Mist

I don’t know why but as soon as I saw our morning sky I immediately thought of two opposing medieval armies preparing for battle. Just waiting for the mist to lift before they crash into each other.

Our area has had so many bloody battles dating back to Viking times. Who is to say that these very fields have not witnessed that grim sight.

Today’s grim sight was restricted to this unshaven, unkempt Bloke with zero fashion sense leaning against the fence. Coffee cup in hand, exposing his partly covered hairy legs to potentially the ghosts of the past. I guess in years gone by I would have opted for the kilt look. Need to get the air onto those ‘airy knees.

Mist is an apt way of describing my current thinking this morning. After a year of lockdown (now just two weeks short of that anniversary), I still can’t see the way forward. No nearer establishing when (or if) Hawklad will feel able to return to the outside world. Is it school or permanent homeschooling. Will my job survive. When will be our next holiday or excursion. Are my dreams on hold or permanently cancelled. Will I ever get to where my heart desperately wants to go. Is that it for concerts or football for us. When will we see friends and family. Is that it for hugs. Is the world still out there. Has anyone even noticed that we aren’t part of the crowds anymore.

A pandemic year and I still can’t answer those questions.

Mind and hope mist.

That is not a great feel.

Sweet Spot

The lake is going, going, gone….

It’s been a busy old day. Much multitasking.

  • Cleaning out the cat tray,
  • Darning holes in jeans,
  • Trying to reassure,
  • Baking bread and some small buns,
  • Cleaning the toilet and bathroom floor,
  • Explaining probability to Hawklad,
  • Hair cutting,
  • Trying to figure out why the dishwasher had stopped cleaning,
  • Putting a new belt onto the hoover,
  • Removing a pet related stain from the sofa.
  • Changing the bedding,
  • Ordering ingredients for next weeks school at home cooking project,
  • Trying to measure Hawklad for new clothes,
  • Trying to make an omelette which is approaching edible.

At work multitasking was so valued. Multitasking usually in areas you might be good at or at least competent. Maybe backed up with some training and clear process guides. At home, my home, it feels very different. Yes it’s multitasking but never in areas I’m good at. Often feeling like I’m not even vaguely competent. Constantly having to refer to incomprehensible instructions, Google searching for help videos or just looking blank as I kinda just wing it.

Don’t get me wrong, I do have things I’m good at. I’m ace at saving Football penalties. I can smash into Rugby tackles. I can bowl a mean leg break. I can climb rock faces. I’m an expert on Godzilla and the X-Files. I can recite almost word for word every Fawlty Towers and Captain Scarlett episode. I rock cycle shorts (ok I made that one up). I can balance unfeasibly large numbers of coins on my elbow and then catch them one handed. AND I’m one of the worlds great air guitarists.

These are all great talents but strangely have not yet been required in my single parenting career. I wonder why? 🤣😂 But I live in hope. One day one of those skills might just be required. Then I will have found my parenting sweet spot. A task I can excel in. No need for instructions or help. No vacant look or red mist descending. That reassuring feeling of ‘I’ve got this’. How good will that feel….

Garage

Who would have thought a year a go that a trip to the garage would so resemble a decontamination scene from the movie Outbreak. You arrive and you are greeted by someone in a full face Perspex visor and gloves. A clear bag is held out at arms length for me to drop my car keys into. They are sprayed with something before the bag is closed. I’m asked a number of health questions and told to keep my face mask on at all times. Then ushered into the building through a roped off side door. I’m then directed to a clear screen and the masked service engineer discuss my 4 wheeled bag of rust. I’m then pointed to a tray with a car key – clearly recently sprayed. After I have picked the key up another person with full head protection takes through a separate door and pointed towards the service pool car parked in a separate roped off part of the car park. I’m then given verbal instructions on how to return with the car. I have to park next to the car wash in the roped off return zone.

Wow.

Kind of makes me wish I had cleaned my car now. It is a right state. Feeling guilty about that….

And if you think that’s decontamination. It’s not a patch on what I had to go through on my return to our house. Hawklad wasn’t taking any chances.

It’s a plan

So the Government has set out the way forward. A roadmap. Starting with all schools opening on the 8th March with parents able to play golf or tennis is socially distanced way as soon as the school buses have left the street. Ending with getting the bunting out just before summer with every adult having been offered at least one shot of vaccine and virtually all restrictions lifted. That’s the plan.

