The Tier 3 Party

And so, Kent – like many other parts of the country – falls into Tier 3. The strictest and tightest of them all.

To celebrate, I’m having a party. Sadly, you are not invited.

Nobody is.

I hope you can understand the position,
behind your unfortunate omission,
from a guestlist made up just of me…
But only one can attend the “Tier 3 Partee”.

It’s Bring Your Own Booze,
which means I get to choose,
from what’s already here,
wine and gin, but no beer.

But – hip hip hooray!
Faversham’s new Aldi opened today.
I can now stock up on snacks
and a dozen kayaks!

BUT OH NO!

They only sell two seaters,
between them less than two metres,
so I’ll just have to leave them ’til Spring,
along with pretty much everything!

At my Tier 3 party there’ll be a cake,
because in lockdown we’ve all learnt to bake,
but hundreds-and-thousands are banned
so it’ll taste a bit bland…

The cake will have several tiers
so it will last a couple of years,
because I can’t eat cake that quickly.
Indeed, I find too much quite sickly.

I will also be hosting some games,
but please don’t shoot me down in flames
just because I’ll always win.
The opposition is just a bit thin.

But the very best thing about this event?
Is that I won’t even realise I went,
‘Cos when the games are done and it’s time to head,
I’ll just roll down the hall to my very own bed.

No need to R.S.V.P

Love,

The Tier 3 Party





Rainbow

I think every now and then, each of us really needs to see a rainbow.

A beautiful reminder of what can happen when the sunshine meets the rain.

But also of how the things which fill us with awe can quickly fade away.

So dance.

Dance your hardest beneath this amazing arc of light;

And when you gaze upon it in the sky,

it will tell you exactly why:

“You had the sun, then you had the rain.

After the pleasure, then came the pain.

But after the pain, came the brightness again


A brightness more radiant than before”

So dance.

Dance your hardest when the time is right.

Within the glow of this awesome, impermanent sight.

Where each shade will tell you a million tales.

Enjoy the show,

Enjoy the rainbow.

Song of the Day: Bright Eyes – A Perfect Sonnet / Bowl of Oranges

Many 30-somethings today, dotted around the globe, will tell you that the Omaha, Nebraska indie-rock scene of the early ’00’s had some sort of effect upon their adolescence and / or early adulthood. Bright Eyes were a band who typified this scene. Each tune so full of raw emotion and energy, yet so unheard of at a time when the only real access to new music came in the form of whatever happened to be playing in whatever record shop you happened to be standing in at whatever time, or what somebody recommended to you.
In 2003, somebody off some internet forum somewhere, accessed by a dial-up, had told a 17 year old me to check out their song “A Perfect Sonnet” on the back of the fact I liked Weezer, and it was a tune that did – and still does, 17 years later – send an absolute chill down my spine. The lyrics to this song may not be the happiest yet you just cannot help but feel in awe of how the lead, Conor Oberst, manages to channel raw feeling into three and a half minutes of secret layers of song.
Having said that, the Bright Eyes tune originally picked for this month’s “Song of the Day” was a slightly brighter sounding offering call “Bowl of Oranges”, but, much like the spirit of the rainbow, I would suggest that people listen to both. So am recommending two songs, to be listened to one after the other 🙂

A Perfect Sonnet:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZICv6xbFBw4

Bowl of Oranges:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XUym7n7fJTQ

People – 1, Technology – 0

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I had been staying in what felt like the middle of nowhere, in the Shropshire hills, on my way back from Wales.

I had known nothing of this area beforehand, but had quickly come to realise that it was the sort of place in which you could so easily get lost; where the name of each settlement was either ridiculously long or ridiculously short. “Twindlebury Bigbum” or “Fum” would have been quite acceptable words on the map here, and when you’re from a county where places have boring names like “Ashford” or “Chatham”, this is a particularly amusing source of entertainment.

Unsurprisingly, I knew very little about how to navigate my way around the likes of Twindlebury Bigbum and Fum, so when it came time to leave my little shepherds hut in the hills and go home, I had no choice but to put all my faith into my 2014 Satnav to direct me back to Kent.

