Crazy

It’s all gone a bit crazy. Even the sheep I encountered on the one permitted walk out of the house .. It’s a scene of peace in front of the lens. Behind the lens I am being stalked by a pack of hungry sheep waiting for a biscuit.

Dad you have done some crazy things but that one is up there”

No it wasn’t my sanest moment. I lost a challenge and my punishment was to bounce for five minutes on the trampoline. In a moment of madness I made myself a cup of tea to drink while bouncing. Yes I didn’t really think that through. Unfortunately I didn’t come to my senses until after the first bounce had deposited the said contents of the cup onto my T-shirt. Clearly the tea is not the only thing that I have lost.

Dad what on earth are you doing”

I had made a mistake on a post that I was writing for a couple of friends.

“Son where is the rubber (eraser), I’ve messed up and need to change something”

Dad your using your IPad”

Yes I know”

Tell me Dad your not going thinking about using a rubber on the screen.”

Staggeringly I was in a moment of utter craziness. I guess it’s a combination of a complete lack of sleep, trying to help with French homework and the general oddness which has descended on to us all. It really is an odd feeling. Like we are living in an episode of the X-Files merged with Monty Python and Bear Grylls.

But at least we can still smile about it. If anything the craziness helps fill the day. So let’s have one more piece of craziness.

Rory (A Guy Called Bloke) has come up with a new music challenge.

you are to create a playlist of 15 songs based upon a weekly theme.  All titles must be relevant to the theme itself – not the artists just the song titles. This week the theme is CRAZY TIMES…

So here goes (going to try and just include songs from my music collection).

  1. Crazy Train – Ozzy
  2. Psychotic Break – Jerry Cantrell
  3. Madhouse – Anthrax
  4. Stone Cold Crazy – Queen
  5. Am I Going Insane – Black Sabbath
  6. Eyes of the Insane – Slayer
  7. Inmates (Were all Crazy) – Alice Cooper
  8. Crazy – Nazareth
  9. Crazy Horses – The Osmonds yes that’s my only Osmonds song
  10. Shine on you crazy diamond – Pink Floyd
  11. Crazy – Aerosmith
  12. Moon Crazy – Blue Oyster Cult
  13. Crazy World – Scorpions
  14. You’re Crazy – Guns n Roses
  15. Psycho – Metal Church

Tree

This is a tree we can see from our garden. The walk across the farmers field takes you right beside it. When we first moved here it was so much bigger. Almost symmetrical. Unfortunately countless storms and a couple of lightning strikes have taken their toll. I guess that’s the price you pay for being a big isolated tree on an exposed hill top.

So it finally happened. All the countries schools will close on Friday. A skeleton childcare service will be provided for essential workers and vulnerable kids. Our school is planning to try and run lessons online. It’s an indefinite closure with much talk of this extending into the summer. It will be an interesting trial with homeschooling in mind. Let’s see what works. Let’s see what the optimum learning time is. Let’s see if I can cope. As a single parent, the work shutdown will allow me to fully focus on son and his learning.

Life can often bring much isolation. With the new life motto – ‘Social Distancing’, more are going to have deal with the challenges that it brings. Each one of us has to find our own way of dealing with this. Don’t laugh but walking past this old tree and just giving it a friendly pat can help me. The tree has survived longer and more intense isolation than I ever will. It’s only right that I show solidarity with a fellow survivor.

I went for a walk today and almost didn’t see another soul. Plenty of sheep and crows but so few people. Hardly any cars as well. It just seemed kinda normal. I guess after three years I am getting use to the isolation. Just about. Had to make a few work calls today but that’s going to be it for many weeks now. As people increasingly keep their distance the reality is that the only person I will be physically talking to over the next couple of months will our son. Maybe an occasional telephone call with a sister. That’s why blogging will be so important for me.

I’m someone who has to continually work on my conversation skills these days. Without it I become a gibbering, shy wreck. That’s why I have recently become a crap Dr Doolittle. I am increasingly talking to animals. Not just the mad pets. The birds and squirrels waiting to be fed in the garden. The frog who comes for a warm when the tumble dryer is on. The bee trying to break into the house. The farmers sheep, cows and a grumpy bull. I’m a crap Doolittle as I talk to the poor animals but I still can’t understand what they say back. Probably a good job as I can imagine the responses.

“Will you just sod off”

“Boring, boring”

“Do you mind if I hump your leg”

So on the walk I crouched down to have a chat with a sheep. The local sheep are happy to listen to my waffles as long as I bring some biscuits with me. So I was asking this particular sheep if she ever got bored just walking in the same field and did she like these biscuits . Nearly jumped out of my skin when behind me a booming voice replied.

“If they keep producing the wool for my jumpers I will happily let them eat biscuits. This one likes Digestives, the others are partial to those biscuits .”

