Thinking Aloud On a Sunday

Loss Of Contact.

It made a nice change today to wake up thinking about something other than a virus.

I was actually thinking about people I once knew well, and have not seen in half a lifetime. Starting with someone I called my ‘best mate’ for all of nine years, until he got married, and moved away. I last went to see him in 1980. Since then, some Christmas cards, but never a phone call either way. I can remember the times we shared as schoolfriends and into our late teens as if they were yesterday. But when I see his face in my mind, he is still only 18 years old. Forty years have passed sine we met, and it is likely the next contact will be made when one of us dies.

Cousins that I used to spend most weekends with, go on summer holidays with. Some not seen now for twenty years, and their children don’t even know who I am. One moved to Canada. Is he still there? What happened in his life? I have no idea, because ‘Merry Christmas’ on a card tells me nothing. Does he ever think about me at all? I was his older cousin who he met at our grandmother’s house. I went to his older sister’s wedding, but the last time I met his younger sister, she asked who I was, and how I was related to her.

Splits in families will do that. You tend to pick a side, like it or not. And because my dad left my mum, we picked her side. By the time we tried to resume contact and build bridges, it was too late. Life had passed by like traffic on a motorway. I was a face on a photo that nobody recognised.

Work colleagues, male and female, can often become great friends. But if the girls get married, what if their husband is jealous of your closeness, suspectng something else? You do the decent thing. Step away. Give them a chance. And what if your male friend marries someone who doesn’t like you, or you can’t stand them. Do you hang around and cause friction? No, you disappear.

I sat up in bed thinking about all the people I had once been very close to, and had not seen since. I stopped counting at fifteen, then added the more distant relatives to arrive at a total. Twenty? Thirty? I am sure it must be more than that, if I think harder.

In an age where communication has never been so widespread, or more instant, it seems no easier to keep in touch.

Thinking Aloud On a Sunday

What if I die?

I had a disturbed sleep last night. No doubt the coronavirus was on my mind, as I was still thinking about it when I woke up this morning. And about one aspect in particular, what would happen if I was to contract the virus, and die.

Recovery rates in my age group are still low, and if I get the symptoms, there is the possibility that I could be dead within less than a week, perhaps even in just three days. Don’t get me wrong. I am not panicking about it, and not even greatly concerned. If it happens, there’s little I can do to change that.

So should I be planning for that possibility? Making some sort of arrangements, compiling lists, and contacting people I might never see or talk to again? It’s a ‘just in case’ situation, I know, but if I am suddenly struck down, it will be too late then.

One of my friends has my password for WordPress, so should be able to let all my fellow bloggers know I have gone. But what of everything else? All those small ‘administration’ details that never really enter most of our heads.

I don’t have a lot of savings, and the only life insurance I have will pay for my funeral, and leave some change. Julie would have to apply to receive half of my work pensions, and a State widow’s pension. With her part-time job, she might be able to afford to stay on in the house, as it is already paid for. But the regular bills never go down, so there are Council Tax, Water Rates, Electricity, Heating Oil, and regular maintenance to consider. She might well do better to sell up, downsize, and stash a good lump of equity to help in the future.

Then what would she do with my car? It is 13 years old, and expensive to run. She might be able to give it away to one of her family, or sell it for a small amount. Her car is much newer, but has a lot less room for Ollie.

Yes, Ollie is a huge consideration. She will have to change her routine to take him for walks, and cope with him expecting me to come home at any moment.

She doesn’t know the access code for my new PC. Not that she is interested in using it, but even if she gave it away, she would need the code. Perhaps I should write it down for her? And she is never sure what day the bins go out, as I always do that. Should I start a notebook, with all this stuff jotted down? Leave her the contact numbers for the plumber, electrician, and anyone else I usually contact? It seems to me that I should create a ‘Just in case’ notebook, with all sorts of things written down.

Then there is the funeral situation. She already knows that I want a basic funeral, with no religious element. She might even remember the two songs I wanted to be played. But given current conditions, the funeral would be quick, and almost nobody allowed to attend. So maybe that doesn’t need to go in the notebook at all.

The more I think about it, the more small details need to be recorded. Where I keep the key for the electric meter cupboard, how to check the amount of heating oil in the tank, and who to email to order more. When the boiler has to be serviced, where I keep the tiny spare lightbulbs for the bedroom lamps, and so many other silly small things that we take for granted.

Seems to me that dying takes a lot of preparation.

Days

The lockdown has gone on a long time, and is fast becoming ‘normal life’ here. We have at least another two weeks, if not more, and I think that’s a good thing. If not for the economic fallout once we return to the way we lived previously, it might be a good idea to keep this going until at least October, to reduce new infections. That is unlikely to happen, as no industrialised country can tolerate such a loss to production and trade.

On the bright side, I have not received a single unsolicited telesales call since this happened.

