So many questions: – What are social distancing procedures on pavements? Should I tint my own eyebrows? Shall I grow a beard?
As far as pavements are concerned, I think there should be a very clear rule that the person on the outside steps into/across the road (if it’s quiet) or onto the kerb, while smiling politely and saying something like, “Greetings, my fine fellow! May God’s blessing rest upon you this day!”
Failing that, “Hello”.
They should also look friendly and nod in a “We’re-all- in-this together” sort of way. It is rude to avoid eye contact. After all, that’s all most of us have as the basis for any relationships at the moment, outside our own households. Meanwhile, the person on the inside should walk as closely as possible to their edge of the pavement, squishing up against a wall or putting their head in the hedge or mounting any conveniently placed verge, in an obvious attempt to help out here.
So, whoever it was who swerved across me from the inside of the pavement to the outside (while I was preparing to step into the road) causing a near collision and possible contamination – well, I forgive you, but many wouldn’t, so take note…
When I typed ‘How to tint…’ into google, ‘…your own eyebrows’ came up immediately, so clearly I’m not the only one here. However, the person on the video was young and far too thin and healthy-looking and I didn’t actually like her eyebrows. I didn’t think ‘How to tint your own eyebrows for older, less healthy looking people’ would yield much of a return so I just clicked randomly until I found a watchable one. Couldn’t do it. A startling array of implements are needed (I did not realise this. I just lean back and close my eyes) – developer liquid, dye cream, an angled brush, cotton buds. Nope. I need my eyebrow lady. She has quite long arms. It could work…
The beard, well, I have one hair, just one, which grows under my chin. It’s dark brown and wiry and I like fondling it when I’m planning what to write. My husband occasionally waves a pair of scissors at me with a glint in his eye but it’s a happy little hair and I’m always loath to cut it. Until it starts getting stuck in zips and things. Then I wave the scissors at him (I once tried doing it myself and nearly slit my throat. Ouch.)
But what if I let it grow and just went zipless? It might encourage others to make their way out of my chin. They say, if you’re going to grow a beard, Lockdown’s a good time. My husband’s is coming on nicely…
The questions are everywhere, most of them far more serious – How will they ease restrictions? When can we travel to see family? Will we be safe? Then there are darker ones – How can people bear their losses? Why has this happened? Will the world ever be the same again?
Nobody likes uncertainty. The problem is, it’s everywhere, in everything. Those of us who have apoplexy when our train is late, are looking back, longing for a train, any kind of train. That takes you anywhere other than from your bed to your table to your garden to your stove to your sofa and back to bed again. And sometimes out into woods and parks to feast longing eyes on bluebells or other human beings.
The other day I was walking through the woods near our house and I saw a little girl with auburn hair standing near a tree. She looked exactly like someone I teach (erm, used to teach) at school. I was about to say Hello, excitedly, but when I got to an acceptable distance, I saw that she was a stump. I must be missing children.
The next day I was walking up the hill towards the town to post a parcel. Visiting the post office, in Smiths, where you can also catch tantalising glimpses of other things like books and shiny stationery, is the equivalent to a day out in London. I was in a rare old mood of excitement and anticipation. Until I saw four people sitting at the side of the path, in the shade, wearing rucksacks. They were watching me and I was watching them, wondering how they could get away with it. Until I realised they were bushes, wearing blossom. I must be missing…back packers?
When I got home there was a man in the garden who looked like my husband. That’s because it was my husband. He spends all his playtime in the garden at the moment or reading his Perfect Lawns book. His Lockdown Project is digging up the daisy plants from the roots so they won’t grow again. This will take a while as the lawn was covered in them.
“How on earth are you going to do all that?” I asked at the beginning, looking at our white carpet of lawn.
My husband looked at me with those bright eyes of his. “One daisy at a time,” he said.
They say long term projects are good in Lockdown. They can give us focus. I’m finishing a novel. My daughter is learning Sign Language. My son and daughter in law are doing Adventurous Cooking -like making pasta – and doing all the quizzes in the world. If you practise signing or use the pasta machine, or dig up daisies, it’s easier to apply your mind to the here and now than to wonder about all the questions and what the answers might be.
I can handle the unpredictability of pedestrians, grey eyebrows and imaginary friends. I’m growing quite fond of them. The darker questions are harder. So I will stop asking them.
Instead, I will pray and remind myself to trust God who has the long view, beyond the woods where children masquerade as tree stumps and back packers rest with blossom in their hair. I will split open words and tease out their meaning, learn how to sign, lose in Family Quizzes. I will forget about a beard.
I will ignore all the crossings out in my diary and allow myself a stab of joy in morning light, thanking God that I am blessed. I am here.
And I will try to live this Lockdown Life, one daisy at a time.