Une vie banale, la France profonde

MJK, Magrie, France


13ème jour du confinement: EVERYDAY IS LIKE SUNDAY


I've always liked the title of that Morrissey song but long ago parted company with the Mancunian moper’s miserable outlook on life… However, the line rings true now: every day really is like Sunday, with everyone home and trying to find new ways to fight off the ennui of house arrest.


Urban dwellers without much access to outside space are turning to YouTube, Spotify, Netflix and on-demand music and film providers. Broadband demand has surged – our local feed, slow at the best of times, now stutters and hiccups in the evenings under the strain of streams and downloads. Social media is the new normal, the cyberequivalent of chatting over the fence, meeting for a cuppa or going down the pub.


Tonight we’ve arranged a couple of social events: a six o’clock pre-prandial apero with friends in a neighbouring village to celebrate my last day of injections and nurse visits; then later a catch-up with old friends in London. My partner is struggling with the tech side – how to link the TV to the laptop and webcam so it feels like everyone’s in the room. He’ll get there!


My oldest son is banged up in Bangkok, on the 23rd floor of an apartment tower. He’s been off work as a teacher for over two weeks now, and I don’t envy his almost hermetic new lifestyle. But we have video chats regularly and today he was sporting a red face after overdoing it sunbathing on his tiny balcony.


Voices via VOIP span the continents, while video fleshes out the stories. People browse videos of sunny beaches, wander through the Louvre and the Uffizi, watch free operas or pop concerts thanks to the altruism of performers and copyright holders, climb Mount Fuji or wander the Cornish Coastal Path. 


We can be anywhere, see anyone, be anyone as we explore our online personae. Just as long as we don’t go outside.


All day exercise

David AP Thomas, North Yorkshire


Walked up through Norman's field this morning. Norman is the small-holder who farms just above where we live. There is a cluster of sheds full of what has been thrown in because "it might come in handy", and amongst this a large, ginger, long haired & friendly boar called Rufus. We carried on up the hill. It's wonderful how quickly you leave the rather undistinguished village where we live below, and the Aire valley opens up, all the way past Sharphaw and up to the dales. We could see snow showers sweeping in from the east and then sunshine, then more showers. It seems wrong to travel elsewhere for a walk when we can climb behind the house into this strange, scrappy and wind blasted landscape. It's not beautiful in the conventional sense but it has savour.


Musings from self isolation

Billy Hearld, York


Today was a lazy Sunday afternoon spent in lazing about in jumpers and woollen socks, listening to Salome by Strauss and writing. Outside the wind howled and sleet fell against the window, however, myself and my family were impervious to it, each of us pleasantly sleepy as we whiled away the hours, my sister and mother baking bread in the kitchen as the sound of my father playing his guitar floated through the house, mingling with the sounds of opera that warbled in my room as I typed away at my laptop from the comfort of my bedroom. I rose only to eat some freshly cooked bacon and eggs in the morning and to wolf down some cheese and chive scones at lunch and was glad to crawl back into the comfort of my duvet and allow the music from my speakers to wash over me.


The foxes were the first to notice

RJG, Birmingham


 A startled clattering of wings.


The heart of Cornwall

Tristan, Truro, Cornwall, England


This morning we rose to an intruder! As the household dozed in bed, my Son ventured downstairs and immediately shouted up at us, ‘there’s a strange cat in the house!’ Given that not much seems to be happening at present, this was a cause of great excitement and we all bustled down the stairs to take a peek at our uninvited guest, we were greeted by the sight of a rather large kitten, who didn’t run off as most cats would, indeed he just sat there quietly eating our cats food and what a handsome tabby he was as well. So naturally we all chatted to him and I ventured over stroked him a couple of times and picked him up, he was so friendly and sweet and before we all knew what we were doing the whole family gathered around him fussing and petting him, when I suddenly exclaimed ‘coronavirus!’ We all looked at each other in dismay suddenly and simultaneously recalling the advice not to pet other people’s animals for fear of contamination. The intruder was promptly put outside as a sudden bustle of hand washing took place, what a way to start the day. 


