Lock down hell – week 7

Days 44 -50. Week 7

Monday 27 April 2020 – Day 44

Week 7 begins. Everyone feels a bit more buoyant in Casa Carter today after a busy and fairly productive weekend including plenty of fresh air. Even Balou is smiling after his long walk yesterday.

Some more stats for you. Apparently in Malaga there are just over 3,060 confirmed cases of Coronavirus. There are 103 towns in Malaga province and 38 of these have zero registered cases of Coronavirus whilst 47 towns do not exceed 10 cases. These are the smaller villages clearly. Coin has 23 cases and Alhaurin el Grande has 37. The highest registered are Malaga city which has 1,652 cases and Marbella with 222.

If Covid’s ‘grades’ improve by May 10 there is an expectation of deescalation methods to help get the country functioning again. Concerns are if quarantine restrictions are lifted prematurely flattened curves can suddenly grow again. Something I saw last night on the new Netflix documentary ‘Coronavirus Explained’. Quite an interesting overview especially in explaining how viruses spread. I’m becoming quite morbidly fascinated by pandemics. I’ll be great fun at parties.

Coincidentally we have also started the series ‘See’. About a 21st century pandemic that wiped out all but 2 million of the population but leaves the future mankind blind until twins are born with their vision. Ladies note: if you are going to survive a pandemic then a new world with Jason Momoa in it is a definite plus.

On the subject of coincidences, two years ago today I am reminded that son had an accident at school when a classmate flicked a jacket at him and the zipper caught his eye damaging his iris. He was confined to barracks for about a week which seemed unbearable at the time (how so pre-CV19) and for the first 5 days wasn’t allowed to move in case he hemorrhaged. So we took drastic measures (see photo 1) which I’ve also just considered as a solution to get him to do his school work. Two years on after taking him to the river yesterday I am reminded of why I’ve spent so much time in A&E (see photo 2).

Tuesday 28 April 2020 – Day 45.

I’m not a fan of Tuesdays. It’s a bit drab and listless. It doesn’t have that ‘get up and go’ ummpfff like a Monday and no ‘pre-weekend buzz’ of a Thursday or Friday. Wednesday is nestled nicely in the middle cosy and comfortable. But Tuesday is just nothing really. A bluerghh day.

On that note nothing much to report today. After Terry Waite’s ordeal I’m now reading Unorthodox-The Scandalous Rejection of my Hasidic Roots by Deborah Feldman. We watched the 4 part series the other week on Netflix but I feel compelled to know more so this is Feldman’s memoir the film is based on. I am not at all religious but I am intrigued by others who are devout and especially those verging on cults – the Waco series was also unbelievably weird and fascinating.

Anyway Clive James section over and on the subject of cults…I feel the need to share that I too used to be part of a very secret sect.

I’ve never spoken too much about it to outsiders. It was always forbidden and this secret has been kept private for nigh on 40 years. But I feel it is time to break some confidentiality rules and divulge some background.

Please bear in mind I was just a child. Innocent and easily led. I was recruited early on by the ring-leader and founding member who went by the code name: Pastry. She encouraged myself (Spike) and a few others – Bounce, Droopy and Jaffa – to enlist. We all had to swear an oath of devotion and allegiance. We had a secret language and congregated a few times a week in our parent’s garages. We weren’t allowed in the house. We made a mess. And we were a bit noisy.

The name of our secret society was ‘The RC Club’. It was so classified it became the talk of the junior school. There were those who were desperate to join our clan. And there were those who merely wanted to destroy us.

As our order swelled in numbers there were enemies who set out to sabotage us. One day a naughty boy called Andrew Manning discovered the true meaning of the initials RC and the whole network came crashing down as he revealed it to the entire school playground. We were distraught.

As classification protocol has been lifted I can divulge the name now – RUBIC CUBE. This post will self-destruct in 10, 9 , 8 …

To this day we don’t know if the secret was leaked or he had stolen/found/sneaked a peak at our highly cryptic paperwork. But after an emergency after-school rendezvous in Lesley’s (sorry Pastry’s) garage on a wet Thursday afternoon, we decided that RC would in future stand for…nothing. Just RC. Ingenious really. That’ll fox the external operatives we thought.

