Tuesday 17th March 2020
Second day of Non-Sick Sprog’s home-schooling.
That can wait. Today can be a late start. First, I must get to Aldi before all the shelves there are empty. Tesco has run out of tomatoes. And I need tomatoes. Tinned, boxed, tubed or free-fall – I need them!
But, before I risk my good health, by mixing with the cough-all-over-everyone locals who frequent Aldi (okay, so I’m a snob!), I don my face mask. I’m the only person in Aldi wearing a face mask and it makes me quite a celebrity. And the strange thing is that everyone seems to think I have ear plugs in:
‘First I’ve seen, that one!’
‘Stupid, isn’t it?’
‘They don’t even work!’
‘Yes, I agree!’
‘A complete waste of time!’
‘Anyone would think this is the apocalypse!’
I hold my head up high (I know that I look beautiful in this shade of grey) and proceed to make my purchases: six cartons of tomato passata. But – I’m stopped in my tracks, as the Cashier (the person who just said I was ‘stupid’), tells me I’m only allowed to buy four of them. This is fair enough, I think, in the circumstances; so, in spite of being ‘stupid’, I decide not to argue and put on my best smile. Then, I remember, she can’t see my smile. I sneer. She can’t see my sneer. I stick my tongue out.
The mask tastes disgusting.
Once, out of Aldi, it feels good to take the mask off and get some fresh air (how long do droplets of other people’s spittle last in an open-air carpark?); the downside being that I’ve only managed to secure four cartons of tomato passata. Will I be recognised if I go back in for a second round?
I drive to Sainsbury’s.
It helps to be slightly taller than the average lady shopper. At the back corner of the top shelf, I spot one last box of tomato puree tubes. Climbing up on the lower shelf (I’m not Miranda Hart tall!), I manage to hook a claw around my prey.
‘Well done!’ another shopper exclaims.
How many tubes of tomato puree am I allowed?
I take two and suggest to my audience that she might like to grab a couple too. There are no more where these came from!
As I leave Sainsbury’s, I reflect that no-one made any comment about the only face-mask wearer in town. Clearly, the folk in Sainsbury’s recognise a great beauty when they see one!
A better clientele altogether (no, I’m not a snob – I usually shop at Tesco, and I didn’t pay a visit to Waitrose, did I?)!
Non-Sick Sprog might only be in Key Stage Three, but all such categorisation labels are a thing of the past, now that we’ve gone post-apocalyptic. And, anyway, all three of my Sprogs are geniuses – I get her started on a Foundation GCSE textbook. Who knows, by the end of our imprisonment, she might be up to Grade B standards, and then she can start on the Higher Paper stuff! Or maybe even the AS Level!
Grade B? I’m out of date. Old. Past it. The grading’s changed from letters to numbers, hasn’t it? Stuff the numbers! I liked the old system, and this is home-school – my home-school! I could even change the whole grading system thing again, if I wanted to. How about colours? Purple for >90%?
Non-Sick Sprog whizzes through a load of arithmetic, and we move onto English Literature, i.e. she moves onto English Literature (I get on with other important tasks like knitting and napping). She’s reading ‘Holes’ by Louis Sachar. I would tell her to stop after Chapter 1, but she seems absorbed, so I let her carry on. Before long (not sure of exact length of time due to said nap), she’s halfway through the book. Might as well let her carry on to the end, whilst I catch up with today’s news.
How many cases of Coronavirus? How many deaths? How close is it getting to my home territory?
The news is all pretty depressing, but my spirits are lifted by ITV’s Piers Morgan. It’s all very entertaining to watch him talking over the protests of his Co-Presenter; she’s trying to convince him that he ought to let the guest speak for long enough to respond to at least one of his non-stop probes. Rather amusingly, Piers then goes on to bemoan the fact that no Tory MPs will deliver themselves up to him for interrogation. Piers, I love you!
And I do, of course, love our Tory PM – old Boris. Sadly, some young bird called Carrie, got to Boris first. And now she’s up the duff, in the midst of a pandemic. Not great timing! For a moment, I almost feel sorry for the old geezer. I mean, he’s just heard he’s going to be a new dad, all over again (i.e. an old dad), and he’s somehow, at the same time, got to man up and be a figurehead for a load of stressed out Brits, struggling to come to term with simple instructions about coughing into crooks of elbows and washing their hands for 20 seconds.
I don’t spend too long feeling bad for Boris; Non-Sick Sprog’s put her book down – she’s bored!
I tell her to select three characters: to draw and label them with personality & character traits and how they relate to others (not well, in Boris’ case, but I guess he’s not a character in Holes) and to find three quotations that provide the evidence.
Two hours later, and Non-Sick Sprog is still in the process of drawing the first character! Not a label in sight! Still, who cares about all that vigour, rigour and pace stuff – this is home-school – and my house is completely devoid of Senior members of staff and OFSTED inspectors. My teaching is, therefore, by my own certification, outstanding!
I decide it’s time to check up on Sick Sprog. Found out, yesterday, that he doesn’t have Coronavirus, but must still finish his 14 days of isolation. He’s not so sick after all. He can, and will, join my home school! I give him some Higher Maths stuff to do. My care and attention is not gratefully received. He completes a few easy sums and then comes to a standstill, telling me the next question is too hard, and he’s not even going to attempt it. I give him some creative writing to do.
Not-So-Sick, Sick Sprog doesn’t do any creative writing. Tells me he doesn’t want to be behind the others when he goes back to school, so he wants to do the work set by his teachers. He looks online. His teachers haven’t set him any work. I am a teacher, I tell him, and I’m setting the work. He tells me he doesn’t want to be ahead of the others when he goes back to school by doing work that they won’t have done. I give up on the circular arguments.
I’m an ‘outstanding’ teacher, so it’s his loss!
Somehow, in between the prevarication stuff, I’ve found time to keep checking my mobile phone for text messages and emails, and things are not good. Two of my cousins, I’m informed, may have contracted Coronavirus, and one is seriously ill with pneumonia. This is terrible news, and my relaxed and laid-back approach to the day is fast dwindling.
I text my Adult Sprog: ‘Come back home, now! Stop socialising with your friends. You need to be here under your Mother’s watchful eye(s). And, when back, get yourself signed up online for Jobseeker’s Allowance; the catering industry’s about to go down the pan. Your job is about to go down the pan. Come back. Don’t touch any hard surfaces on your return journey and wash your hands the second you enter my disinfected abode!’
‘If I come back,’ she replies. ‘Will you ever let me out of the house again?’
‘No, I won’t!’
‘See you tomorrow, then! I’m staying at my friend’s for a sleepover!’
‘No. No, don’t do that. Boris says no-one is allowed to socialise. Come back!’
‘I’m not at the pub. I’m with a friend. One friend. One friend who lives in the middle of the countryside.’
‘Oh, well come back anywhere. There might be cows around there. I’ve heard that cows can spread Coronavirus. Come back!’
‘There are no cows, and no pigs and no sheep!’
‘Come back anyway!’
‘Oh, okay then!’
Gone are the days of my dictatorship. It seems that I’ve brought up a Sprog who, as an adult, has a mind of its own! What is going on here?
Have I failed?
‘Boris, help me!’
By The Silly-Savvy Salopian
UK Coronavirus News update : 71 deaths, 1,950 diagnosed cases