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Living some way from the front line

During a chat with a member of the Rust’s editorial team the other day he revealed that he had become the equivalent of terminally bored with the coronavirus crisis. I could instantly sympathise with where he was coming from, not least because the effects of Covid-19 so dominate the newspapers and broadcast media that most other subjects barely justify an “And now finally …” box of small grouped-together paragraphs on the bottom of the proverbial back page.

Furthermore, an unwritten tablet of stone for contributors to this organ is that our purpose is not strictly to report upon and/or record what is happening in the world – it is assumed the world of professional journalism is discharging that responsibility – but instead to seek out unusual, personal or bizarre angles upon the world we observe.

All the above acknowledged, I find myself becoming occasionally exasperated or frustrated during the current lockdown by the actions of others – and yesterday was a case in point.

As usual, I began my conscious day between midnight and 1.00am and stayed up long enough to nip down the road to collect my newspapers from the nearby supermarket which opens at 7.00am. I then made myself a poached egg on toast, a glass or orange juice with a shot of expresso coffee to follow – and then flicked through my newspaper in front of the television before retiring to my bedroom for a hoped-for nap before rising to face the day mid-morning.

As it happened, I had nothing in my diary and therefore on the face of it a day in which I could pretty much please myself.

It’s a rare pleasure, of course, and in my view one to be treasured when it happens: one could get not only used to, but comfortable with, a state of permanent lockdown should one ever be imposed upon us.

My perfect day yesterday lasted less than ten minutes.

First, when I switched on my smartphone, I discovered that since going to bed the night before I had received three ‘missed calls’ which had turned into three voicemail messages.

One was from my nemesis in my apartment block – a busybody in his seventies who has so little going for him in his excruciating little life that he spends most of his day hanging round in public spaces hoping to fall into a conversation with someone or – if that ruse fails – invents a reason as to why he urgently needs to consult with me on some (any) trifling matter … a device which – if I feel honour bound to engage with it – always takes at least double the time it need because he never fails to deploy twenty words (along with two tangential gossipy stories) where just one would have sufficed. And invariably bores me to death.

The second was from some chap who wants to arrange a pub lunch in the Midlands near where he lives to discuss a future continental battlefield group tour, a  scheme that would involve me in an outing of between six and seven hours’ duration all-in when (as an alternative) we could quite happily “do the business” on the phone or by email.

The third was a mildly critical call/message from another local bore who I met by chance a couple of years ago and whom I meet as infrequently as possible for a pub lunch, always at his instigation. ‘Mildly critical’ because he was following up an earlier phone call/voicemail message in which he tried to engage with me … to which I had both failed to respond and completely forgotten about.

Ho hum.

None of these people did I feel like disturbing my hitherto “complete free day” for, partly because (I estimated) each contact I made with them would take (on average) at least 30 minutes.

Contacting all three would therefore be yet another hour and a half of my life that I would never get back – and at my age I haven’t got that many ‘90 minute’ periods left to fritter away.

I therefore decided to answer just one – the one complaining about my lack of response to a message previously left. I thus began tapping out an email doing so …

And was then interrupted by a phone call from my son who lives abroad.

We had a twenty-minute conversation before the real purpose of his contact emerged. He wanted me to find his new driving licence and send images of both sides of it to him via WhatsApp. After we’d finished speaking, executing his request took me another twenty minutes – so in total that was another forty minutes of my life lost – and at that point I had to go back out across the road to buy some provisions.

Could you believe this?

Laden down, upon returning to my apartment block, of all things I found Mr Nemesis actually waiting outside my flat, lurking there in order to try and find out why I hadn’t yet responded to his phone call requesting a meeting.

Could he come in for a chat now?

No, he couldn’t.

I was far too busy, and anyway I didn’t want anyone coming into my flat whilst I was seeking to live in splendid isolation in case they gave me the virus.

Amid all the brave stories of those who have embraced positivity and found inventive ways of occupying themselves during this lockdown – e.g. via social media group calls, little videos they post online or brand new fitness campaigns courtesy of Mr Joe Wicks and/or cookery courses under the guidance of any number of celebrity chefs – there have been just a few of us who were rather looking forward to being locked down and away from the world … and (more importantly) bothered by nobody.

Never mind those Covidiots who have ignored the Government’s lockdown rules from the outset and/or those who are ‘making the best of it’ during this difficult time, what about those of us who have been bemoaning the fact that the Government has singularly failed to impose the strictest possible lockdown and enforce its rules by martial law if necessary?!



About Arthur Nelson

Looking forward to his retirement in 2015, Arthur has written poetry since childhood and regularly takes part in poetry workshops and ‘open mike’ evenings. More Posts