I’m going to go totally off-piste here, but I was thinking yesterday, as we took our mandated hourly walk, of any positives we can take from this experience, and I thought of a few. Yes, I’m as surprised as you are by that turn of events, but there you are. Odd things happen under lockdown.
- You get to be a nosy bastard. There’s nothing I love more than a good peer into people’s houses. I grew up on The Esplanade where it was almost regulation for anyone passing to have a good gawk in, and very few of them were discreet about it either. Sadly for them, my parents weren’t much into doing up houses with my mother caustically remarking: ‘There’s people in Africa without their breakfasts’ when we mooted replacing the 70’s style carpet or faded wallpaper. It was hardly worth the effort of the folk staring in with such intensity. But now, instead of looking away, I feel I can peer into stranger’s livings rooms with impunity, under the guise of admiring the cuddly toys and rainbows adorning the windows. I’ve very envious of some of the interiors I’ve spied, and I’m thinking that our front room is lacking a flamboyant feature wall. I should probably be able to get someone in to hang the wallpaper in 2022.
- It’s acceptable to be ‘a bit mad’. Very few of us have ever lived through the like of this before, and please God when it ends, history won’t go repeating itself. It thus feels quite acceptable to be having crazy, apocalyptical thoughts, since the world has been firmly tipped on its arse anyway. I’ve always had a fairly tenuous grip of my marbles, and in moments of high anxiety I fear I’ll lose them altogether. It’s comforting to know that I’m not alone, and that other people are rationing how many times they listen to the news of a day, and are going around in a state of agitation.
- You can sit on your arse of an evening and not feel guilty. I am flipping LOVING this. In normal circumstances, I could be out every night of the week. Yoga, running, the gym, a literary event, some other edifying activity. Maybe just the pub. Belfast is a happening sort of a place, and I’m often stressed because I can’t make it to an event or I’m just to tired or too busy at home. There is just so much guilt attached to everything: feeling bad for not going to yoga when I now it will be a brilliant class, but then feeling bad for not spending time with the kids when I do go. At the minute, I feel I have license to sit on my arse. I’m staying at home, like I’ve been told. The children are very happy.
- Deliveries- oh, how I have LOVED the deliveries. And I’m not talking about bland old Amazon: hell no, I’m talking about when David Torrans from No Alibis rocks up with a signed copy (the last signed copy in the shop no less) of a short story by Claire Keegan. Our very own Jan Carson wrote a super blog on short stories and I’ve since ordered a half a dozen of them since my demented brain can’t cope with anything longer. In the very same day, we had a delivery of four fabulous wines from The Vineyard as it’s been perfect weather for sipping a New Zealand sauvignon blanc in the garden, and I always add ice to eke it out so I don’t end up binned by 8 o’clock. We can’t be having that (not in front of the children).
- We’ve been ordering our coffee from Boden Park which makes our breakfast feel a bit more special. We ordered last Monday morning and a couple of hours later Mr McKeating himself landed up with three packets for us. ‘That’s service for you’ I exclaimed, relieving him of his package at the door (all wiped and disinfected he informed me.) ‘I work for a woman sure,’ he said. ‘There’s no rest for me.’
- The final and most excellent delivery arrived on Friday afternoon when Al himself from Al Gelato appeared with 2 tubs of raspberry ripple, honeycomb, Kinder Bueno and my favourite ‘stracciatella’. He even read my wee note which said that I would reuse the wee spoons from the last time and didn’t need any more. We had a chat over the wall and he admired our cat and it was all very heart-warming indeed. It was like bringing all my very favourite bits of Botanic Avenue and the Ormeau to my door. All we need is for Shed to start ferrying up their roasted chicken and dauphinoise potatoes and we’ll be living our best lockdown life.
I think I can some up everything I’ve mentioned as acts of kindness. Whether we’re being kind to ourselves by having fewer expectations and allowing a rest when it’s needed, or the kindness of others as they bring a little joy to us, by making gorgeous window displays or bringing us goods to brighten our day. We are valuing kindness more and putting to at the top of the list, as a necessity and a priority. It’s brought me some comfort over the last few days, so instead of posting a vitriolic rant at the start of the week I thought I’d go for this instead. Don’t worry though- the home-schooling has to start again later so give it 2 hours and I’ll have plenty of ranty blog-fodder for later in the week.