It instructed me to turn right upon leaving the farm where I’d been staying, and from that point I became completely subservient to its commands. “Satnav really knows its stuff”, I thought to myself, internally marveling at how precise its instructions were. For quite a while, I merrily continued along the hills trying to absorb some final bits of natural beauty before I returned back to the reality of Kent, work and thinking about the pandemic.

Around twenty minutes into my journey, a large, red “Road Ahead Closed” sign appeared in the road next to some cones. I ignored it and carried on. Then another one appeared, and I did the same thing. And again. And again.

To not be able to follow the Satnav’s route would mean a very timely detour in a place like this, and I had absolutely no idea where I was, or how to get back on track if I needed to divert. My mobile had lost signal and I knew my Satnav had an unfortunate tendency to stubbornly just insist on u-turns if I ever disobeyed it. Each time I carried on past a “Road Ahead Closed” sign I became more and more fixed in the belief that perhaps I could get away with being a rebel, and that eventually the signs would stop and pay no further threat to my route home.

But then the Highway Maintenance van appeared, blockading the road and instantly crushing my ignorance and naivety. High-viz’ed men stood by the side of the vehicle, to stop people from passing any further. I admitted defeat and wound down the window to ask for their help.

“Excuse me”, I motioned their attention, “I’m not from around here, and really don’t know where to go, since this road is closed”

“That makes two of us then” grimaced the younger of the two men, “where is it you’re trying to head to?”

“Well, Kent actually”

“Kent!?!”

I think he’d hoped I was striving to get to somewhere closer by, like Birmingham or Shrewsbury. But the “Kent” response had thrown a complete spanner in the works, and now we all felt equally awkward.

The two men engaged in chat, and eventually turned back to me.

“If you follow this side-road over here on the left, and keep on it, it should eventually put you back here on the main road at the point at which it opens up again, then you can carry on as planned. Good luck!”

I thanked the men for their help and did exactly what they said. Their suggested route took me through even smaller hamlets and even longer place names. I was surprised to see that one such place even boasted a barbers. “How on earth does that place stay in business?” I thought to myself, “the three people who live here surely don’t need their hair done that often?!”.

Astounded by this, I carried on driving, and the men’s instructions did eventually take me back out onto the main road as they’d promised… only at that point there was another obstacle there, in the form of another Highway Maintenance truck and a colleague of theirs stood beside it waving people away. Knowing nothing of my exchange with his peers, he motioned me back along the main road in the direction from which I’d come. Again, I did exactly as told. And then, a short while later, found myself reunited with my high-viz’ed friends from earlier.

We were all similarly as surprised to see one another again.

“I did what you said, but now I really have absolutely no idea what I’m doing or now need to do” I conceded as I slowed down past them.

By this point it was fair to say I was feeling a little frustrated. I’d been on the road for an hour by this point, and not even left the Shropshire Hills. I had at least another four hours to drive once I was away from there, and I really didn’t want to face any further delays, not only because of the impenetrable fact that there is absolutely nothing useful about those, but I also had a joint of silver-side beef freshly bought from the farm which needed to get into a refrigerator A.S.A.P. A diversion, or to go back the way I’d come and follow a different route home altogether, would have added at least another unwelcome hour to an already tight journey.

The men took pity on me, and instructed me to pull up in a lay-by whilst they whispered together a plan.

“My colleague is going to escort you through the closed road”, said the younger man after they’d spent some time conferring, “just follow him and he’ll take you to where you need to be. But let’s wait until this white car has passed; we don’t want anyone else to get wind of this, or they’ll all be asking to do it. If anyone else should stop you on the way, just say you live here and you need to get through.”

And with that, the Highway Maintenance van set off with its hazard lights on, me pathetically – yet very gratefully – trailing close behind. We carried on like this for several miles along the closed road, until we reached the part where it opened up once more.

I was then able to continue my journey home without unnecessary diversions, because of a random act of human kindness that no Satnav could ever have replicated.

