A doddery week

I was heartened listening to a 20 year old on Radio 4 this week as I fretted my way up an increasingly busy motorway, concerned that I might not get to work on time (remember those days?) and heartily fed up that all my friends seem to have managed to book hair appointments.   When asked by the presenter what she would tell her grandchildren about these Days of Covid, the student replied, ‘I will probably just say it was fine and that we didn’t moan at all.’

This response came at the end of an interview to canvas the response of young people to Rishi Sunak’s ‘kickstart’, warm economic hug announcements the day before.  The three young people being interviewed were all clearly impacted by lockdown  – looking for jobs in theatre, needing an apprenticeship to restart and a furlough to end – yet all were relentlessly cheerful.  Not one of them was ready to dine out on self-pity even if they could afford Rishi’s meal deal.  I felt suitably chastened and vowed to wind my inner whinge back in before loved ones start requiring a 10 metre + rule if I insist on meeting up.

Time to ramp up the Pollyanna approach  – if only I followed the advice in my own blogs, this approach wouldn’t feel so rusty.  Here goes:

  • I am delighted for my friends that they have managed to get a hair cut.  I am even more thrilled that they have all taken the time to update their profile pictures so that we can all see the end result.  I love these before and after photos – Reggie Kray to Elle McPherson in one social media streak.

    By having to wait longer for my own hair appointment, I can ensure that I am fully prepped in the new Covid hairdressing etiquette – take two masks just in case the hairdresser cuts through the first one apparently, and simply flip the mask up over your eyes when they crack out the hairspray.

    By the way, I am also equally delighted for all my male work colleagues on the hair front; when I eventually managed to battle through the motorway last Monday (bless those pesky rubber-neckers, it is only natural to slow down to get a good look at a car prang) it was sooo lovely to see all the men folk had successfully caught up with their barber over the weekend, ditched their crocs and were now back wearing suits and aftershave. I quickly reversed into my office hoping that my jeans/sweatshirt combo, dark roots and split ends might pass unnoticed.

  • I am thrilled that the heavens opened for the second time that my Be Military Fit ladies and I managed to rendevouz for our second alfresco meeting of Lockdown.  The invite said, ‘bring nibbles and drink’ so we did and, as a huge black cloud decided to dump its contents on us just as we arrived in asocially distanced garden, we felt justified in huddling conspiratorially – if not quite 2 m apart – under a large patio umbrella. We may have undone all the benefits of virtual exercise, but I still maintain that a bag of Percy Pigs is washed down very nicely with a bottle of Fizz.

    I love these ladies.  I have missed seeing them ‘in the flesh’ twice a week and even this weather couldn’t dampen the delight of seeing them out of their gym kit and out of Zoom distance. By the end of the evening, not only have we discussed starting up a BMF book club but we have also been introduced to two very friendly guinea pigs and made a tour of our host’s vegetable garden  – this leads to a new piece of information that we may never have learnt had it not been raining; a country name for a snail is a Hoddyman Dod.  I leave with a spring in my squelchy shoes and only one of us fails to dial in for Zoom boot camp next morning at 6am (I think she may still be dozing in a very accommodating hammock).

  • I am thrilled that my car has finally given up the ghost and even happier that she decided to heave her last breath just as I joined the motorway from the slipway.  Standing on the safe side of the motorway barrier, her demise gave me ample opportunity to reflect on our journeys together over the last 10 years, and how lucky I was to have an umbrella in the car.  The umbrella was useless against the squalling spray of the lorries hurtling past but my wetness and very long wait allowed me to find my inner metal when the RAC man arrived and felt it useful to tell me that, ‘I shouldn’t have taken my car onto the motorway’.

    Anyway my inner Pollyanna can acknowledge that Mavis dying in this unseemly and public fashion has kickstarted me in a way that even Rishi could not have managed, charming though he is.  A new car is now on order and I was so thrilled to have the salesman recommend that I take paintwork insurance on the basis that, ‘I seem to have a track record with scratches’.

  • I am delighted that Bojo can not seem to make his mind up about masks: on trains, yes; on school buses no;  in shops, maybe and in schools, who has a clue what September will look like? I am just pleased that Boris is allowing us to make the decisions for him while he gets on on with tricky stuff like getting his hair cut and advising us all to lose weight at the same time as eating out more.  This man has a lot on on his plate so I hope he has heard about the meal deal.

So, as I brace myself for the last week of term, I aim to live up to the line I will spin when  my grandchildren get round to asking me about Mama J in the Time of Corona. (Please, I don’t yet have grandkids, I am just blue sky thinking).

‘Although I don’t like to say it, cherubs, I think many of my friends looked to me as a beacon of calmness and hope in troubled times.  I could be a bit of a Hoddyman Dod about sourdough making, mastering macrame and murder mystery on Zoom – and you will not find many photos of me in this period because my hairdresser chose to forsake me after 30 years (pause for a sigh)  – but I was a regular Pollyanna when it came to just getting on with it. I saw no point in complaining.  Who is Pollyanna?  Don’t your parents teach you anything?’


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