On waking, I was presented with the age-old custom of a mug of tea. My wife was moving from the bedroom to the bathroom picking up various pieces of clothing as she dressed herself for work. Last night the government announced that schools and colleges would close as of the end of the week, apart from providing services for key workers. There is a vague idea that schools will return sometime in the future. It was with a strange feeling that I left the school at the end of Wednesday afternoon.
That significant ‘sometime in the future’ could see lots of things unravel in the self-isolating months. Easter would come and go, Spring Bank, the summer term and then the holidays, and all the while the virus would be creeping towards us, latching onto one at a time. If I had been spooked before, this feeling was one of almost certain dread. I had my wife to think about, my kids to concern me and a wage to earn.
My position is somewhat precarious, being that I am only contracted for two days of the week and with the added possibility that the school decides that it needs to tighten its belt thus making me an obvious choice for redundancy. Probably won’t happen, but neither would the Black Death. And then there is the middle daughter whose take on life is like one long punt up the river. She is still somewhat detached from reality and may have contracted the virus. Of all of us, she is the most vulnerable as her respiratory system often throws out prolonged bouts of coughs when the rest of the world is blooming. I phoned her last night and she promised to phone me every morning and evening to keep us informed about her wellbeing; this morning she did not call me until I phoned her a couple of times.
So, my wife and I were up at the normal time and off to complete an abnormal activity, shopping.
The world-wide need for toilet roll and pasta continued and, as we pulled into the supermarket car park, we were faced with herds of shoppers leaving with arms full of the required paper and bags full of pasta. When we got to the shelves they were bare. But if the two previous items are not at the top of your list, frozen vegetables offered a way out. Unfortunately, the frozen veg was similarly vanquished. A guy turned to me at the checkout and shuck his head,
“Bloody madness,” he said.
I agreed, but these are bloody mad times.
When we completed our essential buys we returned home to an answer phone that was screaming out demands for me to contact the supply agency. They were drowning in request for staff at schools that only had two days to complete their terms. I deleted the message and felt a little guilty in the process.