It made me think about technology, and all of the faith we put into it, particularly recently. Technology has been a great saviour during the pandemic, allowing us to still “see” friends and family when rules dictate being physically apart, and it might know which way to turn when exiting a random farm, but there are still a lot of things it cannot do. Bending rules, going the extra mile, and empathising with human need, are but three of those things.

I will always be grateful to these two men for bending the rules and their professional protocol for me. They took pity on a damsel in distress and safely navigated an alternative way for me to get where I needed to. Satnav, Siri and co would not have been able to do this for me. In fact, if I’d been reliant on just technology to help me, I’d probably still be there right now, in the Shropshire hills, driving back and forth between red metal road closure signs, and desperately pointing my phone to the heavens to try and get a momentary shred of signal.

At a time where we are having to turn to the online world even more than ever before, it’s important to remember that even the cleverest, most advanced of technologies are not without their limitations.

No app can ever quite rival decent human nature and a bit of heart.

Song of the Day: Lemon Demon – Eighth Wonder

This is a pretty catchy number from musical project, Lemon Demon. I never tend to understand what his songs are about but a quick gaze at the YouTube comments suggests this one is about a mongoose who believed he was the eighth wonder of the world. More surprising still is that this is actually a true story. The mongoose was apparently called Gef, and he lived with a family on the Isle of Man in the 1930’s. I need a drink.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SeXE6lo2dzI

Music of the Outdoors

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I’m not sure how many hours I’ve spent walking around Faversham since March, but it’s easily a three digit figure.

And since Faversham is not exactly a large, sprawling metropolis… that’s meant a lot of repetition within the routes.

Crazy then, that each day I still manage to see something that takes my breath away.  Usually a sunset.  Often a cloud.  Sometimes a boat.  Occasionally a cow.

Once a wayward balloon knotted round a tree, whose eulogy will tell the long, complex story of its fateful travels from Card Factory to the Creek.

And each time I walk along the same old paths and streets, I wonder what it is exactly, that makes it never feel boring?

I often imagine that within our mind there is a set of piano keys which is struck by fingers strung-up to whatever our senses pick up on.  In recent months it’s felt as though there have been a few too many sounds coming out of the bass clef; but in a way those have only made their opposites more melodic and tuneful whenever they are heard.

And I often hear those opposites whilst walking.  When I see a sunset or a cloud or a boat or a cow or a tangled balloon in a tree.

And that’s why it never gets boring.

Nature seems to have a magical knack of playing the right notes every single time, a combination of keys – sounds, scents and breeze – that permeate the soul and rejuvenate spirit.  Beautiful chords which double-up as the better songs from the soundtrack to living through a global crisis.

And, of course, actual music helps too.

Song of the Day:  Parov Stelar – Silver Line

This brand new release is some seriously sensational sound.  This is the sort of song you want to listen to whilst sat underneath the stars on a balmy night whilst eating a piece of 90% cacao chocolate.

And I’m cherishing it as much as I can before it gets overplayed and ruined in car commercials or in the background of cutting edge BBC documentaries.

C-19 Internal Monologues Part 10: Looking Back & Moving On

The situation is far from over, but in recent weeks we have been furnished with a growing number of returned liberties that incite a mixture of trepidation, excitement and relief.  We are no longer locked inside, reliant on Zoom calls to socialise, or fearing that every time we go out for exercise we have to keep within one hour and be on the move at all times else be condemned by strangers spying out of windows.

There is so much more we are “allowed” to do at the moment and – whilst many of us are still reluctant to pile into the pub and overdo it – it does feel pertinent to appreciate and make the most of finally being able to do some of the things we missed so much.  Of course, provided you’re wearing gloves and keeping the hand sanitiser close by.

Many are quick to warn of a second-wave, and they are right that the threat of that is very real if people don’t adhere to the guidelines.  But do you know what?

I really don’t want to hear about things like that anymore.

Because it’s all well and good worrying about it, but if this pandemic has taught us anything (it’s actually taught us hundreds if not thousands of things) then it’s that life can take us by surprise, and be cut short any time.

