Lordy Lordy - Bubble Buddies
I was woken by the chimes of the ice cream van, which had been abandoned in the east field since lockdown was announced in the middle of the village fete I'd been hosting.
As if responding to the chimes, Box chose that moment to enter with my breakfast tray - coffee, toast, toast adornments and a cake with smiley-faced icing. This was not a good sign, Box always gives me a smiley-cake to cheer me up when there is bad news.
"What is it Box? Tell me the worst."
"Your post, my Lord," Box said, handing me a pile of brown envelopes he'd secreted underneath the morning paper.
"We could afford to pay the bills if the companies saved money by sending emails instead of a stream of letters. Haven't they heard of online business?"
"I should draw your attention to the broadband bill, they're threatening to cut you off."
"I'll deal with them later," I said, and took the tray of breakfast comestibles. "Wait a minute Box," I said, "There's cream in my coffee."
"Yes my Lord."
"But you never give me cream ... only if .... "There's more bad news isn't there Box?"
"It's councilor Crumbly ..."
"He's not dead is he?"
"I'm afraid it's worst than that my Lord. He wants you to join his bubble."
"His bubble? What is that, some kind of club?"
"He wants you to be the close person he can see during the Covid-19 restrictions."
"Yes my Lord."
I pondered the implications of sharing a bubble with councilor Crumbly whilst buttering my toast. Then I saw something terrifying in the toasty adornments.
"Oh no! This marmalade, Box. It's the special marmalade, the one I really like, the one you say you can never get hold of. This must mean really bad news. He's here, isn't he Box?"
"Downstairs waiting for you, my Lord."
I enjoyed my once in a lifetime breakfast not at all, dressed as slowly as I could and went downstairs where councilor Crumbly, in spite of the early hour, had already made vast inroads into my special bottle of sherry.
"Lordy," he said in enthusiastic greeting, "It' looks like we're bubble buddies. Would you like to drink to it?" He offered me the remnants of my sherry bottle.
"It's a little early," I said.
"Is it? You loose track of time with all this lockdown nonsense. Bet you're glad I called. You must be going stark staring mad living on your own."
"I have Box."
"Oh, servants don't count. They'll be replaced by robots within the decade. Well, are you ready to go?"
"Go? This is my house."
"Ha, you're always ready with a quip. Bet you're the funniest fellow in the House of Lords. I meant are you ready for our walk."
"Yes, that's what bubble buddies are for, long hikes. Ask Box to fix us both supper."
"Supper? I've only just breakfasted."
"Ha, another one, you should go on one of those TV panel shows, you'd be funnier than the lot of 'em. I mean it'll be time for supper by the time we get back. Don't worry, I have a little flask, in case we need a boost ten miles in."
"I don't think it's wise to share a flask during the pandemic," I said. "Not even with your bubble partner."
"I've brought a flask each, Lordy, safety first after all."
At this moment Box entered, he was in one of his busy-busy-bustling moods, the sort he adopts when he's trying to get rid of me for the day, and I saw him putting together various Tupperware containers.
"I must say," said Crumbly, as we were waiting for Box to finish tupperwaring, "This Covid-19 is proving rather lucrative."
"Really? I thought businesses were closing down?"
"Oh, yes, if you actually work and trade and all that nonsense. I mean government contracts. I'm doing the vaccine rollout locally. I'm getting a veritable fortune."
At this point Box rudely interrupted, handing me an outside rucksack. "Your rucksack, my Lord. It contains a luncheon, a pre-luncheon snack, a post luncheon snack, elevensies, twlevesies and a spare snack just in case."
"Thank you Box. I can't persuade you to join us as donkey in chief?"
"I'm afraid I've already reached my personal bubble capacity my Lord."
"Oh well, I'll just break my back then. So, Crumbly, I didn't know you had a medical background?"
"Ha, good lord no. I play virtual golf with a health minister. Trouble is I still need to work out a way of delivering vaccines locally. They need to be kept chilled and all the frozen food delivery vans are being used by the frozen food companies."
"We have possession of a cold-storage-facilitated delivery vehicle," Box interrupted. "It even has musical chimes to alert people that the vaccine has arrived.."
"That's marvelous," said Crumbly. "Then all we need is a driver."
"I could do the driving as well," Box volunteered. "With parliament in lockdown I don't have my usual parliamentary duties."
"Splendid, I'll tell the minister to offer you a slot at the money trough."
"There is just one downside, my lord," Box said.
"If I'm in daily contact with the public and you're in daily contact with me, you won't be able to see anyone else."
"Yes my lord. Councilor Crumbly will have to find a new support bubble buddy."
"Oh that's fine," said Crumbly, "I'll dig up councilor Burrows, if I can keep him off the drink for half an hour."
"Well done Box. How can I thank you."
"My work is my reward my Lord," he said. "That and the usual ten percent."