Many people have not been in lockdown of course, and their routine has not changed. Medical staff, delivery drivers, shop workers, bus and train drivers, and the behind the scenes people like those who work in sewage and garbage, water plants, and power generation companies.

For all of those, today is another Monday morning.

But for everyone else, it is just a ‘Day’.

A huge number of people are discovering what I found out when I retired in 2012. Days are a construction of working life. I suspect that ancient people thought nothing of days, and didn’t name them until modern civilisations emerged. The only relevance a named day has is to know whether or not you have to go to school, to work, to a hospital appointment, or expect to receive a delivery. Whether a shop is open or closed, or a specific TV programme is being shown.

For my dog Ollie, there is no such thing as a Day. Nor for the animals on the African plains, the birds in the air, or the flies hovering above the river in Beetley.

Days don’t actually exist. They are a human invention.

The same applies to months and years of course. There are only seasons.
A product of nature, not mankind.

And human interference has changed those too.

Thinking Aloud On a Sunday

Running late.

I woke up late today, really late. Not that long ago in fact.

After another sleep of almost twelve hours, I jumped out of bed feeling like it was late afternoon. I still don’t know if this sleepiness is something to do with the virus, my age, or cumulative stress over all that is happening.
But whatever the cause, I am certainly missing almost five hours of my morning routine already.

My mind seems to have snapped out of the reverie that has occupied it recently. I have a book to read and review, promised to a magazine ten days ago, with a deadline by the end of the month. I have to get that done, as I hate to let people down.

Eating breakfast so late makes it lunch instead, and I am aware that before I know it, Ollie will need to go out for his long walk.

Even when you have ‘nothing to do’, it feels like you are spending the whole day catching up, and hurtling toward preparing dinner, followed by going to bed. I am only out of bed for a short time so far today, yet I can already visualise the moment when I will be climbing back into it.

Unusually for me, I forgot what I was thinking about when I woke up. Instead of a clear recollection, I only have snippets remaining. Like seeing the trailer of a film you forgot you had watched years ago. It was definitely something vivid, as I can see the face of the person I was talking to, someone I knew very well at one time. But I cannot put us in the time and place that was vivid in my mind at the moment I woke up.

For some reason, wanting to remember that feels very important to me today.

The sun is out, and it is not long until midday here. Sunday is half gone already, and I am concerned about remembering a dream.

That is so like me, it’s familiar, but scary.

Covid-19: Thinking Aloud On Easter Sunday

A Virus is NOT Bacteria.

Hard to think about much else these days, though I am trying my best, with some reblogs and short-story fiction.

When the panic-buying started, some of the many things to disappear from the shops – alongside toilet paper – were the Antibacterial sprays used for cleaning surfaces. The shelves were empty of them, including the brand leader that claims to kill “99.9% of all known germs”.

Last time I went to the supermarket, a young man was handing out the trolleys inside the entrance, after first spraying some antibacterial spray onto a cloth that he gave each shopper to use to clean the trolley handles before they entered the aisles. I used it as instructed, then threw the cloth into the bin provided. But I felt the need to advise him of something before I began shopping.

“Thanks, but this is a virus, not bacteria or a germ. Antibacterial sprays will not kill this virus, anymore than they will kill the ‘Flu virus, or the common cold. If they did, nobody would ever need to catch the ‘Flu, or a cold. Just so you know”.

He looked at me as if I had slapped him around the face.

“Sorry sir, but I just do as I am told. If you don’t wipe down the handles, you can’t be allowed in to go shopping”. I felt sorry for him, as he couldn’t have been much older than 17. I pointed through the window to the car park, where people were returning trolleys to the small sheds, and others taking them and walking across to the front of the shop, pushing them. “Too late for them. They have already touched a trolley used by someone else, before you tell them they have to wipe the handles with one of your cloths. See what I mean?”

He didn’t. “Please move on, sir, there are people behind you”.

**Please remember** This is NOT a bacterial infection, it is a viral infection. Antbacterial sprays are good for keeping surfaces clean, and smell nice too. But they will NOT kill off the Covid-19 virus.

You need something with either a high concentration of alcohol, or something that is very soapy. Like washing-up liquid, or liquid hand soap.

Please stay safe.

Thinking Aloud On a Sunday

Had enough.

I woke up early with painful leg cramp this morning, and couldn’t get back to sleep. It is a warm and sunny day, but I couldn’t care less.

I am moany, grumpy, and fed up to my back teeth.

Still tired and sleepy, despite twice as much sleep as normal. Exhausted from doing very little, and zero enthusiasm to do more.

The PC and keyboard problems are stopping me being able to comfortably write my serial, so by the time that is back again, I expect everyone will have lost track of it.

And to add to that, my comments are failing to appear on at least a dozen sites.

I should be excited about a new computer arriving next week, but I’m not in the least. More tech to struggle with, at a time when I feel little inclination to do anything of the kind.

I have a noise in my left ear that sounds like the tide coming in, and a niggling headache that won’t seem to go away.