Apart from all those wise folks meticulously scrubbing their hands and wiping their keyboards in January, pretty much most of us didn’t believe this pandemic would prove to be anything we should worry about.  We carried on.  We went into places. We saw our friends and family and greeted them with hugs. We booked holidays and dreamed of big things for 2020.

Then suddenly all of these things were snapped away from us like a plaster being ripped from a fresh wound – sudden, leaving a lingering sting – and we had no idea when we would be able to do them again.

Four months on, and there are still a vast many things are waiting for.  Hugs.  Meeting with friends and family without worrying about the number of households present.  Feeling truly safe.  Feeling truly free.

March, April and May in particular were three very distressing months for us all and I think the longer term mental health impacts of that time will ripple across society for years and decades to come, not least for those working on the front line or those unable to say goodbye to loved ones.  I’m also fairly sure that the majority of these mental health impacts won’t even manifest just yet, but in time, when the reality of what we have all experienced really sets in.

But there is also a danger that we will do ourselves even worse mental damage by avoiding, through fear, the time we have to spend with those we care about.  I find myself being marginally more concerned about this at the moment, than the virus itself.  Three months away from loved ones is hard enough – but manageable – but how much longer should we abstain from making new memories?  Time is so precious, the pandemic taught us, so does it really make sense to spend infinite amount of it zipped away?  To me it doesn’t.  I think we should be making the most of the time we have with people, but balancing it out with keeping safe.  Not overdoing it by engaging in hedonistic displays of mass boozing and bathing, like a scary proportion are.  Just having company, and appreciating the sheer ability to be able to spend time with people, is good enough for me right now.  It also helps that the weather is good and we can spend this time outdoors within nature; which is not only safer but beats the sterile environment of a restaurant chain, where we might otherwise have met, any day:

IMG_20200720_225804_208

To this end, this chapter may well be the last of my C-19 Internal Monologues, because even whilst the situation rolls on I’m not sure I want the topic to form the underlay of all my future posts until it stops.  This will undoubtedly be thing the defines 2020 for all of us but it’s time to let other things play a part in the year now too.

I think it’s time to Look Back & Move On.  Carefully.

 

 

C-19 Internal Monologues Part 9: The Wobbling Bridge

Since I last wrote, life has started to feel a little more normal.

We are still in “lockdown”, but many of the restrictions have been eased.  Crucially, we are able to see our friends and families again, albeit at a distance, outdoors, and certainly not in large groups.  But still, that alone is a very valuable something.

The death toll has continued to grow, but is slowing.  For the most part, society seems to have accepted both the challenge – and the need – to be socially distanced, and this is helping.  Businesses and hospitality outlets are there for us once more and we each draw comfort from the familiarity of this.

The smell of pizza by Faversham Creek and the ability to take it home with you.

The technician booked in to come and do the repair.

It still remains tough for everybody, especially health workers; and leading on from my last post, I do not see fit to draw any kind of comparisons, or surmise that there is anyone out there who is not still battling against the pandemic in some way.  But here are my own personal thoughts and reflections, which may resonate with others.

It’s perhaps only now, when the lockdown – in its strictest form – is a thing of the past, that I realise how huge and how difficult those few weeks in March and April were.  Weeks without seeing anybody I love in the flesh at all.  Weeks when telling a random stranger in passing that he had a cute dog was the limit to the social interaction I had away from a screen.  When 8pm on a Thursday was a rare opportunity to see evidence of life outside the window.  When I felt naughty just for looking through my parents’ living room window whilst dropping off some items.  Weeks when I knew that no matter how hard I was finding it all; millions had it worse.  Weeks of feeling like I didn’t have the right to feel sad about any of it because of that.

In June, we might be able to see people again; but the problem hasn’t gone and neither has the emotional friction.  We still can’t go in to or stay in anybody’s homes that aren’t our own, so if your family and friends live hours away, which is the case for most people I know, this doesn’t really make a lot of difference. And unless your loved ones live either with you or within walking distance, that purifying cry, hug and bottle of wine (actually, sod it, make mine a Buckfast) which we want – and deserve  – to share with them will also have to wait.

