Diary of a self-isolator – week 16
A lighthearted look at a few memories and the situation over the last seven days in our house.
Sunday 28/06/2020 – day 104
That’s another week done then, well it will be at the end of today, it’s very gusty outside at the moment and I am halfway through painting the back wall of the big garden building, I must admit it’s been looking a bit neglected lately, so she who must be obeyed decided that we (we?) should give it a lick of paint, I protested that I didn’t have enough of the original paint to do it (that excuse has served me well since lockdown} but then Mrs H suggests doing it another colour, still cream but a slightly different shade, so, armed with roller, dust sheets, steps and paint I trundle off dejectedly down the garden. From the outset it was quite obvious that one coat wasn’t going to hack it, I attempted a second coat but the first wasn’t dry enough, hence the fact that I will now have to return to the scene of the crime and continue.
I must tell you about a phone call that I had on Friday last, firstly, allow me to fill you in on the details. Over two weeks ago I did an online order for some pond fish food, some sludge buster (don’t ask) and some stuff to clean out Mrs H’s water features, no, dear reader, not those, the one’s in the garden!, So anyway I ordered it all, confirmed it was all in stock and paid over £40.00. Next day I had an email saying that my order was being processed, I immediately thought ‘what a good company’. A week later it hadn’t arrived and I was running short of food for greedy jaws and his mates, every time I passed the pond they popped up with their mouths open mouthing something incomprehensible, so I emailed them just asking politely if they could give me a rough idea of when my items would arrive, I waited 2 days still no reply, so I emailed them again, explaining that I was getting short of fish pellets.
2 days later still no reply so I repeated the second email, waited a couple of days and guess what – no reply! I also rang them twice and got the same message, ‘Sorry, there is no-one available to take your call, please try again later’.
I was now getting quite desperate so I emailed for the fourth time last Friday asking for my money back and saying that if I didn’t get it my next email would be to Trading Standards, well, to say that did the trick would be a massive understatement, less than 20 minutes after pressing send the phone rang, (I had to put phone number on email).
Them. Hello, is that Eric?
Them This is Jim from xxxxxxx pet supplies, can I just say that I am disgusted with the message you have just sent us, do you know how hard it is to run a business like this, I am working 14 hours a day 7 days a week and I have to put up with this crap from people like you, I —–
Me Whoa hang on there a minute Jim, it’s been over 2 weeks, I’ve messaged you 4 times and rang twice, why couldn’t you just answer?
This seemed to enrage the poor chap even more;
Them Because I have six people on furlough, there is only myself and my wife and there’s no-one to answer the bloody phone or the emails, are you living in the same world as us, do you realise how inundated we are, we are up to our necks in it here ….
By the time he had finished I was almost in tears, I felt so sorry for him that I nearly offered to go and give him a hand, I said that all he had to do was get back to me and let me know the situation and I would have gladly waited, he calmed down and said my stuff was on the way and was with the Royal Mail, it would be with me on Saturday or Monday. Sure enough, it arrived promptly on Saturday and I felt like a really horrible old git for having even bothered that poor stressed out chap, ah well, we live and learn and at least Jaws is a happy bunny – I mean fish.
A further 36 lives were lost to coronavirus in the past 24 hours.
Monday 29/06/2020 – Day 105
I really don’t know what happened today but we were woken at 9.30 by the daughter ringing Mrs H’s phone, ‘so what’ I hear you say, well, considering I am up between 5.30 am and 6.30 am every day I am left wondering how I lay in for over 3 hours, I hadn’t even had a drink! Actually, I tried to get up, but I’ve put on so much weight I rocked myself back to sleep twice!
Today starts week 16 can’t really believe it, last year if someone had told me that I had got to do 16 weeks solitary I would have laughed!
The wind is still blowing a gale outside and we are sat here watching Percy Pigeon and his missus building a nest in the Red Robin tree, twigs are flying everywhere and the missus seems to be getting very frustrated with her mate (been there, got the T-shirt) this will be the third pigeon’s nest in our garden and we are contemplating evicting them before they get too settled.
Meanwhile, Mr and Mrs Robin are busy feeding their brood with insects and worms while ‘Bouncer’ hasn’t been around for a while, but the signs that he is visiting are evident if you know what I mean.
