Patchy

Sometimes nothing is better than spending a few minutes kicking fallen leaves randomly around the garden. It’s good to go back to childhood feelings again. Autumn is often a great time for that.

Today’s visit by our son’s health worker has been cancelled. She will try again in a few weeks. It is what it is. At least we are due to get some help, many are not so fortunate. We just have to accept that what support we do get is likely to be very patchy over the coming months. Yep, we will be travelling these roads for a long while to come.

If anything we have just started the journey. Son is still wracked with anxiety and fears. He is most definitely house and garden bound. No sign of progress as yet. Actually no sign if progress in ages. We are not talking a few days here. We are already 7 months into his isolation. We will be adding many more months to that. Realistically his anxieties have become intertwined with the wider pandemic situation. How can he improve, his anxieties ease when the country is still in pandemic mode. If he ventured out he would just end up seeing people wearing masks and frequently looking nervous. It feels like manning the battlements until things start to pick up again.

That’s where kicking fallen leaves comes in. It’s so important that Hawklad still enjoys life. Enjoys his childhood. We find ways to fill our small world with fun. Yes kicking leaves ticks all those boxes. AND it’s fun for his old Pop as well.

Magical sky

Looking at a big sky opens up so many possibilities. It can fill your heart with wonder. It can fuel dreams and adventures. Bring back forgotten memories. It can also calm the internal raging storm.

It can also stop you taking a large sledgehammer to the telephone…

I received a letter from the bank informing me that my local branch was closing. I apparently had two options. Start using a branch which is 15 miles further away or set up an online banking option. I opted for the latter as the setup process was fully online and could be completed in just a few moments.

Did have a third option…. switch to another bank.

So I started the process from the comfort of my sofa. Rather than being complete in just a few moments the process was clearly going to be more akin to spending a few hours in the company of the Spanish Inquisition. Three hours later the trial was still ongoing. New passwords, passcodes, PIN numbers, memorable words and identifying questions seemingly required for each screen. The process was clearly not complicated enough so suddenly the iPhone was required to join in with the tablet. Verification codes started flying between the two. I’ve got a degree in computing and the process was still pigging beyond me.

Then at last the final screen. Confirm your new online banking arrangements….. then the sting in the tail.

You will need to go into your branch in person to sign a form before the process can be completed. You can now however view your account balance online.

Very kind of them to allow me to view my bank balance (or lack of it) online. Who needs the other stuff like transfer money, make payments, control direct debits. That’s all minor stuff when it comes to online banking.

Then followed a most enjoyable one hour spent in a call queue listening to a recorded message telling me that I was a valued customer but unfortunately the bank was experiencing high call volumes. Finally a person. Unfortunately a person in a different country who didn’t understand the fine twangs of the Yorkshire accent and also clearly had no idea what it was to live in a country dealing with lockdowns.

So I eventually found myself outside. Trying to calm the internal rage and work out how to pay a visit to the new bank branch. But then the sky caught my attention. Thoughts quickly moved to happier things. Yes the sky is magical.

2022

Dad that’s not a bad sky at all”

It’s a grand one Son.

You always say GRAND these days”

It’s just a way of saying something is impressive. It’s a bit like you saying something is sick….

Dad I was thinking about school. What happens if I still can’t go out during next year as well. Maybe I’m not ready to go back until 2022. What happens then?”

Well we just carry on. We’ve coped for most of this year. We just do the same next year then. Although I might have a ZZ Top beard by 2022 .

I so want to see that.”

Make a change for you. Having a Dad who looks cool….

That’s never happening. As you would say Dad. You are a Grand Muppet.”

You never know. One day….

Dad is that your mobile Dad going off.”

Yes it is. A message. Oh look they have rescheduled our Ozzy concert. Was supposed to be next week but they have put it back to October 2022. Time for me to grow a proper beard.

Dad time for me to maybe venture out again…”

Irony

It was another one of those Yorkshire days. Cold, wet, windy, brooding.

That weather combined with a pandemic, homeschooling and our enforced lockdown is a heady mix. A mix which gets me pondering life. Probably too much pondering some days.

I was sat looking out through the window at that dark sky. Sat alone while Hawklad did his school work in the bedroom. I was suddenly taken back to before 2016. The old small conservatory had finally fallen to bits. We had found the money for a replacement one. I think we planned for years of sitting in there, spending time together. But here’s the thing. We never really did. Life always got in the way. We always seemed to be too busy. If only we had found a way of slowing life down. Creating time at home. Seemingly having too much time on our hands. No excuses to not sit together in that new conservatory. At the time it kind of never really mattered. We had so many years ahead of us to do that.

Well that plan didn’t go well.

Here’s the irony that 2020 presents. Suddenly time has slowed down. Often a feeling of too much time on our hands. A lockdown enforcing time together. No outside distractions this time. A perfect time to sit with my partner and look at that dark sky. Thinking how lucky we are to have that time together. The irony is not lost on me.

Bin

Another day and another email from school. Another pupil has tested positive. I’ve lost count of the pupils isolating now. One year has about 80 isolating out of 130. Another year has about 60 isolating. Countless teachers can be added to the list. Sadly that’s what happens when a cramped and old fashioned school tries to operate at full capacity during a pandemic.