And it’s because of things like this that the current time feels somewhat purgatorial: neither a beginning nor an end, but a wobbly drawbridge between the two, where we’re still very much afraid of falling off, and so are treading with caution.  Yes the end does now seem in sight, but by now we are all much the more weary from carrying our individual little suitcases of trauma to the point where our hands are really starting to hurt.  Many are bereaved.  Many are without jobs.  Many have seen their relationships fall apart under the pressure of lockdown.  Many are lonely.  And many others have just had way too much time to think.

And at a time when we are so much in need of coming together; we are learning – through incidents unrelated to the pandemic – how fractured we still are as communities and societies.

And that just makes this sad situation feel even sadder.

I still very much believe that there will be massive positives – globally- to come from the various struggles of 2020, which wouldn’t have been possible without them, but it feels far too early and uncomfortable to be looking at it that way just yet.  Nonetheless, it’s good to keep that in the back of our minds.

There has to be some good to come from this.

There will be some good to come from this.

Until then, I’ll be keeping myself occupied with good books, good music, online quizzes (becoming a pro – as are you – and her – and him – and them), YouTube videos about the twenty flavours of Pringles that I won’t believe exist…

…and dozens of air-hugs.

Song of the Day:  Thao & The Get Down Stay Down – Pure Cinema

Everything about this – the song, the lyrics, the video – is simply breathtaking.

 

C-19 Internal Monologues Part 8: Not Quite The Same Boat

There’s a quote going round on social media at the moment which is quite zealously dividing opinion.

David on Twitter: "If you don't come out of this quarantine with ...

 

It essentially implies that if you’re not using the lock-down period to pick up and perfect a new hobby or skill, you’re not making the best of the time.

I completely understand why some people love the quote.

And I completely understand why others hate it.

So to me, all that quote successfully achieves is to highlight that though we are all experiencing the same pandemic, how we are able to cope and react to it differs massively from person to person, and isn’t the sort of thing that can be compared or judged.  Universal standards really cannot be set on how to live your best “lockdown life”, no matter what any quote, meme or inspirational speaker has to say.

Remember back in science class, when we were taught the concept of a “fair test”?  Examining two elements to identify their differences only had value when all of the wider conditions were exactly the same, otherwise there was no point in carrying out the experiment.  The same logic applies here.

If you have been made redundant from your work, or you live alone, or perhaps you are just generally feeling a massive sense of anxiety from the pandemic, then learning a new skill or developing a hobby is a really effective coping mechanism.  It distracts your mind from the fear and the worry, and gives you a timely confidence boost.  Seeing – albeit on screen – your fellow classmates from your online language course can help you feel less alone, and composing music on an instrument might make you think that little bit more positively about the current time.

On the other hand, if you are struggling under the pressures of full time work, in services where demand is at an all-time high due to the pandemic; or you are having to juggle a job with homeschooling your children; or your living circumstances generally don’t dictate any time to focus on a new hobby, then I can also understand why instructions like this might seem like a bit of a sucker punch.  Life is much busier and manic than normal, not the opposite!

Either party may feel that the other one is better off.

Jobless people who live alone might give anything to experience the lock-down with company, or to have a job that is clearly necessary and valued when their own has been rendered just the opposite – and taken away their financial security in the process.

They’d probably trade their new skill for a salary without hesitation.

Likewise, those struggling with working overtime or having to educate their children might love to be able to have the time and facilities to be doing something good for themselves.  They probably see photos of people relaxing in the garden, or making “lasting family memories” that contrast heavily to the lack of harmony in their own homes, and start resenting their career choices or the fact they might not have as a great a relationship with their family as the people in the photos do.

They’d probably trade their career for time without hesitation.

I could go on with examples such as these; the reality is that this situation has confronted each of us with a myriad of different effects, issues and concerns.

Nobody should be made to feel that their approach is “wrong”.  This is an unprecedented situation.  There is no set of instructions to follow on how to cope with it, and there is no exam at the end from which you’ll be graded on what you did or didn’t do or learn.  The illness itself, and the social distancing, affect us all in very different ways.  Not only that, but the catastrophic, zig-zagged nature of it all make it even harder to deal with it in a consistent way.