This time they have introduced some gaps between the various stages to check on the impact. It’s an improvement on the first lockdown release. Not great but an improvement on the last shambles.

I’m already hearing people talk about booking summer holidays, binning the masks, going to nightclubs. The message is ‘soon it will be over, we will have won….’.

Sadly I’m not convinced yet….

  • Schools are being fully reopened against the advice of many of the Government’s own scientific advisers. Reopened with no meaningful additional safety measures put in place.
  • No plans to prioritise front line groups like teachers or police for vaccines. Apparently this will just complicate things.
  • No thought given to the Health and Care sectors that have been stretched to breaking point for a year now. They can’t keep functioning like this.
  • No plans for under 18 vaccines at all as schools are ‘perfectly safe’ and the kids can develop herd immunity without getting too sick. Yet no mention of the increasing number of under 18s suffering long covid symptoms. No mention of school outbreaks that are already happening even with 3/4 quarter empty schools. No mention of overcrowded classrooms with no ventilation. No mention of the scores of children going down with associated diseases which have been brought on as a result of a seemingly mild Covid bout. No investment in home schooling resources to take pressure off classrooms and create another avenue for education – just threats of fines for parents.
  • The plans assume that the vaccine is the way out of the crisis. No mention of virus related mutations becoming resistant to the vaccine. A real risk when you have high infection rates and delayed second shot vaccine delivery. The vaccine is good but it’s not 100% effective. Plus we just don’t know how long the protection will last for in individuals.
  • The plan is in tatters if a change in the virus makes current vaccines less effective. In that increasingly like scenario the vaccine programme has to completely reset and start again.
  • No thought on making changes to how we work, study and play to make them safer going forward. We seem to be happy going back to the status quo which so spectacularly failed only a year ago.
  • The plan assumes an acceptable level of Covid infections and casualties. This is not a zero virus plan.
  • No mention of the mental health crisis facing young and old in this country.
  • The Virus will still be here…..

So no I’m not planning for a pandemic free future just yet. I hope we are fortunate and the plan does work. But when do things ever go to Plan.

Pop Art

And still it shrinks. I’m going to miss it when it’s gone.

Back to school at home and back to the daily fun…. Started with the usual happy pep talk from a teacher. To paraphrase.

‘Remember I’ve set some work before the week off. It’s voluntary but I can see what people have done and how long you have spent on it. I am checking….I’m about to do your assessment….”

Ok….

Then I accidentally phoned the school. Who hasn’t done the ‘put the mobile in your back trouser pocket just to see how long it takes for your bum to unlock the phone and dial a number’ trick. The mobile can’t have been in the pocket for 2 minutes before suddenly I heard a strange voice coming from my nether regions. How is it that it takes me hours to figure out how to unlock the mobile, find the phone app, then repeatedly fail to type in the number. Yet my butt can unlock the phone and successfully call someone in a fraction of that time…..

So after I had apologised to school reception it was back to the usual fight with submitting pieces of work and trying to find the class work on Teams. Fights with explanations, hidden meanings and unclear instructions.

Quickly followed by the ritual Dad humiliation.

Dad apart from Andy Warhol what other Pop Art practitioners can you name.”

Erm……..

Ok can you at least name a few famous Pop Art pieces and before you say it, NO Godzilla doesn’t count.”

Erm there was that picture with about 100 Madonna’s replicated.

Dad. You mean Monroe and it was 50 times…”

That’s the one. Then there was the soup tin. Erm Andy Warhol was in Men in Black 3, does that count?

So basically no help…….

But maybe my backside could become Pop Art. Probably not. Not sure how big the canvas would have to be to get 50 replicas of my butt on. But if they could then I could literally be sat on an important piece of avant garde culture. Sat on a fortune.

Monster

Unbelievably some snowdrops have survived the paws of the mad one. Flowers are always welcome especially when they herald the arrival of Spring. They are even more welcome when they sort themselves out. We just have to enjoy and try to stop the dog trampling them into the ground.

This morning was felt like another Groundhog Day here in our family lockdown. Very like every other morning. Doing the same things. That included trying to find some socks to wear. Where do they go. Ok I will reframe that question. Where does the sock monster put them. It’s not as if we live in a big house with loads of rooms. Only a month ago I had to buy 7 more pairs to boost the numbers floating round our little world. Sill struggling to find a matching pair.