Fed up doesn’t even begin to cover it.

I have had enough.

Sorry, but all that just had to come out.

Thinking Aloud on A Sunday

Young Love.

I woke up thinking about my first crushes on girls today.

I started young, aged just 11. That was undoubtedly precipitated by going to a mixed secondary school at exactly the same time as I started to realise that girls were not just annoying versions of boys who just happened to be unable to pee against a wall.

And we had to sit next to them in class too, as the teachers mixed up the ratios to reduce the natural cheekiness and disruption caused by some boys sitting together. Close up like that, they looked different, and smelled different too. They smelled good. Even with the allowed amount of ‘school’ make-up, some of them started to look really good too. Most of them, truth be told. And they wore unifrorm skirts back then. And it was the 1960s, so some of those skirts were very short. And they no longer wore droopy long socks that kept falling down, Oh no, they had nylon-clad legs that made a swishing sound when they crossed them.

And some of the girls I was sat next to crossed them a lot.

But I was still too young to actually tell a girl that I thought she was pretty. And much too young to let on that I might also have found her sexually attractive. I had to suffer in silence for a year, as I watched their breasts begin to appear, and their confidence grow until they became bolder than any of the boys.

Meanwhile, I transferred my attention to the female teachers, and not just the young ones.

Did they really have to sit on the desk like that? Were they unaware that I could see right up their skirt when they did? And why did so much of their teaching activity require them to bend so low from the waist? God forbid I put my hand up to mention I was having difficulty with something. That would involve her crouching next to my seat at the desk, with her skirt riding up to the tops of her thighs, and the view down her top leaving my legs trembling uncontrollably.

I seemed to spend my days with my gaze constantly switching from looking at any ‘opportunities’ provided by the teacher, to the legs of the girl sat next to me every time I heard that tell-tale ‘swish’. It was like being in the audience on Centre Court at Wimbledon during finals weekend. And woe betide that crossed leg should find itself coming to rest against my grey trousers. Concentration was impossible after that.

It was a wonder I actually learned anything.

When I was twelve and a half, I was approached by a girl from my class who I had hardly thought about. I won’t write her real name, just in case, so let’s call her Ann. She told me that she had decided I could be her boyfriend, so I should walk her home after school and her parents would not be home from work until six. I almost passed out, as I had never encountered such forward behaviour. More importantly, I had no idea what she was expecting me to do in her house that afternoon.

For the rest of that day, Ann held my hand between classes, and made sure to tell her group of friends that I was her boyfriend. During lunch, she asked if I had told my own mates that I had a girlfriend. When I told her I hadn’t, she shook her head. “Are you ashamed of me then?” I tried to explain that I had only known that fact myself since she had told me it earlier, but she wasn’t impressed. “I am thinking of calling off our date then. Wait for me after school, and I will tell you what I’ve decided”. I learned a valuable lesson at that moment.

Whatever I might have thought to the contrary, the girls were in charge.

Ann was by the gate at going home time, and took my hand. The spat from earlier wasn’t mentioned, and we made the short walk to her house with her talking constantly about everything we could do together now that we were a couple. Like going shopping on Saturdays, trips to the cinema, and summer days in the local park. She had obviously thought a lot about our future.

As she reached for her keys, she asked me a question, her expression serious.. “How many girlfriends have you had?” I replied honestly. “None, I’m only twelve”. Her wide grin indicated that I had given the correct answer. “Me neither. No boyfriends that is”.

Once in the hallway, she kicked off her shoes and began kissing me passionately. I remember thinking of two words, ‘warm’, and ‘wet’. This was juvenile kissing between two complete novices. Lips rubbing against each other as she made a sound like a chimp eating an orange. To my surprise and consternation, she led me straight up to her bedroom, telling me to take off my shoes and blazer, and lay down on her candlewick bedspread. I had no idea what she intended to do with me.

What she actually did is fixed in stone in my memory. Hitching up her uniform skirt, she straddled my hips, and leaned forward, enagaging in more of that very slippery kissing as she held my head between her palms in a vice-like grip. When she stopped to get her breath, sounding like a free-diver emerging from the ocean floor, she held my right hand against her chest, pushing it flat over her apple-sized breast. In case I might actually know what to do next, she issued a warning. “Only through my clothes, and only for as long as I say”.

The combination of continuing to be kissed from above whilst squeezing a real boob was bad enough. Add to that her nylon clad thighs gripping my hips with the skill of a professional wrestler, and it was inevitable that I would become ‘aroused’. I prayed that she wouldn’t notice, but my prayers fell on deaf ears. She sat back and stared at the tiny pup tent in my trousers. Her expression changed, and she took my hand off of her chest.

“None of that stuff, thank you. I’m too young to have a baby. I think you’d better go home now”.

As she let me out of the front door, she gave me the bad news.

“Oh, by the way. You’re not my boyfriend anymore”.