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It's life - grim - and not as we know it or, I do hope Bobby Ewing is back in the shower...

Updated: Mar 21

Today was one of my two days off. I'm a lucky, lucky person and took phased retirement. I know, I know: I don't LOOK old enough. I feel old enough. I'd decided I'd go in today because at the time I made the decision on Wednesday, I didn't know when I'd see my colleagues again, and I really like them. Well most of them. Some of them... One or two. No, generally they're ok and some are positively awesome so it seemed a good idea to pop in.


When I got there the school was definitely quieter than it had been on Monday. There was a subdued buzz in places as the kids walked around, perhaps less noise and boistering around than usual. (Yes, I know it's not a word, but it works for me!). I overheard snippets of conversation that were clearly virus related and there was a bit of a last day of term feeling I suppose. It's hard to call how it felt different, but it did.


My job share colleague had been doing a writing exercise with one of our year 9 classes. A few of their books were sitting on the desk and the ones I looked at all mentioned Corona. They were writing as present selves to future selves, or as future selves looking back and there was a tide of optimism there along with an acknowledgement that they were living a rather unprecedented bit of history. I liked the way they'd adapted the task to vent their feelings.


My own feelings are still swinging around like Yeats' widening gyres. I feel slightly lopsided, as if I'm going to spiral off into something even weirder. And I keep thinking still, it's not real: any second now I'm going to wake up...


Then I started thinking about Bobby Ewing in the shower in Dallas all those years ago. For those of you not old enough to be partially retired who don't remember the magnificent Dallas with good old J.R. Ewing, his drunken wife Sue Ellen (S'wellin), and brother Bobby, here's what they did. They wrote Bobby out. He died. And then there was a whole series where loads of things happened. And then, at the beginning of one show, Bobby came out of the shower and it had all been a dream. He was alive! How we chattered about this! There was no internet but if it happened now just imagine the opportunity for memes. Anyway, thinking about this I started indulging in dreams of Bobby in the shower. (And he was fit enough that it isn't an unpleasant sort of musing). I thought, ok, so we get to reset, how far do we go back? For the country we'd have to at least wipe out Brexit, Boris and Mr Trump. For me, probably, I'd go back to July 1996 and stay in bed to avoid meeting the man I later married. Or never move to south London in 95... I mean who moved to the Ferrier Estate in Kidbrooke, in the 90s on purpose. Really. I swapped my Hackney flat for one on the Ferrier. Then I thought, I could go back even further. Incidentally, if I skipped back to the Spanish Flu epidemic and was able to rescue my grandma's first husband - have him step out of a tin bath maybe - I would wipe myself out. Because if he survived, grandma wouldn't have married grandpa and I wouldn't exist - along with eighteen other human beings and... But I digress. I think in the interests of sanity I'd do a country reset back to the moment before David Cameron announced the referendum. And then with special magic powers I'd make him trip up and bump his head and have a sudden and specific amnesia that meant he could no longer remember he intended a referendum. Ahh such impossible dreams.


But there is no shower and I'm here and we're all here and life is suddenly very strange. I do not like it, not one little bit. Yes, a cheeky day or two off the school routine is always welcome, but a snow day would have done. That would have been lovely thank you. Maybe two or three even. But this! Who would have thought that the thought of crashed routines could be so difficult. And who could have dreamed of all the other dominoes that would start knocking each other over in an unstoppable spiral.


And after all that, we are back in school on Monday. This is causing a little anxiety. Who will come in? What will we do? How will we manage them if there are masses. Doesn't it negate the point of isolation if the staff and lots of students are still at school? And behind all that there are the other questions. Who will get ill? Who will die?


I'm sure we all have loved ones who are vulnerable. I'm sure we are all terrified that some months or years of having them in our lives might be stolen and that brings me to my last point. Which is beef. 'I'm all right.' I' won't catch it.' 'It's all bit of an over reaction isn't it?' And to those I want to say congratulations. You win the award for Most Selfish Biped Ever.

I won't care very much about how okay I am if certain people have been rudely hoiked off life's stage before their fat lady has sung. There is no silver lining in that cloud, no 'on the other hand', no 'but...' It will not do.


Last question for today - what does one do while social distancing? Tomorrow I'm going to hunt for spring. The picture beneath is of snowdrops which I found in nearby fields on the 31st January. It was the day my mother died, and although it was undoubtedly her time to go as she was 91 and had had a long and awful illness, it was no easier for that. So finding these, her favourite flowers in a field, felt like a sign. As did the complete and perfect rainbow I saw driving back from her funeral.


So tomorrow I am going to hunt for something beautiful in those fields.



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