I’ve just looked at my memories on Facebook, last year we were all looking forward to leaving the EU, (well, not all of us) but now I’d be happy just to leave the house! How our priorities change in such a short time eh?
Mrs H seems to have a problem with size lately, my lovely lady doesn’t drink tea, she drinks coffee and most things that are alcoholic based (I like Buttermints and yes, you’ve guessed it, Mrs H likes wine gums), But even coffee has to be made with milk so basically it’s a latte’, the thing is, that she likes two cups in a morning to get her going (No No No, not like that) so she has a white mug with the letter L on to start, then she has another cup which a friend brought her for her 60th birthday, hence the No 60 on the mug, she calls this the ‘small’ cup and likes it after a ‘large’ cup. My point is, that I haven’t had the nerve to tell her yet that I made a mistake one day and poured the milk into the large L cup by mistake, I thought, no problem I’ll just pour it into the small cup and have the remainder in my tea, so I did that and discovered that the amount in the big mug was the same amount as the small mug! Even now, Mrs H thinks she is having a large Latte or a small Latte. Truth is – they are exactly the same lol.
Once again the figures for coronavirus were quite low for today, they were at 25, I can’t remember the last time we saw that figure, but, we are still in weekend mode.
Tuesday 30th June 2020 – Day 106.
Just in case you didn’t know – it’s Tuesday today. Got up a bit earlier this morning, actually I woke up in a bit of a start, I was having the strangest dream, I was in a beauty parlour giving Mrs H her first ever bikini wax, and wondering whether I should I wake her up or let it be a surprise!
Still very blustery out there, have been promised some decking to make a new memorial trellis box for Vickie, I made the existing one almost seven years ago so it hasn’t done too bad, the problem is that it’s full of flowers and roses that friends and family have bought over the years, it is now starting to collapse quite badly to one side, but I have no wood whatsoever to even carry out a simple repair, so hopefully, I will have enough timber to make a new one soon.
Managed to finish painting that wall at last! It’s had more coats than Burton’s Tailors, should last a bit longer now though, just got Mrs H’s cocktail area to paint, talking of Mrs H I was sat quietly reading the newspaper, and I came across an article about a beautiful actress and model, she’d married a boxer who was not noted for his IQ or his looks.
“I’ll never understand,” I said to Mrs H, “why the biggest and ugliest idiots get the most attractive wives.”
Mrs H replied, “Why, thank you, darling.”
Er – Hello!
I read with interest today that hot tub sales have gone through the roof, no, I don’t mean they are exploding all over the place, but sales have risen by 1000% during lockdown, perhaps a lot of people didn’t realise how much their partner smelled until they were stuck in a 12 x 12 room with them for days on end!, Apparently, even second-hand ones are being sold at a profit. Mrs H has been trying to get me to buy one for ages, do you think she’s trying to tell me something? My argument is that anyone who wants to sit in what is basically a cauldron of steaming porridge needs to sort themselves out a decent shower lol!.
The death figure rose sharply today, as expected after the weekend numbers, it stood at 155 for the past 24 hours.
Wednesday 01/07/2020 – Day 107
Hope you all said ‘White rabbits’ three times this morning, Well it’s the 1st of July and it’s a beautiful Summer day – I don’t think! The storm clouds are gathering as I type with big dark skies amassing overhead.
We keep getting lots of ‘spam’ through the door, there seem to be sales everywhere at the moment, stores, especially clothing, seem to have an overspill of Winter and Spring stock, because they haven’t been able to open, consequently there are sales in every town in every street.
Well Mrs H has decided to jump on the bandwagon, she has relayed to me at breakfast this morning that her wardrobe after just a few months of new stuff is once again outdated. She has been in lockdown for the same time as me, we are not invited to any weddings or re-openings, so why oh why does she need yet more new clothes.
I’m wondering if it has anything to do with those flat plastic bags that keep coming through the letterbox, they have a magical quality as they drop through the letterbox quite thin and appear a day later on the doorstep really swollen up, and just a few days later Mrs H is shopping the sales online!.