On reflection it seems to me that since the nation has been locked in their homes, we are all appreciating our pets more than ever. 


In our household however, I have the feeling this appreciation may not be reciprocated as our calico cat ‘Kitty’ now seems to find our constant presence rather annoying, I imagine she wishes we were back at work and school to give her some peace and quiet. Ginger however, being the baby boy he is, seems to be in heaven and follows us around all day mewing in his funny little husky voice.  


It’s the Easter Holidays and I am pleased for the break, for the first time in my teaching career I had been teaching my A Level students online and what a strange experience it has been. I now realise how much of what I do and love is about direct human interaction and how lonely it can be talking at a blank impassive screen (even if at the other end you know there are unseen faces). As a bid to engage my learners, I made my last lesson of the term a pet show and tell! What a relief to suddenly see all those smiling faces as we all sat huddled around our laptops with our cameras on. There were introductions to Pugs and Spaniels and Whippets amongst other dogs and any number of cats of all shapes and sizes, we were even introduced to a hamster! It was nice to see the students laugh and smile and show off their much loved companions. So good for them to have a moment of lightness in what is a very worrying time for them and their futures.  


I find myself pondering, how is it that I can welcome a whole host of my students pets into my home (albeit via the internet), but we are scared of a real life kitten? These are indeed strange times!


Thoughts from the Suffolk Coast

Harris G, Between Aldeburgh and Southwold


Toothache in the middle of the night last night and then that horrid ‘oh no’ feeling - wondering if any dentist will actually be open. Do dentists undertake treatments during lockdown? In the darkness, I briefly imagined a world of pain-stricken, wailing people - all wincing and holding their chins and smelling of clove oil - standing in widely separated queues of misery - leading in to minty blue surgeries where masked, gloved, gowned-up dentists wield metre long needles and drills - while their assistants stand in two metre silence with glasses of pink mouth wash and kidney bowls ...  


Two painkillers then back to sleep. Awoke to a dull grey sky and sleety showers. Then sunshine. Then rain again. The day was largely uneventful. Pottered about.  


Baked - firstly cheese scones and then lemon squares. We’ll never eat them all. A friend rang. He was in tears. Frustrated and lonely. Says he cannot cope with being so sealed off, so alone.  


Neighbour spoke from the other side of the road. 

Bed now. Two painkillers then hopefully some sleep


“Survival” diary

Susan, Country Victoria, Australia


Temperature checks and hand washing precede every trip out of our front gate. Today we need a few supplies, and I travel 15 minutes to a small town where I routinely do my weekly shop. It is quiet and calm. Even more than my town, this one depends on weekend day trippers for its prosperity. I know people are flouting the recommendations, but surely not here? The baker and the produce store tell me yesterday was dreadful, the town bustled with people from away. Despite the money they bring no one wants them to come. I feel disappointed at people’s selfishness and sense of entitlement. Further restrictions have been introduced tonight, perhaps that will end it. My phone has a message from my service provider telling me to stay home & I wonder with paranoia if they are tracking my movements. I am relieved when I get home and get into the garden. The sun is warm on my back as I sow the peas and broad beans in neat rows. I think of my parents, whose lives together started in the shadow of World War Two. Lives built on uncertainty and optimism. Always looking forward and hoping for the best, I feel them watching my back.


Midwife 42

Emma, NZ


Two days since my last shift and I feel good. A potter about in the garden, turning things over, pruning, clipping, hands in the sandy earth and I feel a little more like myself. The last dregs of sun in a sheltered spot is warm enough to sit and read, cat in lap.   


The children are on officially sanctioned early school hols - and couldn't be happier. Last week they begged to be let outside and not forced to sit in front of computers for online classes - and yet now will happily spend hours glued to the very same screens eschewing fresh air.. such is their contrary nature.   


