff will be going back onto furlough. It simply isn’t viable for them to stay open with the reduced number of customers they are allowed to have. There has been no announcement as to how long it will remain shut, but probably quite a long time to allow the virus to either abate, or for the vaccine to be administered.
The college have not contacted me about Miss F returning to classes and, as it is now closed for Christmas, I suppose I won’t hear from them until next year. If possible, I would like her to continue to study at home. She is a hardworking and very self-disciplined person, and she is so much happier in an environment where she feels safe. But no one seems too sure exactly what is happening with schools and other places of education next year. The government tried keeping them all open, and infection and death rates shot up off the charts. All Welsh schools are now going to be online for the duration of the virus, so will the UK follow suit? Again, no one seems to know.
This week I finally bowed to pressure and put some decorations up. Nowhere near as many as usual – instead of it taking me two days to decorate, it only took a couple of hours – but our mantlepieces are looking very festive. We didn’t bother with a tree this year, instead I dug out a tiny tabletop tree that we’ve had for years and usually stands in Miss F’s room. I had a tiny string of battery-operated red holly berry lights and wound a thin piece of tinsel around it and put on a few of our smallest baubles, and that was it.
Usually, our tree is an eight-foot blue spruce or a Norwegian fir, costing £60, which takes a whole day to select, lug home, get up and decorate, and involves dismantling my writing desk and storing it in my bedroom over Christmas. This tiny tree took barely fifteen minutes to sort and is standing on the corner of my desk making it look very festive. Who knows? I may never go back to the bother of a giant real tree again.
It does feel strange, to be this close to Christmas and be this stress free. I have three more gifts to drop off on people’s doorsteps before Christmas, and one small trip to Waitrose to get some fresh veg, the stuffing, and any other last-minute bits and bobs we can think of. Our lodger received a surprising Christmas present from his parents this week of a hamper filled with about a dozen lengths of continental sausage and pot after pot of pate. He has begged us to have whatever we want from it – so for tea on Christmas Eve I will get some crusty French bread, olives, a dip of some kind that Miss F can eat, and we will have a nibbles board. After such a big lunch it will be all I think we will want!
I’m looking forward to it. I only have four days off – well, I say they are days off, but the truth is I normally work three days a week and next week I am working Monday, Saturday, and Sunday, so I am still working three days. Technically, I have no time off at all other than my normal, non-shift days, but those four days off are very much looked forward to.
Four days of just relaxing, eating, drinking, present opening, game playing and film watching. I do have to run Miss F to and from work on Christmas Day, but hopefully, the roads will be empty so it’s a 40-minute round trip each way.
I really can’t wait for her to open her presents. I can’t say too much because she sometimes reads my blog, but I am quietly confident I have got it right this year. There are some beautiful, thoughtful things, some useful things, and a whole bunch of downright silly things – which hopefully she will see the funny side of.
Right, it’s getting late on Saturday afternoon and I still need to post this and schedule it ready for the morning, plus I have a heap of other things to do before returning to work tomorrow. By the next time I chat with you Christmas will be over for another year, so please have a happy, peaceful, and most of all, safe, festive season.
Best Wishes and Love