Our meetings were very in depth. We sat around and drank orange juice and ate biscuits. We made lots of folders and badges using old wallpaper and reams of sellotape. We wrote letters to Jim’ll Fix It and also formed a band and composed our own songs with very meaningful and eloquent lyrics. One was called ‘Schooool. Urghhhhhhhh’.
These we performed in public. Well in front of my sister mostly who I sense saw these as a form of torture.

So, now it’s out there I confess to my RC comrades for selling out. For spilling the beans. I will say however, I will always be proud to have been a member of the RC Club. It was the best few years of my life. No regrets. Except perhaps my 11th birthday when Pastry requested that all RC members who were invited to my house HAD to adhere to the club dress code – blouse and blue denim jeans. Unfortunately my mum didn’t get the memo and made me wear my new birthday outfit – khaki skirt and matching khaki t-shirt.

The absolute shame. I’ve never forgotten the guilt. I still carry the remorse today. My sister meanwhile has also never been able to recover from the torture of having to sit through our entire repertoire of about 15 songs that day. Twice.

For evidence purposes of that day I present exhibit A.
From left to right: Pastry, Spike, my sister (behind) and Droopy.

Wednesday 29 April 2020 – Day 46

Spain coronavirus cases: 232,128. Deaths: 23,822. Recovered 123,903

Walked into the kitchen today to find a covert game of poker going on instead of school work. Hello. My name is Karen. And my children are gambling addicts. So with that illicit gambling den broken up normal business was resumed. Nothing going on here officer.

Sanchez’s de-escalation plan was announced yesterday so a flurry of excitement mixed with a smattering of apprehension for the gradual loosening of the lock down. It’s strange how this reclusive lifestyle becomes the ‘norm’ after a while.

It’s made me re-evaluate and take stock of a few things and realise what’s important and what’s actually not. Many of us waste far too much time and money on inconsequential material things. We waste time and energy on friendships that are imbalanced. And we waste far too much time worrying about trivial aspects of life. I reckon some of us will emerge from Season 1 with a new dialogue and narrative for Season 2.

I do hope everyone sits up and reflects on how this global lock down stint has helped in some way to heal the planet. There are stories of clearer waters in Venetian canals; less air pollution recorded in India; New York’s carbon monoxide levels dropped by half their usual levels in March and China’s pollution levels were down 25 per cent during the initial lock down.

For the past few weeks we have obeyed the rules and survived within our little eco-systems bubbles at home but we need to remember that we are all part of a bigger interconnected system and we have the power to make things better on all levels. Selfishness and inconsideration should be so pre-CV19. The new era should be filled with thoughtfulness, appreciation, compassion and forgiveness.

Individual actions and behaviour can have such a collective impact.

Imagine if we reduced air and traffic pollution. Imagine if more people worked from home. Imagine if we stopped buying so much crap. Imagine if we all made an effort. I really hope this instigates changes on both personal and global environmental levels. Because if not, the point of saving millions of lives will be futile in the long run.

One lesson learnt is how half the world’s population does not have coverage for the most basic health services. When a pandemic strikes the inequality worldwide is amplified. Austerity measures which have damaged many health systems need to be reversed and health services need to be treated as a top priority.

Anyway apologies for rant. Here’s a quick round up – Sanchez’s main de-escalation points:
Decisions made every 2 weeks and each phase will last a minimum of 2 weeks with ‘normality’ resumed by end June if all goes to plan. Regionally decided but coordinated nationally:

Phase 0 – (from May 4th) Planning stage. Certain businesses can re-open with appointment system. Takeaways available from restaurants and exercise/walks with household members only from May 2nd.
Phase 1 – (aim May 11) small business can open with time slots for 65+ Bar/restaurant terraces can open with 30% capacity so social distancing rules apply. Hotel and tourist accommodations and religious sites can open 30% capacity.
Phase 2 – (aim May 25) bars/restaurants can open inside areas 30% capacity. Cinema/theatres/cultural places same. Visits to friends or family permitted from May 11.
Phase 3 – (aim June 8) Easing of movement between regions in Spain. Bars/restaurants 50% capacity. Schools will resume in September bar some special measures for vulnerable kids etc during phase 2.

