Be that as it may, two weeks on from my last post, things feel quite a lot different, mainly in terms of the degree of resigned acceptance I feel about the situation. I guess people in actual prison must go through a very similar thought process - or the bereaved, indeed. Whereas before, my main objection to the restrictions was the isolation from friends, I have since become something of a born again hermit, and the thought of a zoom party featuring headshots of a dozen people (or however many you can fit onto a screen) would feel like a surreal surfeit of stimulation. I am okay with phone calls, but I would find the sight of even someone's head and shoulders strangely overwhelming at this point, and that's not even because of the dire 'wild woman' state of my own hair, hehe. No, I sense I have shifted down several gears, such that occasionally bumping into people - or even more occasionally arranging to drop off food with someone I gaily construe as 'elderly' if they are more or less my age(!), and potentially also 'vulnerable' once they have eaten my cooking ;) - is proving a busy enough form of social life. I am frankly amazed I have got to this point, and perhaps the tide will turn, and I will crave tangible company again.
|Police poster on the ground - now technically litter!|
Now I don't know about you, but in the absence of face-to-face contact I have been receiving a disproportionate number of emails, messages and texts compared to normal times, many from more distant family and friends, whom the current crisis has galvanised into action. On any given day I owe about ten replies by various media, and this surge in communications is causing an unexpected feeling of pressure I didn't foresee, even though I know this 'reaching out'(!) is well-intentioned, and I am grateful for people's concern. Moreover, each person who writes to me is of course unaware that I am receiving a number of similar inquiries. The fact of the matter is that I only tend to call my elderly friend, which backs up my hunch that I may be getting used to the solitary life.
Coincidentally, there is a beautiful creeper-clad hermitage in Tollymore Forest, Co Down, where my brother and I spent many happy childhood holidays (our parents had a caravan just outside the park). Years ago I decided that I wanted my ashes to be scattered in the Shimna River right below the hermitage. My brother has opted for a spot upstream of me with an architecturally interesting bridge and the added benefit of being a more discreet location for this surreptitious act to be carried out - with it being a national park, I mean. So there's further oblique confirmation of my hermit credentials.
Yes, the social isolation is bothering me less than it was, but meanwhile I can't wait to see my dentist, osteopath and hairdresser again - about my holey molar, sprained foot and pelvis, and mad mane of hair respectively! I am also quietly hopeful that an enterprising tree surgeon will swing by tomorrow to empty my bin of green waste, so that I can get on with gardening.
Though the loneliness may have receded, I remain moderately worried about catching the virus, especially after seeing a programme on survivors. One familiar face featured was Linda Lusardi, who got the illness quite badly and ended up in hospital with complications. When she sought reassurance from a nurse that she would make it, he was rather equivocal and said: "Hmm..well, it's hard to say - you are 61 after all, and this thing is brand new." (I am paraphrasing.) Having seen recent photos of the former Page 3 model, I must say she is looking tremendous for her age, which may have helped her recovery. However, the fact that someone so vital and relatively young in my terms could fall so ill does give you pause.
The other thing that I'd be interested to know about the lockdown is whether you have found yourself doing new things, sometimes without any conscious decision to do so. Here's a round up of the ones I have noticed recently:
- Drinking hot water and lemon first thing (I have it in my head that this is good for detoxing the liver from all those Cadbury's Mini-Eggs)
- Sleeping longer and deeper (this is completely abnormal!)
- A three hour bike ride, not by design. Good - and God - deed for the day was alerting the vicar of Sandon church to the fact that his security alarm was going off. "There probably isn't a burglar inside", I said to allay his fears of a break in. "My money's on a bat." Hmm, maybe that wasn't the best way to reassure him.
- Ongoing unprecedented levels of cooking. Ex-Mr Bonkers has just come to the door and collected a tupperware of vegetable curry I set aside for him on the step. He took one look at my hair - he hasn't seen me for a month or two - and said: "Just accept you are going grey!" Ha!
- Using the downstairs shower (to mix up my ablution routine - gotta get your kicks where you can!)
- Applying hand cream (a lifetime first, which is doubtless related to the copious amounts of hand washing we are all engaged in)
The hand cream in question was given to me ages ago by fellow blogger Sabine, which goes to show how long-kept items can suddenly come into their own. Its realistic mimosa scent - cheery and uplifting in that distinctive sherbety way - reminded me of my first misguided purchase of niche perfume over ten years ago in Paris...L'Ete en Douce from L'Artisan Parfumeur, which Luca Turin so aptly described as "laundry musk on steroids" (I'm paraphrasing here too). The sad fact is that I was hesitating on that occasion between L'Ete en Douce and Mimosa pour Moi, and bitterly regret not opting for the latter. I think I did eventually manage to swap the musky miscreant for something I only wanted marginally more(!), but the memory of Mimosa pour Moi still haunts me...And for now, this Swedish hand cream is a fair substitute.
Ah dear, it seems to be discontinued, judging by the company's website.
PS I have been wearing perfume every now and then when I am in the mood and remember: Serge Lutens Un Lys, Guerlain Lys Soleia, Kenzo Eau de Fleur de Magnolia, original Vera Wang (worn ironically, obvs) and something I fished out from my sample box which just says 'Guerlain' on the vial, but which may in fact be Encens Mythique.