But here’s the thing. Here’s another reason to be thankful of the lockdown. No one will see what I’m wearing. It doesn’t matter. Odd socks rule….

Back

Everyday our little lake shrinks just a little bit more.

It’s Sunday. The last day of the Half Term break. Tomorrow the next leg of the school at home project commences again. Does it sound bad that I’m not looking forward to it.🤓🤬😱🤯

The delights of Zoom meetings and lessons. The word Zoom has replaced Cauliflower has the one that makes my stomach churn the most. The mandate to use Microsoft Teams then trying to work out which teachers are not using it this week. The soul shattering tiredness which ensues from the daily 630am alarm call. Trying to get my head round chemical reactions, tectonic plate theory and trigonometry. Trying to help with French while being unable to stop helping in German. Trying to explain coding to so dine with dyslexia when I don’t see the point. Not being able to find the right coloured pens and stationery. Failing to get Hawklads homework to submit by the deadlines. Emailing teachers to remind them that Hawklad is still here and still a member of the class. At home but not having the time for housework. Constantly fighting the urge to drown in a swimming pool of extra strength coffee and gorge on every cookie within a 10 mile radius.

Yep not looking forward to that starting again.

But it will be done, I just might go a bit grouchy….

Let’s be honest

Could I argue that this was a Golden Eagle catching fish over a mountain lined lake. I could but others might have a different view. If we don’t listen then we often get the wrong answer….

I was listening to a member of the Government being interviewed about schools on the BBC. The interviewer listened politely to the answers agreeing with everything that was said. Never asking for the evidence or questioning the view. All very friendly and very smily. Then a scientist was interviewed with a differing view. The interview was very different. The scientist was constantly interrupted, never allowed to answer fully. Often basically accused of being biased. Part of the problem. A very hostile interview.

That’s the problem we are not allowed to have a balanced open discussion anymore. It’s very much you are with us or against us. It’s not just Covid, it’s everything. I heard a leading Government MP say that any Firm that doesn’t support Brexit fully would be penalised.

So where are we with schools. They largely remain shut until the 8th March. Next week our so called Leader will tell us the plan. There seems to be a media blitz telling parents that schools are perfectly safe. Children have to be in schools as no other options exist. Nothing to worry about. The only change needed is to get pupils to wear a mask in a few more shared areas but definitely not in classrooms. Parents will be issued with Covid test kits so they can test their family regularly. The evidence from Europe and here shows that schools don’t spread the pandemic at all. Children are getting infected only in households. Infection rates are falling. More people have been vaccinated. Doubting parents will be subjected to a Advertisement campaign to reassure them. Those still doubting will be warned about fines and penalties to if they fail to send their children back.

That’s one view….

There are other views.

  • Respect individual children views. Some will be keen to return others will not feel safe. It’s a personal judgement about risk.
  • People are being vaccinated but most only with one of the two required shots. This runs the risk of reduced effectiveness and virus resistant mutations.
  • The vaccine varies on how much protection it provides to individuals, how long it is before the protection starts to tail off and how effective it is at stopping people spreading the virus.
  • There are NO plans to vaccinate children. The Government believes they are a key way to develop herd immunity. A strategy which has little expert support.
  • Comparing UK schools with many of the European ones misses a key point. UK classrooms are much more overcrowded with less opportunities for social distancing than European ones.
  • Infection rates are falling but still are higher than under the first wave. The death rate is still daily well over 500 a day. So falling YES but no where near under control.
  • The number of virus mutations being detected are rising rapidly.
  • The virus is now spreading fastest amongst the young and under 18 age groups.
  • Even with a lockdown and with schools only accepting a small number of pupils (essential worker children), Public Health England are still reporting that about 100 schools a week are still encountering pandemic outbreaks.
  • Our Leader only a few weeks ago called schools completely safe and told parents to send their children into school. 8 hours later he was saying schools were Vectors for Transmission and had to be closed. Make your mind up….
  • Children are getting serious long term Covid. They are being hospitalised.
  • Children are being admitted to hospital with associated serious diseases which are linked to an initial mild Covid infection.
  • The quick self administered tests which are going to be used are not particularly accurate or reliable. Only really effective as a guide not a determinate.
  • Many scientists and experts are arguing for caution on school reopenings. For the foreseeable future they are arguing for investment in homeschooling to allow for more classroom space. This would also allow time for schools to implement change to permanently move away from overcrowded learning environments.