On the subject of clothes, I think Mrs H has either changed the washing powder or she’s had the machine on too hot, hardly any of my clothes seem to fit me properly since we’ve been on lockdown.
I am sat here twiddling my thumbs and waiting for the rain to stop, in fact, I was so bored I rang some people in India to ask if they’d had an accident in the last three years.
Mrs H meanwhile is complaining that my stash of Buttermints is taking up a whole shelf in her kitchen cupboards, dare I tell her that I have another 8 bags coming it tomorrows delivery? I think I’ll leave it till later when I’ve had a bit of Dutch Courage, (6 cans of draught Guinness) not that she scares me you understand.
Once again, the number of deaths has risen after weekend low figures, the number has risen to 176.
Thursday 02/07/2020 – Day 108
Another dark dreary day on the horizon, I blame Mrs H for moaning about the heat last week!
The thing is, that I have lots of work to do, but most of it involves painting outside and the weather is so unpredictable, I also need to put a new roof on the building down the garden, but again, it is a two day job and if it rains and all the furniture below gets wet, well, I wouldn’t like to be within arm’s length of Mrs H’s fist.
George called in on his way back from the shops just to enlighten us with his latest judgement on some of the local people, I have no idea why he was shouting – he was only 2 meters away.
George “Just been down to that supermarket, never again (he says that every week), waste of space all of em!”
Me “What have the staff done now?”
George “Not the staff, them customers – so bloody rude, This government could soon get them out of the shops and off the streets.
Me “Oh, yes, and how could they do that?”
George “Easy, just bring back Jeremy Kyle, they’ll soon be back on their sofa’s fag in one hand and a can in the other, you can say what
like about that Jeremy, but he kept the riff raff off the streets while I did my shopping”.
With that statement still ringing in my head he was gone. I was left slightly bewildered thinking that a visit from George in 2020 is like standing on a street looking both ways to make sure the way is clear and then getting hit by an aeroplane as you cross lol.
A sharp drop in the figures today with deaths down to 44, so, slightly pleasing news for once,
Friday 03/07/2020 – Day – 109
I was laying in bed this morning at 5.30 am contemplating on whether or not I should get my ample backside from between the sheets and get a cup of tea, I’m getting up so early these days that I have my four Weetabix at 6.00am and my ‘breakfast’ at 9.00 am. People say, why do you get up so early, but I’ve never been capable of lying in bed for no reason. Besides, I like the peace and tranquillity at that time of the morning, I get all sorts of thoughts in my head, this morning for no particular reason, my mind was turned to my pea picking days as a child.
I went quite often on these ‘picking’ days but my first ever experience was a memorable one. I left home with my Nan about 7am clutching my pop bottle full of cold tea and some fish paste sandwiches wrapped in the greaseproof Mother’s Pride wrapper. For an old lady of 65 my nan was very spritely and I struggled to keep up with her on the walk to the lorry. My shoes were protected on the heels and toes by Blakeys steel half moon protectors which were hammered on, the ensuing noise made me feel like a miner at the pithead
We were stood outside Nora’s (the organiser) house, they were both chatting away and drawing heavily on woodbine cigarettes when there was an enormous row which sounded like one of those old steam engines, I looked up as Norah casually said, “Lorries here, careful on the back”.
It just about managed to stop outside her house, then a burly man with a battered flat cap on stumbled from the cab. He had on a jacket with the elbows missing, his trousers were held up with string and rolled up at the bottom, his boots ‘flapped’ as he walked and he had a well lived in face resembling a map of England – complete with contours, valleys, Mountains and two days hair growth. His mouth had a ready rolled cigarette hanging from it, the ash was about an inch long and I marvelled at how it actually stayed connected.
“Better get a move on, It’s playin up, if she cuts out we’re walkin”
I will never ever forget that voice, it just did not go with that face, it was very effeminate and soft.
He placed an old wooden crate on the ground to give the pickers a bit of help to get on to the back, but I was still struggling.
He picked me up and literally threw me onto the back of the lorry like an old rag doll, the others struggled on quickly before they got the same treatment, I was fortunate in a way as I grabbed the only bucket that was available to sit on.
