Jane resumes her Lockdown Diary – Is it a case of here we go again?
I host a gathering for my husband’s first wife (we are all very modern here!) which has been hastily renamed. ‘Barbara’s Big Birthday’ was due to be held next weekend to include socially-distanced friends various. ‘The Rule of Ten – Family only’ is the cut-down version designed to be snuck under the wire before the new regulations kick in. We still employ strategically-placed sanitiser and stay in the garden. If it had gone ahead as scheduled, even the step-grandchildren would’ve had to enter the house in shifts.
I am not against the Rule of Six – indeed it might have been sensible to bring it in earlier instead of the nebulous “stay alert” which resulted in inebriated hordes going out to breathe all over each other. But it’s a bit of a downer, just as we were beginning to kid ourselves we were getting back to “normal” (I’d had my first professional haircut in nearly seven months and been for a massage), that we are again facing restrictions. Do not get me started on the shambles of testing and the lack of mask-wearing. Let us just be thankful we’re not in the same position as those in the North-East. Yet…!
Albion Street, Broadstairs, is now closed to general traffic between the hours of 10am and 10pm. This is not a bad idea – ever since some half-wit from Highways decided to narrow the road in places, the frequent jams have been legendary – but it’s going to take some getting used to. I swing the car down there in the afternoon, as I have 73,000 times before, failing to notice that the new signs, left languishing for weeks, have finally been uncovered. I am alerted to this development by an elderly gentleman grasping an ice-cream, who leaps into the road in front of me waving his arms. Clearly a retired jobsworth or a frustrated traffic-warden, he almost drops his cornet in his excitement, as he informs me in four different breathless ways that I am not allowed to be driving there.
“It’s pedestrianised,” he says for the third time, the expression of satisfaction on his face as he jabs a finger at the sign, suggesting all his Christmases have come at once. “Thank you. I know that now, don’t I?” I say sweetly.
It is also a sweet moment when I meet friends Janice and Bill in the garden of The White Swan in Reading Street, one of my very favourite places. The three of us have not had a drink out together since early March so there is much to catch up on. “I blame Jeremy Corbyn,” I say, after a short rant about Test & Trace and a No-deal Brexit. “If he hadn’t clung on like a limpet, we might not have Boris. And if we did have Boris,” I continue, now on my second glass and warming to the theme, “he wouldn’t have such a big majority.”
“No,” says Janice, firmly. “You can’t blame him.”
“I can,” I reply.
“Yes actually,” she says, “you just have.”
The table in the far corner have already mentioned Christmas. I am astonished at how people are over-exercised by this, fretting about how many hapless relatives they’ll be able to squash round the festive table, when it’s not even October. Secretly I am hoping NOT that the huge family yuletide will be protected, but that by then we’ll have been upgraded to a Rule of Three.
Just as long as it’s dry enough to sit outside and the pub garden remains open.
The cat is re-christened Hannibal after the head of a mouse is found in the middle of the hall rug, laid out neatly beside its liver. Is this, I ask myself, as I set to with the Dettol, some sort of dystopian metaphor for the darker days to come? If so, and we’re off to Hell in a handcart, I’ll know exactly who to blame…