Thursday 30 April 2020 – Day 47

Almost another week gone. Time flies when you are mentally unstable. Quick dash out in town this morning to get the dogs their anti-tick tablets. Yes those evil little blood suckers are out feasting already. Usual work load out the way this morning followed by packing up part of my office so I can paint over the weekend followed by an online chat with the girls.

Meanwhile on this day in history in 2001 (yes I’m reminiscing again – scroll on if you are yawning or heard this one before), I was on a coach heading back from Amsterdam to the UK after a very eventful and funny long girly weekend. It began badly.

On the first day during the group breakfast meeting about the impending ‘Cheese and Clog Factory tour’ I had my bag stolen. One minute it was by my feet. The next it was gone. And with it my passport, camera and all my spending money for the trip.


So Lynn, Val, Rose and I trundled off to the police station to fill out the report so I could get an emergency passport to get back into the UK. It didn’t actually require four of us but they were all looking for an excuse to avoid the Cheese and Clog Factory tour. A trip to a police station was more appealing.

Very long story short we found the police station, filled out the report and then somehow stumbled into a café en route back to rendezvous with the other half of the group. Not sure how time flew but we left that cafe 6 hours later and then having got on several wrong trains (no idea why) we eventually found our way back to the hotel to be greeted by tutting girls snowed under with cheese and clogs. They were a bit puzzled why it took us all day and why we were giggling so much.

Anyway you’ll be pleased to hear, after a 12 hour coach/ferry journey home they did let me back into the UK with my piece of paper. I then had to get up the following morning at 6am and dash to Peterborough Passport office (issued there and then in 3 hours in those days) armed with Val (who drove me, counter signed for me in her civil servant capacity and then took me for a tour around Peterborough Cathedral while we waited). That evening I flew to Prague for a work trip.

Bizarrely on this work trip my room key was taken out of my new bag during the exhibition (you think I’d have learnt a lesson by now. But no. Sigh). There was nothing really left to steal in my room, bar my new purse, which had nothing in it, as all my money had been stolen in Amsterdam!

So that was lucky.

Sadly I have no photographs of that time in Amsterdam. Having had my camera nicked. But I have never laughed so much before or since that trip. I do however still have the ‘I’m dog tired/hungover/wasted’ passport photo taken in a motorway service station photo booth en-route back to the UK. I love that I have my souvenir ‘Me in Amsterdam’ t-shirt on to forever remind me of this trip too.

Friday 1 May 2020 – Day 48

Long bank holiday weekend here. National today for Labour Day and local one Monday. In reality holidays don’t really have the same buzz at the moment as they did pre-CV19.
Yay! A lie in. Oh.
Yay! A day at home. Oh.

In true bank holiday style I’m decorating. Repainted my office today and will also tackle daughter’s bedroom tomorrow. Fitted in a long dog walk with son along the river and knocked up some lentil burgers and avocado salad for lunch. I’ll need to lie down later mind.

Hubby should’ve been away in the UK this weekend having some family time and enjoying a birthday bash for his sister’s impending 70th. Instead he’ll be helping me. So that’s gone down really well.

This weekend should also be the Coin Feria weekend and would usually involve the kids begging to be taken to the fair. My least favourite place. Too busy. Too noisy. Ironically I chose to live in a town which has always hosted 2 ferias a year (May and August) compared to the usual once a year feria the other towns have.
On the other hand I enjoy the feria fever. It’s such a buzz for the town. Lots going on, everyone goes out, traditional dresses are worn, horses are ridden, there’s a party on every corner and people have fun. Then we get a bank holiday to recover from the fun.

I used to love the fair as a kid. Maybe it’s just when you become an adult you begin to hate fairgrounds and can’t stomach the rides. I recall Crewe Carnival every August. They would decorate the trucks and we’d watch the parade and then end up on the George Playing Fields for the rides.