To say the lorry had seen better days was being kind, there were hessian sacks spread around, not for the travellers comfort, but to save the backside of the aforementioned from the hundreds of splinters sticking out from the lorry’s bed, It had solid sides about a foot high and then wooden extensions on top of those, so if a child stood up they couldn’t fall over the side – but an adult could!
Thankfully, the lorry engine burst into life and we were under way, the trip off the estate was ok as we rumbled along slowly, but when we hit the main road it soon changed, all the loose dust on the floor swirled up violently hitting everyone in the face. Some stood up to avoid it but sat down again as the flies were even worse!
The journey was a series of brakes and violent swerves, causing one elderly fellow to question the drivers parenthood by means of a few well – placed expletives. Within thirty minutes we were on a dirt road in a field, although it seemed a lot longer than that, the lorry shook, shuddered and hit every bump and dip, everyone was elated as it finally ground to a halt, the driver came round and dropped the tailboard allowing his bedraggled cargo to alight, by the time the last picker had dropped off the tailboard Nora and Gran were already picking in a row of peas, to say that they were dexterous for their age would be a gross understatement.
A nice old chap showed me the ropes as my Grandmother was too busy picking!
It took me about 2 hours to fill a net that my Gran filled in 20 minutes, the upshot was that I dragged it over to the weighing station where a skinny little chap was waiting, he picked up the net I had struggled with in one hand and threw it onto the scales –
“too light young un, another bucketful”
I dragged it back to the row I was picking and began to fill a bucket, thirty minutes later the skinny chap weighed it again and pushed a token into my hand which I studied with a perplexed look on my face.
The skinny man sighed, “What you’ve got in your hand is worth two bob young un, bring it here Friday afternoon and it’ll be swapped for cash, are you wiv anyone?”
I told him I was with my Gran and strolled away wondering if he actually got paid.
I spent the rest of the afternoon breaking my back filling another net of peas, I looked across at Gran and Nora and they had a row of nets that stretched as far as the eye could see! In fact, everyone had a row of nets except me, I felt elated when everyone started to pack up and leave, I couldn’t believe how tired I felt, I was used to walking miles and playing outside for ten hours or more, but nothing had prepared me for a day in the fields pea picking,
Later on whilst the dust swirled around my head I proudly clutched the two precious tokens in my little fist, as I got off the back of the wagon Gran spoke to me for the first time since that morning,
“alright young Eric, how did you do today then?
I opened my fist revealing the red lines where I had clutched the tokens. Gran said I had done well for my age and promised that if I couldn’t go on Friday she would cash them in for me.
And that was my first experience of many in the fields.
After yesterday’s low figure it has risen to 147 in the last 24 hours.
Saturday 04/07/2020 – Day 110
If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my 25 years on earth, it’s that it’s ok to lie about your age.
Today is a special day in the calendar, because on this day in 1776, the 13 American colonies claimed their independence from England, an event which eventually led to the formation of the United States. Also known as Independence Day, Americans celebrate this historic event with great gusto, but not as much gusto as most Brits will celebrate when they are allowed back into public houses after 3 months of dryness. Trust me, they will make Independent day look like an episode from Hinge and Brackets tea party.
Too much relaxation far too soon I think, can you really imagine a group of lads and lasses not getting near each other after half a bottle of spirits from the top shelf?
Everyone goes daft in this country after just smelling the barmaid’s apron, it has been instilled in us since time immemorial by our oft squiffy parents. They will hug, kiss and yes, some will go a lot further (I must stop visiting facebook late at night), it is part of the Saturday night scene in Britain. Only one thing is known for sure – the police aren’t looking forward to it, I mean, which dimwit came up with the idea that pubs should open for the first time in 3 months on a Saturday? Beam me up Scotty!
Just for your delectation here is another snippet from the useless information department, I’ve just realised that Muffins spelt backwards is what you do when you take em out of the oven.
The figure for yesterday was 67, that’s a total of 650 for the past 7 days, and we are told that it’s getting better!
Well dear people it seems that my work is done here for another week, I shall return next Sunday – God willing – in an attempt to ease your frustration of being banned from your local after just one hour for not getting out of the habit of taking your own lunch.
It’s been emotional.
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