It’s week I’ve lost count of lock-down and the family is taking it in turns to have a melt-down.
First up is Grunting Teen. And to be fair to him – it is his birthday, which he was expecting to spend with friends, enjoying a nutritious KFC and the latest blockbuster. Instead he’s watching a mediocre Netflix offering with his uncool parents. His presents, ordered on over-subscribed Amazon, have yet to materialise, and the Chinese delivery service isn’t taking any more orders. So, I rustle up a cheery stir fry. Only it turns out that wilted lettuce, blackened carrot and furry tomato aren’t that cheery, even when swamped in soy sauce.
‘I’m fed up of this,’ he snaps, ‘when are things going to get back to normal?’
The Nearly-Beloved is next. He’s been doing quite well. He has his home office, which he retreats to even when the work day is over. He’s a great music fan and spends hours organising his extensive CD collection into alphabetical order. But recently he’s been wallowing in the blues.
‘I was meant to be going to a gig at the Greystones tonight,’ he sighs, ‘and the likelihood of Tramlines going ahead is slim. Not much to look forward to anymore, is there?’
Thank goodness then that I am Mrs Positivity, tasked with keeping everyone’s spirits up. ‘Look, we can’t change our situation but we can change our attitude to our situation,’ I say, proudly quoting some of my Self-Help literature, ‘in every cloud there is a silver lining, we just have to look for it, that’s all.’
And it’s true. I may have lost my income but as I’m no longer able to go out and spend anything, I’m probably breaking even. I may not be able to see friends in person, but I can meet them on Zoom. And I now know my neighbours so much better as we have a street WhatsApp group and an uplifting afternoon distance cuppa in the garden, where we play PPE ping-pong, hitting the latest death figures back and forwards over the fence.
I have altered my mindset so that I no longer consider myself to be in quarantine but on a luxurious writing and meditation retreat. And okay, there are no helpful instructors or yoga sessions by the infinity pool. But the Nearly-Beloved takes positive delight in pointing out my punctuation mistakes, and Grunting Teen has me contorting myself under the basketball net. In fact, I’ve improved my shots so much, I might even try out for the Harlem Globetrotters once this is over.
To lighten the Nearly-Beloved’s mood I buy him a harmonica and practice book online. On reflection this might have been a huge mistake as the neighbourhood cats join in with his first discordant attempts. But eventually a tune becomes distinguishable and, should the economic crisis hit his job, then at least he’ll be able to bag a busking spot on Fargate.
As for Grunting Teen, he gradually resigns himself to the status quo. He finishes his school work by lunchtime and spends the afternoon honing his skills as an Olympic gaming champion.
And in the evenings, we spend quality, cultural, family time, watching the entire Marvel series in chronological order. How lucky I am that there are so, so, so many in the series that an extension of quarantine would not bother me in the slightest.
And okay, I can’t participate in the popcorn and snacks as my wisdom tooth is playing up and the dentist can only offer me the choice of warm, salty water or a full-on extraction… But that’s okay. I can keep a svelte, lock-down figure and numb the pain with vodka.
You see, my retreat has turned me Zen and nothing can alter my peaceful state. When, in the unlikelihood of any imminent opening of hair salons, the Nearly-Beloved offers to trim my unruly fringe, I agree with no second thoughts. I mean, just a little snip here and there, so I can finally see again. What could possibly go wrong?
‘Et, voila, Madame!’ my stylist says with deep satisfaction, ‘not bad if I say so myself.’
But unfortunately, the jagged, butchered look is not à la mode this season. My turn for a melt-down…