On Sunday evening my other half, G, came down with a fever. Following government advice, we set about self-isolating – G for the subsequent seven days, myself for the following 14. This is our story.
AM – This is amazing! No commute, no delays, no need for e0xcuses for tardiness, no tardiness at all – in fact, I’m in work early! Bang on the hour I’m sat with my glass of wine cup of coffee, my new work attire on (dressing gown and pyjamas held together by the load-bearing stains that society tries to tell me I should wash off – well take that society, all rules are off the table now!), and my laptop not only open but turned on, and my emails already read through! I’m pretty much Employee of the Month!
PM – Just finished watching The Godfather trilogy. I’ve decided to abandon my quest for Employee of the Month, as being lazy and watching TV seemed more appealing and easier to achieve.
On the plus side, I feel like I nailed it. On the downside, jeez, The Godfather – what a load of over-egged tripe! That’s about a billion hours of my life I’ll never get back. Anyway, time to send one email to my boss about something arbitrary so it looks like I’ve been hard at it all day. Hmm, maybe Employee of the Month isn’t out of reach after all…
AM – Still loving this “working” from home malarkey. I’ve never been so relaxed about my work. I think my accidental nine-hour TV binge yesterday was a mere blip. Today I will be a picture of strictness and self-discipline – I’ll only watch two movies. Or a trilogy, but only if each film is under two-and-a-half hours.
PM – Just finished watching the entire Police Academy franchise. Now that was 10 and a half hours well spent! Although it hit peak form at PA4, Citizens on Patrol. By the seventh one, Mission to Moscow, some dry patches had slipped in. My summation is that, over time, the characters became too much of a mishmash collective that confused the relationships and clouded their winning dramaturgical dyads that made them- OK, I really need to get back to work. That’s it, tomorrow I buckle down! (No more than two movies). P.S. Also, they should never have written out Sweetchuck after Citizens.
AM – I did it! A whole morning spent working. Well, I say working. Not watching movies anyway. (Ok, one movie). But after the movie (and a couple of sitcoms) I was straight down to work! Unfortunately, the neighbours’ kid is making a repeated thumping noise, like he’s running up and down the stairs. I’d heard it at the back of my brain somewhere, but hadn’t fully registered it (or been able to hear it over all the TV). Now it’s pushed its way to the front of my conscience and has been identified, it’s all I can hear and all I can think of. I can’t concentrate on anything but this infernal racket! I know I shouldn’t be annoyed, it’s a minor thing, but small things are taking on greater significance now. Mind you, I’ve tried that line with girls before, and it’s never worked.
PM – The good news: it’s not just the thudding I’m thinking of now. The bad news: it’s now also every cough from the garden of the other neighbours, every squeak of the pub opposite’s shitty, rusty pub sign as it swings, every cocksure seagull as it floats around arrogantly on the breeze, calling out to me “ooh, it’s so lovely outside, what are you doing lounging about inside?” Fuck you, seagull, come and say that to my face!
AM – I’ve made my peace with the seagulls. I conducted an Einstein-inspired thought experiment (pretty sure this was his main use for them, too) whereby I called a summit meeting between myself, representing humans, and a seagull representing those dirty maggot bastard seagulls – sorry, I’m better than that. Anyway, in this experiment we both pleaded our cases, made some good points and concessions. We decided they’ll still annoy the shit out of me, but I’ll just have to learn to take it. It could have gone better.
PM – Looking out the window, I saw a weed pick up this afternoon. Chap hopped in car, hopped out, putting pack in pocket. As a good Samaritan I naturally tried to take down the car’s number plate, but sadly missed it. I also couldn’t see which house the picker-upper went back into. Now I’ll never be able to get in touch and put in an order. Harrumph.
AM – Well, it’s the end of a long working week. After squeezing in around 20 movies (I worked overtime some days), I’ve decided to take today off. Perhaps I’ll just relax and watch a movie or something. In other news, the seagulls aren’t bothering me so much anymore. Sadly, this isn’t a result of me “leaning to take it”, it’s just that now there’s a little midgey fly bastard zig-zagging around the lounge making my blood boil. I will come up with a battle plan…
PM – Friday night approaches. The one silver lining about this whole thing is that I don’t have to make an excuse as to why I’m boring and why I’m in pyjamas before the end of Pointless, a stack of crisps within reach of my left hand, the remote control glued to my right, the usual feeling of being a grumpy old man that kicks in at this time of the week, slightly alleviated.
AM – This morning I spent over an hour doing battle with the fly. About four hours, in fact. Weapons used: one soft juggling ball as projectile – defeat; one squash racket as an épée – defeat; two flip-flops, wielded ambidextrously – score draw (a glancing blow, but the tough little shit kept goading me); one jam sandwich as a lure – heavy defeat (he waited until I went to the bathroom then pounced. I came back and saw him there, tried a panic squash but he was too quick. What an epic battle this was turning into!); spatula as secondary épée – defeat. At this point I decided it was easier to name the fly and think of him as a pet. I introduced Ian to G.
PM – Ian is dead. It was an opportunistic kill; I saw him land on the wall right next to me whilst reading. Before I knew it, the book was flush against the wall, a stain forever on page 182. It’s also a kill that scares me: am I like Matt Damon in The Bourne Identity? If I can turn so readily on a beloved pet, if my reflexes are so cat-like that they overrule my heart, then is anyone I love really safe? An increasingly despairing G tells me, yes. But I’m not so blasé, I fear she may be in mortal danger.
AM – I’m still wrestling with the knowledge that I’m probably a trained killer without knowing it. I think my trigger phrase must have been uttered and it’s unlocked the assassin in me, as suddenly I’m seeing the hidden danger in random objects around the house: a huge wooden club, a large kitchen knife, a hand-held axe. I instantly know how each can be used as a weapon. How do I know this stuff? It’s frightening.
