Pad Life: Fluffy Bunnies
I have just found my most favourite ever ‘promoted link’ on a website. You know, the ones that say ‘Sixteen celebrities you never knew were from Mars – try not to gasp when you see No. 16’ or ‘Boris Johnson is so skinny now and looks absolutely gorgeous.’ This one was under a Guardian article on facial expressions in mice (who knew mice look pissed off when they get an electric shock up their bums?) and said: Revealed: What Vikings Were Actually Like. The Photos Are Chilling.
No, it wasn’t April 1st. The site in question was called, rather tellingly, ‘Past Factory’. I haven’t clicked on it because it will probably steal my bank details and plant a totally different kind of virus on my computer, but the temptation to view chilling photos of real live Vikings is almost irresistible. I wonder if Erik Bloodaxe is so skinny now and looks absolutely gorgeous. I’ll try not to gasp.
And thus isolation goes on. I’ve had the proverbial mild symptoms, so am stuck in the Pad for a few more days, venturing no further than the communal bins when no-one else is around. I wear plastic gloves each time, so I don’t leave something nasty on the bin lid, although I salute any virus that can hold its own against whatever’s living on our bins. The Scion and the Princess videocall me every day, to make sure I’m still ticking. Both are economic victims of the pandemic. The Princess had just bagged a rather decent new job that has now vanished, leaving her with no job at all, while the Scion, as a jobbing musician, is well and truly stuffed. The Princess seems to have had the virus, and got better, and the Scion and Girlfriend may have had it so mildly they didn’t notice until they read about the symptoms. As none of us is likely to see a test this side of the next millennium, we will probably never really know but, honestly, we’re just thankful to be well. I know people with relatives who are very definitely not, and I’m counting my own blessings.
I’ve therefore decided I’m going to be mellow and optimistic and very fluffy bunny for the duration of quarantine. This is not my natural state, so I set myself little challenges, to build up the fluffy bunny muscles. I have to sit through the daily Downing Street briefing and not say ‘Fuck off’ until a set number of minutes have elapsed. I started off with three, and I’m now at seven, so it’s working. For a slightly harder challenge, I have to do the same with the Guardian Live Blog on Trump’s briefings, but I’ve only managed the equivalent of a minute and a half there. Still, I started off with thirty seconds so, again, not bad.
When I saw,again on the Guardian website, that two highly paid journalists had separately written columns saying pretty much what I said in my last Pad Life spiel (‘I feel sorry for burglars’ and ‘Crime went up by 57% during the war’) I didn’t bang my head on the table and wonder where my life went wrong. I thought how privileged I am that I share inspiration with two notable practitioners of the craft, and wondered what monikers they’re using on ABC Tales. Although, if there’s something about photogenic Vikings this Saturday, I may revise my approach.
I am sanguine about the young persons in the flat above who, obviously missing the pub on a Saturday night, have taken up communal singing. It starts around ten-ish, when presumably a few libations have been had, and, bless them, ends exactly at midnight. The first week it was your usual standards – a few choruses of ‘Angels’ and ‘Build Me Up Buttercup’. I was astonished when the Princess first informed me, some time ago now, that ‘Build Me Up Buttercup’, a biggish hit for The Foundations in 1967, is a great favourite among the carousing young.
‘It’s catchy, isn’t it? It’s fun. You can sing along. It just is.’
And, to my horror, I discovered that I remembered all the words.
Upstairs now seem to have acquired a subscription to the new Disney Channel. The Scion, Girlfriend and Princess have got a joint one, and Princess assures me that when This Is All Over, she’ll come home with her Firestick and I too can indulge in the entire Marvel Universe or thirty years of The Simpsons. Anyway, last Saturday Upstairs were giving it welly with Sing-Along-A Frozen, followed by Sing-Along-A Little Mermaid, and Beauty and the Beast up to ‘Be Our Guest’. Having brought up two Disney obsessed kids, I know all the words to them too. Mine were grown up when Frozen came out, and could damn well go and see it by themselves if they wanted to, but many of my work colleagues were parents, and a chorus of ‘Let It Go’ became the standard response to everything.
Me: I’m bloody pissed off with IT.
Entire Office: Lerrit go-o-o-o…
Both last Thursday and this, people round my way clapped their hands because they believe in the NHS and the other keyworkers. I joined in. I know there’s a lot of mixed feelings about it. Applause is fine, but it won’t provide PPE in the present crisis, and it’s no guarantee of better pay and working conditions in the future. But I think people genuinely want to show their appreciation, and it’s good it was also dedicated to other keyworkers this time. Such a shame, then, that supermarket workers are being shouted and sworn and coughed at, and people are letting the tyres down on ambulances, and the pharmacy workers are being treated appallingly. The son of one of my best friends works in a pharmacy. He’s working his arse off at the shop, and then delivering medication in the evenings before he goes home, all without proper PPE. He regularly gets shouted at and abused if people have to wait. I was a little shocked to read that the worst behaviour towards pharmacy staff is coming from the over sixties. A load of foaming-mouthed grey-hairs who should know better. As a foaming-mouthed grey-hair myself, I’m thoroughly ashamed of them.
Not long before the lockdown, I was queueing at the pharmacy counter in Boots when the chap in front of me, grey-haired if not exactly foaming, started a very loud conversation with an equally grey-haired woman at the back of the queue, deploring the length of time we were having to wait. It was, apparently, disgraceful and unacceptable. I offered the view that it wasn’t surprising, under the circumstances. To which the woman said, ‘What circumstances?’ and the man told me that I might choose to accept sub-standard service, but he never would, whatever the circumstances. When I laughed and told him he probably wouldn’t have any choices at all soon, he said that was the problem these days, people like me accepting a lowering of standards.
I was back at the pharmacy a couple of days before I started showing symptoms, queueing outside to be allowed in, and then standing on the distance markers in the queue for the counter. I so wanted him to be there, just so I could see his stupid face and laugh at it. I was disappointed, but there’s always next time. I won’t be rude to him, of course, or make an obscene gesture, or chuck something weighty at his gonads, because now I am a mellow, optimistic fluffy bunny, working on my fluffy bunny muscles. I shall, graciously and with a bright smile, lerrit go.