Unfortunately it’s a story being repeated across the England. The latest figures show that last week 400000 pupils were have to isolate. 50000 pupils had either tested positive or were suspected as having the virus. It’s almost as if the Government is trying to get as many of our children infected as possible.

Surely it’s time to bring in better controls within our schools. For a start opening up online education options to all pupils has to be done as a matter of urgency. That would instantly create space in classrooms. Cramped and overcrowded classrooms have to be consigned to the bin.

Childhood

So many pupils from our son’s year group are isolating. I’m also hearing that other pupils are being asked to isolate in other year groups as well. Many teachers are off. It’s all a bit of a mess really. Many schools are like this in the UK. They don’t feel like environments conducive to learning at present.

These are stressful times for many. I’m not sure the Government understands this. Or chooses to ignore this. Bland statements that ‘schools are the best place for children’ are recited everyday. It might be in terms of the Economy but….

Some children need to be in school. Some need to be at home. They definitely need to have the chance to have a childhood. A good childhood. It’s often too easily forgotten how much stress and anxiety they are under. Unable to see friends. Unable to do some of the stuff they love. Living in a stress filled world with so much confusion. Told to wear masks in buses and shops, yet told not wear them in classrooms. Frequent enforced teacher switches. Many sadly forced to isolate or deal with the actual virus. Living in a small world with few holidays and adventures. Watching never ending grim news reports. How much stress are many of our children under. We have to do something about this. To me that’s more important than the short term needs of the economy.

Our son is racked with anxiety. Too much to allow him to venture through the front gate. A significant part of his precious childhood is being spent in isolation. That’s hard to take as a parent. All I can do is to keep him feeling safe, try to shutout the bad stuff from the world and to try to find ways to help him still enjoy his childhood. He’s had a tough one already. Loss of his mum, coming to terms with Aspergers and now a Pandemic. That’s why I’ve got to work all the more harder. There’s still a childhood to be enjoyed.

Well that will stop it

So today our so called Government announced that our local city is to be moved up the pandemic risk table. It’s now a tier 2 area risk. That’s officially HIGH. As a result additional rules will apply to those living in the city. One rule is that I can’t now visit my sister at her house in York. But here’s the thing.

Under the rules I could go to work with anyone from York – no issues there. But after work finishes I would then not be allowed to go for a coffee with those same co-workers. Suddenly mixing with them becomes too risky. Well that will fool the pesky virus…..

Bizarrely I have just noticed that my next nearest sister who lives in another city 100 miles away has also been classed as living in a high risk area. So I can’t visit her as well. Well this is going well…..

Seven months

I was checking my diary. It’s now officially 7 months since our own little family lockdown started. Seven months, that’s a long time. Yes there have been some bleak and lonely periods. But we are still here. Still grinding onwards. That gives me hope.

With our son’s anxieties, with a pandemic showing no signs of ebbing, with increasingly random government – we just have no idea how long this family isolation will go on for. Possibly for many months to come.

Yet we have already survived 7 months. We have made some new memories. Still had fun times. Technology allowed friendships to flourish

We have more than just survived 7 months, did manage to live a bit as well. We can certainly cope with a few more months of this.

Challenging

It’s wet. It’s cold. It’s dark. It feels like winter. At least the leaves are still in autumn mode.

It’s going to be a challenging few months.

School has now contacted all parents following the recent in school positive covid cases. Our sons year group have been instructed to return to school. However a further 57 pupils are being asked to self isolate for 14 days. It’s not just our school. Another 5 local schools have at least one year group isolating, with another school reporting its first cases today.

This is on the same day that the government once again stressed the civic responsibility to attend school. Schools are perfectly safe and the risk of infection is extremely low.

Are we supposed to believe you Boris?

I remember you telling university students to go back to college as it was their civic duty, it was perfectly safe and students would risk losing places if they refused. Just a few weeks later and in one local city 1600 of the 2200 new infections are from university students. Nationally over 10000 students have now gone down with the virus In another city a number of the university students have required intensive care treatment due to the virus. Many other students are now on lockdown, confined to their rooms.

Apparently this is all the fault of the students…..

Are you supposed to be in charge Boris?

Going to be a challenging few months.

New Sport

It’s dark, bit of blue sky, very windy. Good drying weather.

Friday was one of those days. Hassle from school. Missing items. Me being a walking accident magnet. My favourite music magazine, one I’ve been reading for ages, went out of business. And the washing machine….. it decided to eat itself. Two hours of fruitless home repair confirmed that in the words of Monty Python –

E’s kicked the bucket, ‘e’s shuffled off his mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleeding choir invisible!! THIS IS AN EX-WASHING MACHINE…..

A bit of disaster when we have such a heavy lockdown washing requirement. A replacement one was finally sourced that has an expected delivery window of less than 3 months!! So it’s the delights of hand washing for a while. Given Hawklads anxieties – lots of it. I guess it’s a good arm workout.

I need the weather to be nice and cooperate. Outdoor drying would really help. Please help me dry the washing, pretty please….

So here’s the new sport. It’s great for endurance and reactions. Much bending over and sprinting. It’s called ‘catching my pants as they hurtle across the farmers field’. The sizeable wind was clearly trying to turn my underwear into a new post brexit export to Belgium. In fact given the colossal size of my pants they would constitute a bigger new trade deal than anything our clowns of a government have secured in one year…..