Do I sneeze into my armpit?

Being peri-menopausal means that I've forgotten whether to sneeze into my armpit or cough into my groin. These are important matters in the times we live in right now. But it’s ok because Ever Patient Husband has been ‘providing’ for the family by visiting Costco and purchasing unnecessary amounts of small plum tomatoes, enough potatoes to run a Potcheen factory that supplies the entire population of Ireland and for some inexplicable reason, tiny cucumbers. When the Zombie Apocalypse does come, ours will be the only household with homemade gherkins.

The inexplicably tiny cucumbers, purchased in bulk. Note: the pencil is for comparison purposes only.

I’m also having problems working out whether I’m having a hot flush or whether I’ve got the virus. At 4am I wake up sweating, check for a new consistent dry cough, worry about who I’ve infected and then go back to sleep realising it’s just my body reminding me that my days of smooth skin, collagen filled cheeks and strong pelvic floor are long gone.

Pip and I have decided to write at will. We are abandoning the constraints of a weekly blog, centred around our attempt to get fit prior to the trek to Nepal (will Nepal still be there in November - who knows?) and instead subjecting our hardcore fans to the drivel that makes up our day to day existence.

Wherever you are in the world right now, you’re more than likely to be confined to your home, a prospect that may have been appealing initially, despite the lack of money coming into the household (I am self employed and so I’m preparing my begging letters to Bill Gates even as a type), but now seems to be the worst idea anyone in the history of ideas could have come up with for harmonious living with your family.

Ever Patient Husband tells me that he’s quite enjoying spending time with his family. It’s been four days. I give it another two days before he realises that all that time spent fishing, golfing and shooting (it’s ok, we eat what he shoots, our freezer is full of pheasants) was time jolly well spent because it meant we stayed married. The endless round of memes with happy men dancing around their living rooms whilst they have their wives in isolation or tied up in a cupboard should actually be the other way round, it’s just us women cannot be arsed spending hours making such inane things and have better things to do with our time, like avoid our husbands and read Jane Austen.

So, he’s at home, not working and I am at home and still working. I work from home and see my clients at their place of work. This does several things for me. One; I get to nose around other people’s offices and Two; I like working with clients that require me to stay overnight somewhere. This gives me a well earned break from the domestic dullness that makes up most women’s lives and allows me to have breakfast alone, get ready for work, alone and generally not speak to anyone for an entire evening and morning. It is bliss. My tiny window for remaining sane has been closed for the time being. Rest assured though readers, I shall be working with clients very far away when life returns to some kind of normal.

This may sound as though I don’t love or care for my husband and beautiful children. I love them dearly and would die for them, however, being in such close proximity to them for extended periods of time gives me a nervous tick.

We did manage to squeeze in one last walk before Boris stopped us all from going anywhere by playing upon our sense of guilt and fear. Not fear of an unquantifiable virus, but in true British style - fear of what other people might think. Going out for one bit of exercise per day is now the Eleventh Commandment and anyone who does not adhere to this rule will be turned to dust by the loud tutting and sighing that goes on when British people disapprove of something. Keeping two metres apart is interesting in our culture too. Being overly polite, we’re a bit unsure about the crucial part of the Eleventh Commandment. On the one hand it seems a bit rude to be distancing ourselves socially from other people and on the other our intense desire to do the right thing means we have to put etiquette aside and appear stand offish.

I for one, apologetically acknowledge fellow dog walkers with a ‘good morning’ and a nod. I find myself wanting to explain that under normal circumstances I’d be really happy to be a bit closer, but this virus thing prevents me. They give me knowing looks and we appear to understand each other’s social predicament.

The thing about my work is that EPH doesn’t think it’s real work. For one, I’m a girl and for two, it doesn’t involve making anything. He runs a workshop full of men who make things that are extremely useful. I talk for a living, which in his world doesn’t count as work. I used to train people in NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) and for many years he reckoned I hypnotised people to cluck like chickens. So, when I was on Zoom call after Zoom call this week, EPH thought I was just chatting to my mates. His nose was a little out of joint when he suggested I help in the garden and I explained as patiently as I could that I had got four calls scheduled that day (including one to New York, which was all very exciting) and there would be no time for gardening. He sulked. I ignored his sulking and stayed in my office for as long as possible, which included hosting a ‘hangout’ party for my mates for an hour to cheer them up.

So, myself, EPH and Youngest Daughter and Eddie piled into the car and drove to Loch Tay on the last Sunday of freedom. We reckoned there would be nobody up on Ben Lawers and we were right. It was still covered in patches of snow and was quite breathtaking. The clear blue skies and the even clearer air really did restore our spirits after a turbulent week of uncertainty. Loch Tay is the place I go to when life gets too much.

The last time I ran away to there was during the G8 Summit when it was being held at Gleneagles. The full scale riot with horse mounted police in terror-inducing riot gear that was playing out on Princes St whilst I was trying to get home and a constant buzz of helicopters overhead had been the final straw. I had jumped into my car and driven the two hours to the edge of Loch Tay where I sat for a further two hours until I felt ready to go home.

Ever Patient Husband had insisted we visit the garden centre before we headed up to the Loch as he suspected it would be the last time he’d be able to buy useful seeds to plant. Seeds were purchased along with hand cream and soap which was on special offer and we drove north. We found the path up the side of the mountain and watched as a handful of people wearing proper mountain gear wandered back down from the mountain, looking at us as though we were mad. I checked my phone to see what time it was. It was 3pm and we’d fannied around so much that there was no way we’d reach the top. We opted for the short walk and made it about a third of the way to the top before scrambling back down happy, rosy cheeked and ready for some fish and chips.

Ever Patient Husband was the sole customer (no pun intended) in the chippy and we ate in a lay-by at the side of the road, making sure we were properly socially distanced from all concerned.

STOP PRESS: Yoga via video link takes and interesting turn and Ever Patient Husband decides after twelve years together he‘d quite like to learn to cook. There isn’t enough gin to cover this development......

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