As a teen my best friend at the time, Sonia, and I would be allowed to go to the fair by ourselves! We’d ‘borrow’ her brother’s Tacchini tracksuit jackets and think we looked super cool and hang around the Waltzers trying to catch the eye of the guy spinning the cars. Never worked I might add.

Anyway here’s a photo of hubby’s family summer 2019 style. We miss you.

Saturday 2 May 2020 – Day 49

Up at 8am. For gods sake lie in woman. It’s Saturday! But no, wide awake club and I was on a quest to sort and paint daughter’s room. Mission accomplished although I am paying for it now with a headache whilst hubby’s knee keeps giving way. Cup of horlicks, a hobnob and an early night for the decrepit.

Meanwhile the new rules started today permitting adults out to exercise. We have time slots! How civilised and strange. So under 14s can only go out for an hour with adult supervision once a day between the times of 12-7pm whilst adults (14 years upwards) can enjoy some me time and exercise be it jogging or walking etc between 6am-10am and 8-11pm whilst the elderly/vulnerable have their slots from 10am-12pm and 7-8pm. Never the twain shall meet it seems.

This is the start of Spain’s first part of Phase 0 with gradual de-escalation of rules. It’s quite exciting actually. I still love the way the majority have taken this whole experience in their stride and adapted to the strict regulations. It’s made people be inventive and think outside the box. Carter said there were decorations up in the town for the non-existent feria – shawls and bunting hanging from terraces and I’ve heard that neighbours are passing beer to other each via pulley systems across their balconies! If the mountain will not come to Mohammed (or Manuel)….No cheating or disobeying rules just adaptation and ingenuity. Bravo!

Meanwhile as the kids are missing this year’s feria I’ve diversified and been resourceful and held son upside down by his feet for a few minutes and then shook and jostled him around the kitchen. He squealed and shrieked. Not sure it was enjoyment on his part. But I found it amusing. Bit like the time he was introduced to his first ever rollercoaster ride at Tivoli World a few years ago.

Sunday 3 May 2020- Day 50

50 days in captivity. A few behind Terry Waite’s 1,763. But it’s an interesting number and one worth acknowledging. It’s a half century and the age I shall be next birthday. How the hell did that happen I have no idea. I was 28 just ten minutes ago. In numerology 50 represents the sense of personal freedom. Demonstrated today by those out and about walking, cycling and jogging. Everyone who didn’t exercise pre-CV19 is suddenly an avid hiker or a runner .

I make no apologies for wearing shorts today on my hour walkabout – two metre distance means no one gets close enough to see my white hairy legs. Must do something to rectify that by the time lock down is over. Sunshine and a scythe springs to mind. Apparently as from the 11th we can have gatherings with up to 10 people. That’ll do. I don’t have that many friends. And if I wear shorts I’ll have even less.

Anyway late logging in today. Apparently it’s Spanish Mothers Day today and I’ve had a G&T to celebrate and the day has flown by. Might try that more often. Enjoyed a leisurely day eating outside. Because we can. And I’m trying desperately to do that thing called ‘relaxing’
Talking to the kids about things we did when we were young that stick in your mind because you know you were going to, or did, get in huge amounts of trouble from your parents. One of my big accident prone incidents was ‘Sofa-Gate’.

I was about 14 or 15 and my parents bought a new three piece suite. At that point we were banned from eating in the living room on our laps whilst watching TV, but were allowed to have a cup of tea and biscuit/cake watching Neighbours. During the very first week of the new sofa regulations, I managed to spill an entire mug of scalding hot tea which had been perched between my legs.

Inwardly screaming due to 70 degree burns to my inner thighs I managed to attract my sister’s attention and mouth ‘tea towel’ which I surreptitiously slipped underneath to absorb the boiling liquid a little. I reckon I sat in that wet patch for a good half hour until my sister and I managed to flip the sofa cushion over when my mum left the room. She never found out until I told her about this only recently.

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