One day you might be feeling really focused and complete a bunch of life admin and enjoy quality catch-ups with friends.  Other days you may just want to sit and sob and – as much you miss your family and friends – you simply may not have the energy to speak, even to them.

Both of those things are fine and natural.  This is not the time to have high levels of expectation.

The only approach which is universally “right” is the one which acknowledges the gravity of the situation and how it’s impacting within.  To accept that there will be up days and down days and to follow your feelings accordingly, gaining comfort from whatever you might feel at the time, whether that’s something with a clear purpose or focus, or just staring out the window counting leaves.

And to always keep in mind that it’s not the same for everybody, so perhaps think twice before believing that that meme, quote or inspirational speaker’s video will work for everybody else too.  Perhaps think twice for judging the ways in which other people are coping, and what they are choosing to do with the time, or assuming that they must have things better than you do.

We may all be experiencing the same pandemic, but the specific challenges dribbling down from it vary for us all and we are not always privy to what those are.  This is not a fair test.  To some this may seem a holiday; for others, most particularly those who have lost somebody to this horrendous virus, it’s a living hell.

Now is not the time to judge or to hold expectations; only a time to keep yourself safe, and keep an eye on those around you, as they all fight individual battles.

 

C-19 Internal Monologues Part 7: F-unfair

Recently, I haven’t felt the inclination to write as often as I did when the crisis first broke out, which I suppose is indicative that the situation has seemed to reach some kind of plateau.  We are still in lockdown and the numbers are still staggeringly high, but perhaps we are getting used to this now.  The adaptations we needed to make to our lives are becoming the “new routine”.

“Emotional roller-coaster” is a metaphor frequently used to describe the past few weeks for each of us.  There have been some very low points, but also plenty of encouraging examples of humankind and communities coming together.

Promptly followed-up by more low points.

Then more hope.

But the problem with roller-coasters, though, is that if you stay on them indefinitely, you will get dizzy, and sick.

Over thirty days into the official lock-down and myself – like many – are prone to feeling a little bit fed up.

That’s not to say we disagree with what we are doing and why we are doing it.  I would far rather remain in lock-down and get this sorted for good, than race out under a false start and experience thousands more needless deaths.

But, I am still getting a bit tired and a bit weary of being on the roller-coaster at all.  Especially when it’s one none of us needed to still be on; kept here by a mechanical fault that wasn’t inspected thoroughly enough before they opened up the fair to swathes of thrill-seekers. A failure to adhere to basic hygiene on the other side of the world, or a leaked experiment in a lab (or whatever theory you choose to believe.  My jury is out, to be honest.  All I know is that I’m extremely annoyed by whatever the source is).

Whatever you believe, this pandemic could – and should – have been avoided, and I think that is the most infuriating part about all of this.  Millions of people all over the world have sacrificed their lives, their jobs, their homes, their relationships and their mental health, for something that didn’t actually need to happen.

And I’m not sure any kind of penalty will ever be enough to atone for that.

And so yes, whilst on the whole we may be “coping”, whilst we may be keeping “strong” as we get used to our new normal, I think it’s critically important that every now and then, when we feel a little queasy from the many twists and turns, that we remind ourselves that we are experiencing a global trauma that will impact on each of us in very different ways, for years to come. And we didn’t need to be.  And so it’s perfectly okay to feel piffed off about it every now and then.  Even to cry about it.

I’m looking forward to whatever day we can finally get off this roller-coaster, and head towards something else at the fair which has much less motion.

The candyfloss stand would be perfect.

 

C-19 INTERNAL MONOLOGUES PART 6: I CAN’T WAIT

The news gets gloomier by the day.

Everything is still extremely shit and scary at the moment.  We saw a shocking figure which we thought might be our highest ever death toll per day.  And just as we were coming to terms with it, we had another few of them.  Some are saying that there’ll be more of them to come, too.  Triple figures are what we’re used to now.

Over the past few days we have also had to contend with the idea that the Prime Minister – the person upon whom we pin our hopes to navigate us through this – may not come out of intensive care (although now, since I started writing this, it’s looking more likely that he will).

