Waiting for the furniture

Monday, April 6

I Zoom my editor, all I see is the top of his balding pate. He’s holding his head. I think I hear muffled sobs. We are all a little bit fragile in our heads during this crisis, so after five minutes I clear my throat. Not too loudly, as I don’t want him to think I’m carrying coronavirus symptoms.

“Hi,” I say breezily. He adjusts his screen, jumpily, and we start our meeting.

“Everything OK at your end,” I ask, when obviously it isn’t.

He seems to be at the end of his wits, but I don’t want to get the wrong stick of the end so I wait.

“It’s just the readers,” he moans.

“Which ones?” I ask.

“All those that tell me that coronavirus is a hoax. “When will you tell the other side of the story?” one asked me yesterday. Another one said “No more numbers!”

I don’t know what to say. Then it comes to my turn to say something. “Well, don’t take it personally. Look on the bright side. Monaco attracts a lot of interesting high-achieving types, and variety is the life of spice.” Later we come to the really difficult bit. Finishing a Zoom session isn’t easy. One doesn’t want to be the first one to hang up, but then it’s ridiculous to spend several minutes saying “Goodbye,” then listening for the other side to say the same, and if they don’t respond how rude of them because they’ve already left to put the kettle on.

Tuesday, April 7

Off shopping. This is now the high point of every week. It’s quite tricky, because my fridge hasn’t yet arrived, so I need to buy food that will serve me well for five days, with a supplementary shopping trip to tide me over until the next big one. Fortunately, the lavatory in the flat is at the back of the house, far away from any sunshine and always cool, so it serves as a temporary food store. Since I gave up factory-farmed food some time ago, this does tend to limit my choice. On the other hand, a vegetarian pizza will last four days.

Wednesday, April 8

Absolutely nothing interesting happens in my new apartment, especially since Helen the hydrangea gave up the ghost. Was it something I said? Like most other people I am glued to the news, trying to work out what’s happening in the outside world and how long this will last. How many more weeks can I bear to be locked up, or down, with a dying hydrangea?

Thursday, April 9

It appears that the world’s biggest anglo-saxon nations are going to come out of the coronavirus crisis particularly badly. No surprise in the case of Trump’s America, but the UK is a real shambles, too. There isn’t one UK cabinet minister I would want to be alone with for two minutes, never mind go on a camping trip. It’s taken a crisis of this dimension to clearly illustrate what incompetent, deceitful and empty-headed losers they really are.

The British parliament has one chamber too many, and it would be a great improvement in terms of the talent pool if the House of Commons were to be abolished. Although the abilities of the upper chamber have been watered down by political peerages, like Tony Blair’s hairdresser, there are many survivors from the ancient regime who know how to manage a large country house, estate and miles of salmon fishing. They have organisational skills that are not appreciated, and if the bailiff, gamekeeper or steward does the job, that’s neither here nor there since they must also be managed. Alas, the country has frittered away its last hopes in the way the French did in 1700 plus something.

Friday, April 10

My brother, who owns a considerable chunk of Somerset, is going into poultry, so he tells me with a straight face. Actually, I can’t tell because we are not Zooming but ’talking’ by email. This is all the rage in the UK now, apparently. Poultry. Vast swathes of countryside not already despoiled by motorways are being give over to industrial chicken farms and piggeries. I can understand the piggeries a little better because of the logical link between keeping pigs, killing them for meat, and then feeding the outcome to a population that is already overweight and decidedly porcine.

His chickens haven’t arrived as yet, as they are waiting to be inoculated. Good luck to them.

Saturday, April 11

I see that Zoom has been abandoned in Singapore, where it was being used for distance teaching, after pornographic images interspersed themselves with algebraic equations. Hasn’t happened to me, as yet. I am not sure I’d appreciate the difference. Talking of which, Home Secretary Priti Patel, the one with the permanent sneer, has been wheeled out to talk to the peasants. That this woman, whose hobby is tearing the wings off living butterflies, should represent the UK government in front of the TV cameras in daylight hours is an abomination beyond belief. Almost. I gave up all hope years go.

Sunday, April 12, Easter Sunday

In normal times I would have gone to church to pray for a return to feudalism. Now I have to do it at home.

to be continued for longer than we would like

Jeff Daniels’ contributions are published in the interests of editorial diversity, and any views expressed are not necessarily those of the publishers.