You know how it is — you’ve just washed the last paintbrush, positioned the headboard so that it hides the place where you bashed a hole in the new wallpaper before your husband had even got the paste-bucket washed out, and arranged the pot-plants to best advantage on the new shelves, then along comes a global pandemic that turns your tastefully renovated bedroom into something resembling the aftermath of a hurricane in Furniture Mine. I fell asleep last night with the disconcerting impression that I was bedding down in my husband’s place of work. By the time I’d had my shower this morning he was already at his desk wearing the full shirt, tie and suit jacket combo — I didn’t dare look to see what he had on under the desk.
Following government advice that anyone with a chronic lung condition should self-isolate, for potentially up to twelve weeks, Daddy is now also working from home wherever possible. Yesterday we decided it would be best to temporarily withdraw Freddie from school, to protect Daddy, Lucy, and our elderly parents who really cannot do without our help. Each new day we are having to make decisions that balance the need to protect their physical health against the need to protect their mental health. Freddie’s school were very supportive of our decision, given the circumstances.
Just two weeks ago I couldn’t have felt much more content. But Coronavirus has brought home to me just how vulnerable my family are, just how fragile are the foundations on which my whole world rests. It’s a very disturbing feeling.
This latest home office we’ve had to set up is much less Heath Robinson than the first, because Daddy has commandeered my desk, which usually lurks under the stairs. Even I was shocked at the teetering pile of crumbs behind it which came halfway up a skirting board of 1930s dimensions. I did briefly consider scooping them up and bunging them in freezer in case I couldn’t get any chicken dippers, but I’m not a complete slut (just an amateur slattern), so I threw them in the bin. Having now tried to book a delivery slot for this week’s grocery order, I realise this is a decision I may regret when I am forced to catapult the pigeons on our lawn to make us a dinner – breadcrumbs could be the difference between roadkill and Gastropub. Pigeon nugget, anyone?
Because Lucy and Daddy each have an ‘office’, Freddie wanted one too. So we cleared the junk off his desk and stuck a note on his door detailing his ‘office hours’. His is the best. The only person who doesn’t have an office now is me. I am forced to write at the dining table, on the late shift after Freddie is in bed. This is most unsatisfactory. The dining room is the main thoroughfare to the kitchen and people WILL insist on talking to me as they go past. Like I’m available. Or some kind of kitchen receptionist: ‘Oh, hello – I’m here for my eleven o’clock with a peanut butter, cheese and gherkin sandwich, have we got any in?’
I may have to start wearing this …
Or perhaps this plague is God’s way of saying: ‘Maybe everyone HAS got a book inside them, but in your case that’s exactly where it should stay’.
On the upside, I now know where all the bread goes, and where all the dishes come from that magically appear overnight.