Hello to the citizen of Mars, reading this blog decades in my future. I like to think that blogs and the 'old' internet will prove to be a valuable historical research tool, in the same way that day to day diaries from the past are so fascinating to we Earth dwellers in the 21st century. I keep this blog occasionally updated for you, and for myself, so that my fifteen year old blog story doesn't suddenly end with a mysterious disappearance.
Despite a two month hiatus, for no other reason than I have nothing in particular to write about, I am surfacing again to record my experiences of the uncertain and often frightening period we find ourselves in; by the time you, dear Mars dweller, read this, it will have been given a name and doubtless many books and articles will have been written about it. So for you, my nameless reader, out there on another planet, these are the details of my life at present, inconsequential and trivial as they are. And despite some difficulties, I count my blessings every day.
For the time being, my Etsy shop is closed. It's the longest period I've taken it offline and I did it with sadness and some trepidation, as it was a valuable source of income, albeit a modest one. However it's impossible for me to post any parcels now; before 'lock down' (and not being near a Post Office) I could wait at the post box at the top of the road and hand prepaid parcels to the nice postie who collects the mail, but it's not a risk I'm prepared to take now, for her or myself.
Joe is a key worker - he has his ID and a covering letter from his company, in case he gets stopped by the police. He has no choice but to go to work, as a mental health support worker. We are minimising his contact with people as much as we can; he gets a taxi to and from his place of work, paying online beforehand (to avoid cash). Previously he kept the cost down by using the 'school bus' in the mornings and evenings when he could, but of course even that stopped two weeks ago. As a key worker, he gets a fare discount, which helps. His company were ahead of the curve with the situation and were already taking stringent measures a week before the government announcement. So he's as safe as he can be, though I am happier when he is at home.
Food is not too bad. Living in the countryside without nearby shops or a car means that I always have at least two weeks worth of store cupboard and freezer food in hand. Almost all of our grocery shopping was, before this, done online. I took delivery of our last order ten days ago; a third of it was missing (and naturally those things were the things I wanted most; flour, pasta, rice etc). As my Etsy shop is shut, it will be the last delivery for sometime, while we haul our belts in. I have had several periods in my life when I was young and fending for myself, when I had little or no food and went hungry for days, living on one small meal or often nothing at all. More recently, Joe and I have been through similarly tough times, and had to ration food in order to pay the mortgage. So living simply is not an issue and I'm grateful for what we have, because there are people in far worse situations than we.
Joe buys what he can from the 'we sell everything' shop near his workplace, just once a week to minimise contact. As long as we can get milk, bread and baked beans, we will be fine.
(I never thought I'd see the day when pasta become a once a week treat though; I hope that anyone who has stockpiled fifty bags or so actually eats it eventually).
We live a secluded life as it is and I have never been so thankful to be where we are. Yet even here, in the Shropshire countryside, the normally busy road outside the cottage has been eerily quiet. At any other time this would be a cause for relief, but not under these circumstances. My day to day routine has barely changed; I've been out in public twice in the last five months and barely talk to anyone in 'real life' apart from Joe and the occasional video chat with a best friend. I'm an introvert by nature, but I do, strangely, like the 'chatter' of other people's normal lives going on around me and I miss it.
There was a day, back in 2013, a few months after Andy died, when I was in the bedroom, on a summery Sunday afternoon, trying to play my guitar. It was silent, save for the odd car passing. I was slowly coming to terms with my loss and finding myself so totally alone, unable to easily get anywhere for human interaction, in a strange county where I knew no-one. It occurred to me that I could die, there and then, and nobody would realise for at least a week. During that terrible period, I looked loneliness and isolation in the face, trembled and then I stared it down. I slowly accepted that this was how things were and built a life in which I could cope. It's rather bizarre that this limited way of life is temporarily the norm globally, and while I am adjusted to living in my small bubble, I feel for those who need day to day human interaction.
One day, hopefully, this will be over. Our world will return to some kind of normal, though drastically changed and with great sacrifice by so many, especially front line health workers, our modern day heroes. So to you, my future reader from Mars, I send a little wave from the past and to anyone else reading this at present. Stay safe, stay at home if you can and be kind, because without kindness, we really are borked.
(P.S - find me more regularly on my Instagram account)