I had not heard the farmer sneak up on me. Another day and another …. Oh the shame. But at least I know that I need to bring two types of biscuits on the walks now. All this took place under the a much battered, yet resilient tree.

Bee

Slightly unnerving BEEing (being) eyeballed by this woolly friend. Couldn’t work out if it was admiring my silky garden football skills or was waiting for a Rich Tea biscuit. I lived in footballing worship hope until a biscuit was handed over and the woolly one then walked off.

Not always but occasionally life balances itself out. This morning I finished my last bit of paid work before the company basically shuts down for a couple of months (maybe longer). So no money coming in. As I closed the work laptop the phone rang. It was the garage, they still can’t get the parts needed for my cars poorly braking system. They will keep trying but the repair work won’t happen much before May. That’s a bit of a result. Won’t BEE (be) using the car much at all and that’s one hefty bill kicked into the long grass.

Talking about long grass. Last year someone gave me a wild bee hotel. The poor souls are struggling here so I thought I would do my bit. A quiet corner in the garden has been allowed to go wild. To be factually correct that should have been described as – I have let a part of the badly overgrown garden to go even wilder than the rest of the mess…

Anyway in the wild corner I have carefully located the bee hotel. Still no little takers after many months. I remember my Dad telling me that the first bee you see in spring is probably looking for a new home. He was a stubborn Yorkshireman so I never dared to question his apicultural knowledge. So our first bee of the season arrived.

A bee clearly fixated on trying to squeeze under the back door and get into our house. I tried showing the bee the currently vacant and palatial hotel. As hard as I pointed at the hotel’s front door, the bee just ignored me. Even a little honey failed to entice the bee. UnBEElievable (Unbelievable)

My question to you. What is the bee phrase for ‘Sorry pal your not coming in here. This thing I’m pointing at is your free of charge new house. I will even feed you each day.”

Doll

Let’s see what we can find in our little part of this beautiful planet. Today it’s the village pond. Few will know it exists as it’s hidden well behind the church, backing onto farmland. Yes a footpath passes close by but if you stick to it then the water is hidden. To find the pond you need to venture off the path and slog your way through an overgrown and very muddy piece of land. Hard work but worth it.

Understandably today brought a catalogue of work event cancellations. Certainly the rest of March and April will be virtually workless. Probably May as well. Three months without pay really. But we are so fortunate. As a family we can just about survive until work picks up again. At least I will have a job after things stabilise. Many will not be that fortunate. My heart goes out to you if your in that position.

I can’t do anything about the lack of work. What I can do is to use the time it frees up to focus even more on our son. Like many kids he is concerned, frightened, confused… I need to use this time to try and make happy memories for him. And maybe me as well.

So lets see what we can squeeze out of this strange period in our life’s. Fun and good stuff might not necessarily be easy to find currently. But like the village pond, with a bit of hard work it must be there somewhere. We will find it and create memories.

The village pond always brings a smile. Its already a location which has helped form good memories. His old nursery had this thing about getting the kids to look after and care for various toys. One weekend our son was sent home with a doll in a beautiful white dress. He had to look after the doll, show her his home, care for her and record all this in her diary. He decided that he wanted to show the doll the village pond. We set off with him carefully cradling the doll. Unfortunately on the way our son accidentally dropped her in a cow pat. The poor doll was submerged, head first with just her legs sticking out of the smelly pile of poo. Our little four year olds son looked at the poor doll, then calmly at me and with a cheeky smile said the immortal words

“Dad what have you done….”

Breathe

And breathe…. count to 10 and breathe again.

More and more countries go into lockdown. We are surrounded by lands where schools have been closed. Meanwhile here in England our leaders give interviews only to carefully selected media supporters. Even the Chief Medical Officer gives an interview to a right wing newspaper. On the off chance you just might want to find out what our top medical person has to say on the crisis then you have to pay for it. Apparently we might force anyone over seventy into isolation in a few weeks. We might close bars and cinemas down – maybe in a few weeks. We will definitely keep schools open – if teachers go off sick then we will just cram more kids into the available classes. Sticking to the strategy of trying to get as many of the fit and young infected so they develop immunity. All sounds a bit X-Files to me. Seems to be based on the assumptions that infection has no long term side effects and any acquired immunity will be for the long term. Both assumptions are scientifically unproven as yet. Increasing numbers of experts appear to not share the same opinion as our key experts advising the government. Plus this is our Government we are talking about – they couldn’t run a piss up in a brewery. Has anyone seen Boris Johnson over the last few days? I really hope he’s as stressed out as my kid is over the virus….. If it’s sending many of the adults into panic what is it doing to our children.

It’s an odd feeling. Do I trust our countries leaders and it’s experts OR do I rather trust other countries approaches. That excludes the overall US approach – I’m not sure waiting for it to one day just disappear really cuts the mustard as an approach.

