200404 tumbleweeds

Tumbleweeds: the high street of my town, today.

This journal has been quiet for the last two days while I tried to catch up and keep up with developments in the news, over on Vox Political.

This has proved practically impossible as the Tory government’s cock-ups mount up. The more we learn, the angrier we should be.

Where is the protective equipment our medical staff were promised? Today I saw a news item showing that people were making their own – including face masks fabricated on a 3D printer.

Where are the ventilators? Boris Johnson managed – through ignorance or stupidity – to avoid taking part in an EU scheme to share these vital pieces of equipment, but he has left us struggling to source them.

Why are tests not taking place and why were useless appendages like Matt Hancock able to get one when our vital medical staff were not?

Come to that, if the government is able to write off £13.4 billion of NHS debt now, why has it forced that debt on the service in the first place and why did the Tories insist on forcing health trusts to try to pay it off, along with the interest on it?

And while all this is – or rather isn’t – progressing, we’ve all been trying to live with the lockdown.

Today I’m seriously out of sorts, having taken a trip to a supermarket that shall not be named.

It’s operating a one-way system, with everybody asked to maintain a distance of two metres behind the person in front.

That may seem reasonable – unless you find yourself behind somebody really, re-al-ly, slow.

But can you get past them and still maintain that two-metre rule? And if you try, won’t you find annoying staff members standing in the way – not because you’re breaking the rule but because they’ve got nowhere better to hang around? I think you will.

So, for the sake of five items of grocery, I ended up traipsing around the store for 40 minutes or thereabouts.

And the fact of the matter is: while it’s extremely annoying, nobody was doing anything wrong.

(I mention five items of grocery; the list was written by Mrs Mike and I’m assuming that her demands for a house with an art room and a sewing room, a holiday and a life were humorous.)

Being out meant I at least got to talk with other people. As I passed beneath the window of a friend who lives in the town centre, I heard his voice calling out: “Police! Arrest that man!”

I pretended to run away but came back and chatted for a while. The conversation felt slightly surreal, though – me on the ground shouting up, him on the first floor, shouting down. But there weren’t any passers-by to look askance at us.

The atmosphere reminded me of afternoons when I was off school in the 1970s.

That evening, my cat and I thought we were visited by a poltergeist.

I was working late and everyone else had gone to bed. Suddenly there was a loud THUD! from the shelves where Mrs Mike keeps her art material and I looked across to see that a pot containing feather quills had managed to work itself off of a shelf and fall onto the floor, all by itself.

Weirder still, the cat got up off the sofa next to me, glanced in the general direction of the overtoppled pot, squawked like a duck and shot out of the room.

Bizarre. Or maybe our minds have started playing tricks on us after less than two weeks in lockdown.

Even more bizarre: I was on the phone to a mate who had (very kindly, I thought) called to see how I was getting along. We’d been talking for a while when Mrs Mike came in from the front garden, which she had been mowing, so I said I’d have to go because she was going to want me to help cook some food.

“Is it fajitas?” my friend asked.

“Yes! How did you know that?”

He had no idea.

Later in the evening I coughed.

Just once.

But it was enough to prompt Mrs Mike and me to suggest that it was coronavirus.