Sunflowers

dtwadmWriters at Home and in Isolation

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Alarm, toast, laptop, news, dinner, bed

My cough came on over the weekend. The government had announced that anyone with a new cough or temperature needed to isolate for seven days. Neither of us are looking forward to self-isolation, but we’ll find a way to manage. Her parents are still hoping to get married in ten days, and we’re relieved that we’ll be allowed out in time to make it. The murmurings have been happening for weeks: all anyone can speak about in the pub is the virus, but now with the death toll creeping up and daily briefings happening it’s starting to feel real.

       Alarm, toast, laptop, news, dinner, bed

Boris on the telly. We hunch on the sofa holding our breath. They’ve changed the rules so it’s fourteen days isolation for anyone in a household with someone exhibiting symptoms. We both know what this means but daren’t admit it. It doesn’t take long for the tears to come.

       Alarm, toast, laptop, news, dinner, bed

The cat is getting increasingly pissed off that we’re around so much. She tries to stroke him and he bites her on the hand. I order a cookery book online hoping that it will make me feel better.

       Alarm, pain au chocolat, cycle, gardening, news, dinner, bed

It’s the weekend so we treat ourselves for breakfast – pastry instead of bread. We go out cycling and a driver calls me a wanker and tells me to go home.

       Alarm, toast, laptop, news, dinner, bed

As soon as my new book is posted through the door, I feel guilty for the warehouse staff and delivery drivers put at risk to deliver a cookbook. I make a Thai curry and try to forget.

       Alarm, toast, laptop, news, dinner, bed

I stare with despair at the empty shelves in Asda. The only things left in the pasta aisle are polenta and some tricoloured pasta. The last time I had tricolour pasta I was about ten years old, at my grandpa’s house. I threw it all up and vowed to never eat tricolour pasta again. I decide we’ll have curry instead. I get to the checkout and am worried about the amount we’re spending on our weekly shop.

       Alarm, toast, laptop, news, dinner, bed

Matt Hancock on the telly. He’s telling me what a great job the government is doing. After I turn the telly off she tells me about a three-week-old baby who’s died from the virus. We agree it’s sad and go back to looking at our phones and try to forget. That evening we clap in the street with our neighbours, for everyone putting their lives on the line.

       Alarm, toast, laptop, news, dinner, bed

During our daily exercise we walk past a house giving out sunflower seeds. We plant them in the garden. I bring my book into the garden to enjoy the sunshine but the pages remain unturned and I continue to scroll on my phone.

       Alarm, toast, laptop, dinner, bed

We make a concerted decision to stop watching the news. It just makes us feel sad. Instead we watch satirical programmes about the news. These are less funny than they are usually.

       Alarm, toast, laptop, dinner, bed

My iPhone informs me that my screen time is up 260% to over 4 hours a day. I despair and throw it back onto the bed and pick up my book. Within ten minutes I give in to temptation and am back looking at my phone.

       Alarm, toast, laptop, dinner, bed

On the way to the shop I meet a cat who seems pleased to see me. I decide not to stroke it in case I inadvertently give the cat coronavirus and it gives it to a vulnerable person. The cat looks disappointed. I try to stroke my own cat when I get home and he bites me on the hand.

       Alarm, toast, laptop, dinner, bed

I hear her boss ask her over Zoom if she’s okay and she starts to cry. I complete a survey for work assessing how I’m coping with home working. I answer ‘deteriorated’ to questions about mental health, motivation and alcohol intake. I decide to go for a run and put on my trainers. At least my physical health is improving.

       Alarm, beans on toast, gardening, dinner, bed

I lie on the sofa and cry. I cry for the three-week-old baby. I cry for the vulnerable workers. I cry for the families who can’t say goodbye. I cry until my face hurts and she holds my head and strokes my hair. We go outside and the sunflowers have begun to sprout above the ground.

 

Biography

Harry lives in Bristol with his girlfriend and his cat. He enjoys gardening, reading and camping (though isn’t doing any camping at the moment).


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