Added to all of the other – ever multiplying – impacts of the pandemic, we really don’t have the brightest of backdrops at the moment, despite the sunny Easter weekend.  Unless we try and deploy some coping mechanisms, we will all cripple ourselves with fear and sadness.  I have a few coping mechanisms.  The “I can’t wait for-“ game is one, along with the “Lockdown made me crazily excited about-“ game.

They’re pretty self-explanatory titles, because lockdown is also pretty good at hanging the creative juices out to dry (ha, at least they can get out the flat for an afternoon I suppose).

I’ll probably share details of the “Lockdown made me crazily excited about-“ game when this thing has eventually passed and the items seem more ridiculous (for example, the first entry was about how excited I was to cook a swede for the first time.  It was the first time I used my new masher, too, and was the highlight of that particular Sunday) but for now, these are some of the things I can’t wait for:  

Obviously – and it’ll be the same for everyone – but I can’t wait to see my family, friends and the cat.  And to hug them as tight as I can without squeezing them to death… as that would be pretty ironic, and not the happiest reunion.

I also can’t wait until I can stroll around the town centre at leisure again, for absolutely no reason other than to swoon over the Georgian architecture and purchase a treat from a delicatessen.  A big fat caramelised onion sausage roll that tastes sweet, smoky and one hundred per cent non-essential should do it.

I can’t wait until I can go into a supermarket and eye up all the food with the freedom of time and space, and make conscientious decisions over whether to swipe left or right on particular items without having to worry about blockading the aisle.  A telltale sign of lockdown being over will be when we’re once again able to study the different flavours of KP dry roasted nut, and consider which to include among the Saturday night buffet we’re hosting for friends.  What a moment that will be.

I can’t wait until I can sit with friends in a corner of a cosy Faversham pub, laughing rapturously at something which maybe isn’t that funny, but which feels like it is in the frivolity of a “normal” day.  And somebody will return to the table with a round of drinks and packet of Scampi Fries for us all to snack on, before comparing tips on how best to fold up the empty wrapper afterwards.

I can’t wait until I’m popping open the lid of some neon treasure trove of Tupperware, whilst engaging in a colourful picnic on some freshly cut grass, on a fine Summer’s day.

I can’t wait until I’m able to drive myself into the heart of Kent and take myself on a stroll up and down some remote hills.  And immerse myself in the thrill and stinging nettles of getting lost whilst listening to some happy tunes.  And then be able sit down and sip some coffee from the thermos whilst taking in a panoramic view. For as long as I want.

I can’t wait until I’m sat on a train, whizzing somewhere beyond East Kent, sipping a large white Americano bought from the chirpy lady in the kiosk at the station, whilst watching distant fields roll by through the window.

I can’t wait until my intercom buzzes with the arrival of an actual guest (as opposed to a delivery driver).  A guest.  Who wants to come in to my flat.  And sit on the sofa.  And drink a coffee from one of my mugs.  And use the loo.
Please!  Just do as much as you want here in Chateau du ShittinghellI’veonlyhadmyselfforcompanyforthreemonthsandshe’sprettyannoying.  I might just stand in the corner maintaining 2 metres distance and stare at you in awe for the first hour, but please don’t let it make you feel uncomfortable.

I can’t wait to be able to go back to the beach and take a paddle on a Summer evening.  I think by then, I won’t even care about the uncomfortable pebbles or seaweed.  Will happily decorate myself with the latter if it means being able to swim.

I can’t wait to be able to have a polite conversation with a passing stranger in the street without it feeling entirely awkward for both of us.  To be able to look somebody in the eye whilst speaking to them, and not having to fret or worry about how far breath travels.

…Isn’t it telling that most of these are things easily taken for granted in the past?  Maybe many of us are learning that actually, we already had everything we needed.

I can’t wait to appreciate all of these things – and everything else I’m missing – again.  More than ever before.

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View of Faversham as seen during a recent one-daily-exercise.  Visible towards the right of the centre is the unmistakable lattice spire of St Mary’s parish church.