The old year ended quite well as I was one of the lucky 500,000 to get vaccinated. Living in London has its advantages. Dose two is yet to be given. I have no no idea when but am assured I will be called about the new date and meantime things should be fine.
The new one, however, has not started well. Lockdown is getting increasingly more tedious – the broadcasters are always coming up with people who have taken up hobbies and finding joy in pursuing them but I can play the piano, I can paint, I can knit, I can do tapestry, I can cook, I can bake, I do take an online exercise class, I have an impressive collection of classic films to watch on dvd to which I am adding – eBay is a treasure trove – crochet is a step too far, as is making model airplanes.
In the face of what is happening to some people all this is trivial, but that is how it is. As for breaking the rules and going somewhere, there is nowhere open to go to and it is much too cold to walk in the park for any length of time. So, like everybody, one watches television, but, good though my set is, I do not have all sorts of channels and I dislike watching programmes on my laptop.
The day's highlights are those interminable Antiques Road Trip
programmes in which people buy things to sell at auction nobody in their right mind would want – all profits to Children in Need – and Four in a Bed
in which people who run B&Bs brag about their full English breakfasts in order to get a plaque which would ensure I never darkened their doors.
How do people manage to find hairs in beds? The only time that happened to me was in Istanbul when, warned in advance about Turkish hotels, I looked at the bed and slept in my travelling dressing gown. Next day, I went out – I was only staying two nights – and returned to find sparkling white starched sheets. They had not done the room. Just what the Turks thought of this grubby foreigner who had slept in somebody else's sheets I have no idea, but I did learn one thing – get on the phone and summon the manager. Language is no barrier. But maybe the Four in a Bed
participants, some of whom charge an amazing amount of money for rooms with too many cushions on the bed, cannot get past the TV crew filming them. Trivial TV, if compulsive viewing, both shows help pass the time until that vaccine rollout is achieved.
I've been meaning to write for a while now, but the time has just run away from me. Where to start… My life has turned upside down over what feels like the entirety of the last year, days have run into weeks and weeks into months as I have struggled with the profound, perhaps even irreversible alterations to my life.
It all started around mid-March last year when my entire world seemed to change overnight. I have always had a happy go lucky approach to my life. I like nothing better than a nice bracing walk with my companions, exploring new places, taking in the changing scenery as nature segues through the seasons. I love my own space, to rest to play, to marvel at the beauty and wonderment I see before me every single day of my existence. Though no-one who even thinks they know me could possibly hazard any kind of accurate guess of what is going on within my head, my thought process, the dreams I may hold dearly, the daily hazards that scare me, the emotions I harbour within my own private world.
These things are impenetrable to nigh on every single other being. Yes, they may think they know me, but they can only ever know what I am prepared to allow them to. Only what I reveal, only on my terms and only as I see fit. In my life, others I acknowledge and pass time with on a regular basis may know my name, but that is the sole depth of their knowledge. They do not possess an intimate understanding or even comprehension of who I am and what makes me the being that exudes life. Yes, I am recognised in the street and yes, I am known by the label that is a name, though given to me by others, it is not mine to own, but simply to respond to. Put simply, I exist in relation to other's acknowledgement and recognition of me.
I am and was happy to exist in this way, however, everything has changed dramatically, things are less joyful, the world appears to be less colourful, laughter is no longer on everyone’s lips. It seems we are in bleak times, with little in the way of any respite from these negative experiences. The days are dark I know and the daylight hours are stinted. We must grab what pleasure we can from them as we look towards spring and then further to what will hopefully be a more positive and sanguine summer and beyond.
In the meantime, I will continue to walk, to explore, to forage, to eke out any adventure I can as we endure the dark winter. I promise to make the most of the unusual hand I have been dealt, face head on the challenges of our straitened times and try to remain as positive as I am physically and mentally able to… after all what else is a dog to do?
Daisy The labradoodle
(companion of Frank Eardley)
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