Different views but we are only supposed to hear one. Just maybe the best way going forward is to be open with what we know and what we don’t know. Let individual schools work with the local health services, parents and pupils. Develop local solutions that work the local circumstances. Give them the support to make long term changes. Provide an enhanced national home schooling resource pool. Then trust parents and children to make the right call for them. Surely that’s a better route out of this mess.

Midday

That’s more like a Yorkshire midday. Very dark and brooding.

The sky may be bleak but it’s actually quite inspiring. Makes the landscape feel full of character and emotion. In a funny sort of way I prefer looking at this type of sky to a blue cloudless one.

Did I just say that!!

I came inside freezing cold, jet blasted and very very damp.

I guess the point I’m making is that in an ideal world I would have a view filled with snow capped mountains. It’s a climbers thing with me. I feel at home with the peaks. If I can’t have that view then maybe a view of the Sea. That is down to someone being brought up in a Yorkshire Fishing Town.

That is just not happening where we live. A small hill top 40 miles from the sea. The view we have is open farmland and countryside. Lovely yes but not on the surface that inspiring for me. But it does have something special. The sky. As we are on a hill top with no surrounding peaks or high buildings or trees …. we have a big sky. So I look to that for my inspiration. Hence my liking for a dark, brooding sky. The kind of sky that really deserves the old Hammer Horror movie treatment. Doesn’t have to be horror. A sky perfect for Jayne Eyre or Wuthering Heights.

I remember my mum would listen to sad records to cheer herself up. My partner would watch sad movies to lift the spirits. Which is kind of understandable when you have to live with me. I guess a brooding sky does something similar with me. It sparks my imagination. Helps me dream.

So that’s another item on the list of things to be thankful for. For me it’s so easy to fall into the trap of just seeing the bad things in my life. Depression brings all the bad thoughts to the front of my nogging. They end up dominating my thinking. Doing all they can to bring me down. But the reality is so different. I am so fortunate. So many wonderful things are a part of my life. Yes I’ve known sadness and loss but that’s the human condition. We will all venture down that road in our life’s. So that’s not unique to me. Life deserves to be lived. And yes that can mean smiling at a brooding midday sky.

So let’s dream under that sky. Shall I be Heathcliff or Dracula. Let’s not kid myself, with my looks it better be the Bram Stoker character then.

Worry about it

The thaw has set in. No more snowy sun roses this week, maybe not until next winter.

I wrote a few hours ago about how I was missing the snow when it’s gone. You only really miss those things that are special to you.

There’s a difference between missing something and worrying about something. The disappearing snow is also worrying me a little. During the national lockdown the snow helped create an impression of a really small available world. What we can see and touch is all that is available. We are not missing out on much.

But is the thawing snow a symbol of change?

Some Governments are keen to reopen and relax restrictions. Is that way too soon. Who knows. But the message that it will be soon open for everyone misses the point. It’s not going to be open for everyone. Anxieties and Fears don’t get fixed overnight. The vaccinations won’t have reached many people including the kids. Many will only have had one shot. We have rapidly changing mutations. Some will continue to wear masks others will ditch them.

The works will open for some.

For us the lockdown will continue. In a few months I will have had one of the two vaccine shots. So I will be partly covered but that’s not the point. Hawklad’s fears are actually rising. He knows that I and other vaccinated people can still pass the virus onto him. He knows that he won’t be getting and vaccine protection. He can see that children can get covid and the more severe long covid. He is fully aware of the associated serious disease that is affecting some children. He can knows that some people will drop their guard. Basically his fears are not going away. So our lockdown will continue.

So the disappearing snow kind of symbolises something else. A world is out there. It is opening again but not for us. It’s not a small available world anymore. It’s a big world again but one that we are locked out of. Beyond our reach. That worries me and makes me sad.

Sad to see the snow go.

But then another thought. A better thought. Other people, other families can hopefully start to enjoy these places again. To have adventures. Other young ones can have holidays again. Have more fun. Can be safe doing that. Memories can be born.

Maybe the snow going is a good thing.