The Boy has decided to see if he can watch "Every episode of Dr Who. EVER. from the REAL beginning". The girl likes a triumvirate of Audio Harry Potter, Youtube videos, and drawing anime. Things could be worse.   


I have decided to watch no Covid coverage at all. I'm going to sit in the sun - for as long as it lasts - re-read dog eared Poirot paperbacks and drink tea.


A Week in the life of Edward & Molly

Carla, South Norfolk


Dear Edward (5) and Molly (3)


School, nursery and all our groups are now closed and cancelled, due to the corona virus so I thought I'd write to you so you know why we are not formally home schooling and so one day you can read what a normal day in the life of us consists of:

Monday  23.03.2020


Dear Edward and Molly


We looked at sounds and words on the boards (kitchen cupboards) over breakfast. We looked at the similarities in the names Molly, Poppy and Holly.


Edward wrote the numbers 1-9 and we looked at the spellings of 17-20.


You both took a plug apart. Tomorrow we will put it back together and learn more about all of the parts.


We flew our cat kite and a solar rocket kite on the common for ages, we heard the church bells ring 12 and strike 1. We learnt about the air inside the black tube heating up to make the kite rise and when Edward ran across the common he said he could hear his heart pounding. Molly and I could feel it outside his chest! We can't wait for a sunny but not windy day to fly the black kite again.


We rode Big-e our electric bike to the common, collected loads of free books from school and got eggs from Brenda & Neville's chickens.


We attended an online version of Pete's Music and you both joined in a lot - 5 little monkeys, sleeping bunnies, horsey horsey and using instruments.


We started sewing projects that you both received for Christmas - Molly made a heart shaped bag and Edward started a snowman decoration.


Edward, you did some amazing speedy reading today, picking up loads of books from school really inspired you. You also played outside in the garden and Mummy read you numerous books either from the library or our new stash from school.


As we cycled past the school, Edward saw the gates closed and said he loves going to school. I asked what he would miss most while it's closed and he said everything, then his friends. I asked who he would miss the most and he said Esme and Amelia so I have messaged their mummies so you can video call them soon.


Here's to more sunny days.


Love from Mummy.x

Tuesday  24.03.2020


Dear Edward & Molly


Our day started with an unexpected hamster cage clean out as Siri had pulled her water down in the night and it had emptied in all the sawdust. We have just started picking her up in her cage or playpen (plastic tub) and she climbs off but is getting used to us. We gave Siri some new bedding and watched her make her bed before going to sleep for the day.


As usual we did phonics and spellings with breakfast - soft boiled eggs. With the shells we made cress egg heads and are looking forward to watching them root and shoot.


We made bird feeders using pine cones, coconut shells, lard and bird seed. A robin, blue tit and long tailed tit visited them!!!!!


Inspired by Siri we made a den in the living room with blankets and a play tent, we had snack time in the den and hid from Daddy who is now working from home every day in the dining room.


We tried our first group video call to Meema and Nicola and Poppy and it was a success, it was great to see them and hear what they're up to. 


We put the plug back together and looked at how to remember which side the blue and brown wires go.


Daddy put Edward's pedals back on his bike and as soon as he did, with a few holds of the seat, Edward you were away! It didn't even take you long to learn to push off and get yourself going. We opened the wooden and metal gates and you kept going around and around the house. Well done Edward. We then went up and down the lane to the concrete by the pond so you could have a long ride.


Now that Edward doesn't need his balance bike we put the seat down and Molly you started whizzing around on that. You kept asking for the seat to be put up higher and are really fast.


Daddy went for a run and Mummy went for a bike ride. It was another really nice sunny day.


We are now only allowed to go out for essential journeys - food shop, work and exercise. It is a very strange time. 


Thank goodness for the good weather, but a shame we can't bike ride to meet Meema or fly our kites on the common for at least 3 weeks.


Love from Mummy.x

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