Whether you are stuck in your twenty bedroom mansion with many acres of private grounds or alone in a tiny flat, there are some advantages to being in the majority of the population not allowed to go out. Remember that feeling when your mother believed it when you said you felt ill and you didn’t have to go to school? Recreate that inner freedom of spirit for yourself every morning.
You don’t have to decide what to wear each day, even if you are still in your dressing gown when you put the bins out no one will be around to see you.
If you are a schoolchild you are taking part in the biggest social experiment ever; if your exasperated parents call you a rat they just mean it affectionately, you are a laboratory rat. Perhaps the experiment will prove that actually nobody needs to go to school. If you had no friends at school you are a winner, nobody has any friends at school now.
Parents, if you are one of those families that appeared in that documentary, Twenty Two Children and Another on the Way, you are laughing, now is your time, with a ready made school and team sports. As you could never afford to go out anyway with all those children, life goes on much the same.
Adults, you don’t have to go to work, or if you have to work from home you can do it in your pyjamas.
You don’t have to go out, you don’t have to go to that boring party, your in-laws’ wedding, that tedious conference, parents’ evening, to the cinema to see that ghastly film your partner wanted to see and you don’t have to go to the dentist.
You can watch television all day long, especially twenty four hour corona coverage.
Tired of decision making? Remember waking up to sunny Saturdays and discussing how to make the most of a nice weekend? We must go somewhere, but where, a favourite place or somewhere new? A local walk or major expedition? Take a picnic or eat out? Shall we call Barbara and John and see if they want to meet up?
Ironically you will get to know your neighbours better, even if you do have to yell from your balcony, over the fence or across the road. They are home all the time and the ones that tried to avoid you are pitifully grateful when you wave to them.
Your dog is happy, very happy, never lonely and five walks a day with each member of the family going on their allotted outing.
If you are an introvert this is your time. No one is going to tell you that getting out more would be good for you.
You will have plenty of time to catch up with all those ( my ) books you wanted to read.
What advantages have you found in your confinement to home?
Today’s tale follows on from Sunday’s short story.
Working from home was not quite how Cassie had imagined. Working on her own was fine, no interruptions, but conference calls with colleagues, from work or overseas, took much longer than expected. She had reckoned without the domestic factors.
They’re sharing a table with home schooling children, they have to be joking, haven’t they got grandparents to dump them with?
‘Sorry Cassie, isn’t it a nightmare, can’t leave them with Mum, she’s just had chemo.’
Cassie looked at the squabbling pair who kept looming into view; surely these were not the two adorable angels that they heard so much about from Gabbie in the office. At least she couldn’t get out of work now; Gabbie was usually more out of the office than in, taking time off every time one of the little darlings had a sniffle.
‘Did you email Singapore Gabbie?’
‘Singapore, oh my god, I was just about to when Felicity fell down the stairs.’
It was quite entertaining though, who would have imagined Gavin would choose such décor? What room was he actually working in, would it be rude to ask?
A huge black hairy face filled the computer screen.
‘Down Hugo. Sorry Cassie, he’s usually out with the dog walker at this time of the day, he thinks it’s Christmas. Yes I’ll take you out in a moment, Hugo that is, not you Cassie… Did Gabbie email Singapore? It’s chaos at her place.’
‘Good morning Cassie, meet Mr. Snuggles.’
A bundle of fur with an evil face sat on John’s lap.
‘If we get cut off, blame the cat.’
They got cut off.
She did not even recognise the woman on the three way conference call and what on earth was that top she was wearing or was it a …
‘Good morning, is Singapore sorted yet, did that email go, hope you don’t mind the baby… isn’t this working from home great, no pumping and expressing.’
Cassie needed a coffee, but she ought to touch base with the boss first.
‘Yes Mr. Fenton, no, I’m going to email Singapore right now, it’s not easy getting everyone into this working from home routine.’
A slender brown arm appeared at the side of her screen and placed a bone china cup and saucer on Mr. Fenton’s mahogany desk, followed by a delicate tea plate with two chocolate biscuits. Who was that woman? Unlikely to be the insipid plump wife he had brought to the Christmas dinner and dance.
The one person she had not linked up with, had any contact with, was the chap from the queue at the chemist. She had looked him up as soon as she got home; a completely different department, which was good from a professional versus socialising point of view. Would he contact her, what were the rules of dating for the over forties, not that they were dating… had he thought better of it, wrongly assuming she could be desperately seeking a responsible man to impregnate her before it was too late. This morning’s glimpses into the home life of others had confirmed she had no desire for a baby, dog, or cat… but supposing he had children of his own, they knew nothing about each other…
Her computer pinged, a new email, from him.
‘Coffee break time, do you want to Zoom or Facetime?’
Five minutes later Cassie was laughing; the blue eyes were just as penetrating on the screen with crinkle lines evidence that he laughed a lot and could make her laugh as he described his morning.
‘Mummy, Mummy, Felix has done a poo on the carpet – I didn’t know if Felix was a cat or a brat…. Oh Cassie, sorry, do you have children or pets…’
‘No way, well only a vivarium…’
Whether you are a mugger, pick pocket or burglar this current pandemic is bad news. With crowds a thing of the past the pick pocket stands no chance of earning a living, while the mugger fairs little better with the streets nearly empty. As shoppers are being requested to use their cards instead of cash, those few people out will probably not be carrying cash. But spare a thought for the burglar; everyone is confined to home, not an empty house to be found. The chancellor has offered no help at all to career criminals, who through no fault of their own find themselves without an income.
There is a ray of hope with an increase in cyber crime; you can make phone calls and send emails claiming to be from Inland Revenue or Social Security, but once you have persuaded some naïve person to part with all their personal details you need to know what to do with them. Most criminals are not clever enough to hack into their own bank accounts, let alone anyone else’s.
So for those who prefer the hands on approach here is how to keep yourself safe. Maintain a low profile, you don’t want to be arrested just for being outside before you have even had a chance to steal. If you are going to mug or pick pocket you must wear gloves and a suitable mask, your usual robber mask will not offer the correct protection. If your victim coughs move away quickly and abandon the attempt. Once you have spotted a suitable victim there is no time to waste, with everyone else keeping six feet away from each other your movements are bound to attract attention. This could be the right time to take on an apprentice, your young nimble son or daughter; if you don’t want to risk the health of you own child you could borrow the offspring of your partner or neighbour. With schools closed, anybody would be glad for someone to take their child out for the permitted exercise period.
If your modus operandi is armed hold ups, observe the professional code and do not cough or spit at your target; you must adhere to the new social rules and not risk the health of an honest shopkeeper, stick to using your gun or knife. Patience will also be required. Most shops now expect shoppers to queue up outside, six feet apart from each other; to push in will draw attention to yourself and it need hardly be emphasised that you should keep your weapon hidden while you are in the queue. However, looking on the bright side, your getaway will be easy. No one is going to come within two yards of you, let alone try to be a hero and tackle you.
Burglars should take with them cleansing sprays and gloves. If you manage to sneak in an unlocked door or open window, while householders are absorbed watching television or on the internet, well done. Once inside, avoid touching any surfaces; if you can’t find money and valuables easily do not reveal your presence to the residents; it will be hard to keep a safe distance while demanding overenthusiastically where they keep their jewellery.
Good luck everybody, we do not know how long this is going to last, but the golden rule is the same as ever; avoid getting caught, you will not be safe from the coronavirus in gaol.