PM – I suggested I should be chained to a dungeon wall for the remainder of my incarceration, but my pleas fell on deaf ears. I was also reminded that we don’t have any chains, or a dungeon, and that I’m not incarcerated but staying at home for the health the nation. It sounds like whoever trained me got to G, too.
AM – I can’t believe it. G’s besotted with another man! Some long-haired wastrel who thinks prancing about in his sitting room is a good way of making a living. Let me tell you, sunshine, there’s no mileage in that, I’ve been hanging around my front room for years, and it’s not done me any favours!
PM – It turns out this long-haired idiot is called Joe Wicks and the majority of the nation are also in love with him. Mental note: grow hair and become buff and effortlessly charming.
AM – In a show of petulance which I’m only partly ashamed of, I’ve spat the dummy with regards doing Wicks’ workout, and have decided, instead, to jump on his bandwagon and create my own. (Mainly because I refuse to stand idly by and watch my other half drool over that beefcake Lothario). So, instead of jumping around the lounge, I’ve taken inspiration from next door’s devil child, and I’m running up and down the stairs a hundred times, stopping every ten to do ten press-ups. Well, that was the plan. The plan I made under the subconscious misunderstanding that I was still 21 and fit. This was a poor oversight. Instead of making it to 100 and wondering whether or not to continue or just stop at such a nice round number, which was the dilemma I was expecting, I got to 20 and a mere handful of press-ups, before I fell to the floor, effectively beached, until I could either get my breath back or G could throw enough water on me to keep me alive until the tide came back in.
PM – Still got the ‘ump from this morning’s humiliating shenanigans. Shut up!
AM – Thighs on fire. Tried again – triumphantly got up to 25. Am assuming this is what winning an Olympic Gold feels like. Maybe after all this is over, I’ll become an Olympian and win a gold medal. Oh, right yeah, the fatness and oldness.
PM – This afternoon I ended up losing another massive argument. Only this time it was with our Alexa. I asked her to put a timer on for twenty minutes, and then half way through I asked her to cancel that and put a timer on for five minutes, and she said she’s added another timer, so I asked her to cancel the first timer, and she started taking the mick, asking which timer I wanted to cancel and when I said again the first timer she said there wasn’t a third timer so when I said the second timer she said there wasn’t a one second timer, and soon after that everything became a blur and then Alexa was one story down and in the middle of the road. Hmmm. “Alexa, order a kitchen timer.” Oh, balls.
AM – Have decided not to turn myself into a Joe Wicks clone. Well, the decision was taken out of my hands by him being handsome and toned and likeable and hairy in the right places, and me being kinda gross, as toned as Chunk, irascible, and hairy in the wrong places. So, as I say, I’ve decided to let Joe off the hook, and not challenge him for Alpha Male supremacy. And as a symbol of taking back my own personality, I’m going to give myself a haircut.
PM – Haircut was a bad idea. Much like my earlier overinflated sense of fitness, I hugely over-anticipated my skills as a hairdresser. I now, somehow have both a combover and a mohawk: a combhawk. I blame this entirely on Wicks, and once this whole thing blows over, he’s going down! I’ll train up as a hairdresser, become so good that I’ll get hired in a fancy-pants barber near his house, and when he comes in, I’ll give him a combhawk and, like Sampson, his power will be gone! Everyone will realise he’s just a good looking, successful fitness trainer and nutritionist with millions in the bank and– I need to think this plan through more.
AM – Today, G and I argued about the housework. Not the traditional argument, accusing the other of not pulling their weight, but both of us desperate to claim the job for ourselves to fill the boredom. What have we become!!?
PM – Had a snooze on the sofa. Pub sign across the road still squeaking incessantly, even in the slightest mouse-fart wind, needled its way Freddy-Krueger-style into my dreams, painting pictures of a haunting garden gate in a desolate landscape, swinging open to reveal a Victorian orphan. I’m never sleeping again.
AM – Today I realised that a green tee shirt I own is the exact same colour as some green tracksuit trousers. They’re both the same darkish green that you find on army fatigues. That’s right – I’m currently dressed as a man-size Action Man Doll, and life has rarely been this good. I’ve never felt tougher or more manly. I’m off to put my biggest boots on and find something that can smooth over my crotch. What a day!
PM – I eventually got bored of being Action Man when I rolled up G’s yoga mat, and used it as a pretend bazooka to take down the imaginary chopper I was hiding from behind the sofa. I say: “got bored,” I’m sure you read between the lines and realised I was politely requested to grow up. It’s safe to say, G’s looking forward to me being able to go outside in a couple of days even more than I am.
AM – One day to go! A mere 24 hours and I’ll be out enjoying my comparative freedom in this strange new world. So close now to making it through this test unscathed. Sure, I lost an argument with a robot, a duel with a fly, possibly my girlfriend, an imagined avian meeting, and my mind slightly, but in the end isn’t that what life’s all about? Definitely not, no. But it sure was an adventure! And in the end isn’t that what working from home is all about? No, you’re right. But that’s what it has been for me, and in the end isn’t that what a journey of self-discovery is all about? Again, no. But that in itself is a lesson, and in the end isn’t learning these lessons what life’s all about? Wise words, I think you’ll agree. Yah, yah, yah… (you should be in “thinking emoji” pose).
PM – My final entry. It must be something profound and pithy. Something to see me on my way as I embark on life after isolation, and all that it entails: the new appreciation for the small things, the realisation of life and society’s desperate fragility, the need for us to look out for each other and be aware of the consequences of our actions, the – Oh God, there’s another fly! Right that’s it, where are my nunchucks?
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