So I am wrestling with one decision. Do I let son go to school. I have a duty of care to look after him. Do I think he is safe, secure and well cared for in the educational environment. I’m still wrestling with that one. I think many parents round here are facing the same call. Yes full on school closures have a knock on effect on childcare and staffing in our essential services. Especially as our Government has deliberately cut those services to the bone. We now only have a quarter of the critical care beds that Germany has. But on the other hand how many kids and teachers have underlying medical conditions. Are we not placing them at risk. So it’s not an easy decision. But I need to focus on my son. What’s in his best interest. We also need to keep moving forward.

I need to go shopping tomorrow for a few things. Should be an interesting experience. One of the things I need is a Chocolate Almond Drink. It’s about the only nice dairy substitute drink I have found. It’s expensive but it is always on offer for 3 for £3. Well last week it was caught up in the panic buy restrictions. Now I can only buy 2 in one shop. Suddenly it’s become expensive. What’s bizarre is no bugger else buys it. I strongly suspected that for a while as they don’t put many of these drinks out and often they looked like they hadn’t been touched since I was last there. Being a sad person I have for the last three weeks put a little pencil mark on the next available drink – it’s still been there on my next visit. So clearly they are worried that as the only buyer of that item I may panic buy and deprive myself of buying it next time. It’s all a bit bizarre. But that’s 2020 for you.

With that I will now try to focus on other things on this blog. Yes I may have to mention the pesky virus but I will try not to that much. Over the next few weeks blogging is probably going to become more important for many. A rare connection in our dislocated world. Maybe trying to create a bit of normality in this maelstrom is what is currently needed. What is certainly needed is that we show how much we love our family and those we care most for. That we try just that little harder to be considerate and look out for others in our community. Trying extra hard to be nice and kind. And yes don’t forget to find the time to care for ourselves as well. Finding that time to smile and breathe. We might not be able to agree on what the best approach is to dealing with the virus but being just a little kinder will certainly make us all feel just that bit better about our world. Thats not going to happen fighting over that last pack of 50 toilet rolls.

Take care my friends. x

Yellow

Suddenly colour is returning to Yorkshire. Well one colour. Most definitely yellow. It is such a welcome sight after so many grey months. Takes your mind off other matters.

Need to be open and honest with son.

Dad whats the number of people with the virus now”

Officially its 750 but now they say up to 10000 may have it”

OMG I thought the experts said our approach was working well. How can they have got the figure so wrong”

“It’s down to testing. For some reason we only tested those with symptoms who had visited high risk countries. They didn’t seem to test if you had been abroad. Clearly they missed a lot of proper cases.”

“That sounds so stupid.”

“Yes it’s not great is it”

“Dad why hasn’t Boris closed the schools down yet”

“Apparently it’s on the basis of expert advice.”

Many other countries and regions have closed them down, won’t that be on expert advice as well”

“Apparently Boris and his experts think that school closures and banning public events is not based on the correct expert advice.”

What makes our advice better then”

Probably need to ask an expert about that. We seem to be saying that if schools are closed it’s pointless as the kids will mix in large numbers anyway. We also seem to be saying that if we stop people going to things like football and concerts then they will just go to smaller events. And they argue that smaller events are potentially worse sources of infection. Football has been stopped for a month now but that was not the government, they were happy for the matches to go ahead. It was the Football Authorities who stopped the games.”

“That sounds a bit dodgy. Surely Dad the point is to reduce the number of people you mix with. Schools, football, trains, buses and concerts are some of our biggest mixing areas.”

I bet they will eventually have to change their minds on some of these. But it is daft.”

I think a big part of it is that the last few governments have really cut back on the NHS and made child care more expensive. They don’t have enough doctors and nurses. If schools close then a lot of parents will not be able to go to work as they will need to look after their children. The NHS can’t cope with that now. I’ve also heard several in the government mention that shutting schools will hurt the economy.”

“So it’s about money then really”

“Probably is but they won’t say that. Easier to just tell people it’s expert advice.”

So how are they trying to control the virus if they don’t close things down.”

“It seems to be something called the herd. The Chief Doctor talked about needing at least 60% of the population to recover from the virus for the country to start to develop immunity from further outbreaks”

That’s the plan. Wow. So we are trying to get something like 40 to 50 million infected here. Going to be an awful lot of not very healthy or old people caught up in that. That’s not a good plan. Sounds like they have decided not to do anything. Rather have people keep making money than keep them safe.”

Totally agree. Surely locking stuff down for a couple of weeks will help dampen the virus down. At least push it into the summer months.

I’d rather take my chances in France or Germany. At least they are trying to still contain it.”

“Dad what’s the new rule about school and being ill. If I cough does that get me a week home isolation.”

Basically those are the new rules

“Well Dad. COUGH. COUGH. That should do it. Wake me about 11am on Monday.”

Well next week I will probably get the chance to check out more yellows. My zero hours contract is living up to it’s zero in the coming days. Next week I might get a couple of hours work at most. So the new sports car and beach apartment in Monte Carlo will have to wait a few more days. But it doesn’t matter in the scheme of things. It really doesn’t. More important things in life. As a much wiser blogger than me put it – it’s time to breathe….

Update

Two hours later news broke that the government has reluctantly banned large public events. Not on health grounds but to relieve pressure on emergency services. I guess the real reason was the events were getting cancelled by the organisers anyway and the government didn’t want to be seen to be dithering.

Panic buying

Let’s be safe out there people … it’s madness.

The news is either full of stories about virus doom or virus induced panic buying. I kinda miss the ‘Britain has gone brexit bonkers’ stories now. So with the images of empty shop shelves, I ventured out to the supermarket with a certain amount of trepidation. My extensive survival prep shopping list was a loaf of bread, a pack of Curly Wurlies, a bottle of milk and tea. That will surely tide us through the end of days.

I arrived at 8.40am which normally ensures that I have the shop to myself apart from the three shop assistants. Not this morning. The car park was heaving. Is it the day before Christmas? Inside was not much better. Rammed with shoppers. Not seen a crowd like this since the ‘Everything for a Pound’ Store had a sale.

It was bizarre watching the frantic shopping. Trolleys rammed full. So many seemingly sensible people falling into the panic buying madness. But this was a very Yorkshire panic. People still had time amongst the panic to stop and talk about the weather. In other parts of the country items like toilet paper, hand gel and paracetamol tablets have been stripped as if consumed by a plague of locusts. Here those items were still well stocked. In fact I didn’t see anyone buying them. No the items of panic choice here were different

  • The saver pack of soap bars (4 for a £1)
  • Cadbury’s Chocolate
  • Tins of mushy peas (one chap had a basket filled with just these)
  • Custard powder
  • Cheese
  • Beer, lager and wine.

I have to say that if I was going to panic buy I would rather stock up on £100 worth of beer and chocolate rather than 50 rolls of bog paper.

My hand basket was easily filled with my items until I arrived at the tea section. No Yorkshire Tea. No pigging Yorkshire Tea. Stripped bare. Oh the humanity. I had to buy another brand. Bloody philistines. The virus crisis is so much worse than I ever imagined. Stand by your pitchforks people.

Brakes

A stream about 5 miles from our little bungalow. Near the boundary of my current world.

It’s funny as a kid I always thought that my world was a small place. We didn’t have much money so holidays would tend to be just day trips on the train to places like Whitby and Scarborough. If we we’re lucky a school trip would take us maybe 50 miles in land. Dad had a car but it was only used sparingly – just for getting him to work. I remember watching exotic places on the TV and thinking one day I want to see them. I looked at books about mountains and so wanted to see The Eiger, The Matterhorn, K2 and Everest. I always thought that as I got older I would travel more. My world would grow and the world would shrink.

For a time it did workout that way and yes I did get to see The Eiger and The Matterhorn. I visited parts of Europe. I even got to see South Africa.

Then the world shifted again. Autism. Bereavement. Money concerns.

Now I find my world rapidly shrinking again and the world growing ever larger. Increasingly son sees comfort in his own little world. Our house, garden and the landscapes that immediately surround him. Longer travel is so difficult for him. It has to be mapped out and carefully controlled. That’s before we factor in the limiting factors of travel as a single parent and money constraints. My world is shrinking again. Even work has to operate within these constraints. My world has shrunk. One of the few bridges into the wider world is the occasional concert. These still work for our son.

We are due to travel to see The Who play in a couple of weeks. We will have to travel by car as public transport here is minimal and stops by evening. Regardless of its availability son struggles with buses, trains and planes. These are likely to induce panic attacks. So we travel everywhere on foot or by car.

Two weeks ago the car was in for a service. They found problems with the brakes which needed some parts to be replaced. The garage said I was ok to drive it for a couple of weeks until the garage could fix it. So this Monday was supposed to be the repair day. The garage phoned today to apologise. They we’re going to have to cancel the repair for a few weeks. They just can’t get the parts. The Parts Suppliers are out of stock and are waiting for new items to arrive from China. The garage is a national chain and all the branches are out of these parts. Apparently all the other rival garages in the area are in the same boat. So the repair is on hold. The suppliers are hoping to have new stock arrive soon but that may not be until April. So I’ve been told to try and really limit the car use until the parts turn up. My world shrinks further.

So in a mirror image of my childhood – the car will only be used sparingly. Just for the occasional short distance work trip and the school runs. A long distance concert trip is probably not a practical option.

My world has shrunk again but as ever we will make the best of it. Think our carbon footprint. Think more fun at home. Enjoy what we have on our doorstep.