I’ve never been good at keeping a diary. I have tried many times, but I have never really consistently found the time. My routine existence – although one that normally drags along at the bottom of a featureless rut – still manages to find a route that is determinedly eccentric, somehow swallowing all my time. Sporadic is, I think, the best I can claim for my attention span, and that’s not generally considered consistent with diary writing is it? It’s ironic (Yes it is, Alanis) that now I have the time to be a regular diarist, I find that I have nothing to say. Diaries are, for the most part, humdrum: they rely for colour on the little islands of interest that nestle in the sea of mundanity. I have a Pacific Ocean of the mundane: such interest as I can accrue is a coral atoll, sinking slowly below the waves whilst the sunbeds are folded and the coconut salesman packs away his stock. Is ‘ditto’ really a valid diary entry and, if it is, then ‘valid’ for whom? Who do I think will ever read my diary? The whole purpose of a diary is to write for yourself isn’t it – think of the teenage journal, locked and hidden away, for your eyes only – what does it matter what you write? Nobody else is ever going to read it, right? Well, that is clearly not true. Everybody that has ever written a diary has actually done so with a view to altering the world’s perception of them. A statement of, ‘Despite what you might have thought of me at the time, this is what I am really like.’ Well, sadly, this is what I am really like, and you’re very welcome to it…
…Awoke this morning – always a cause for celebration – and contemplated the day ahead, anticipating that it would be the same as yesterday and the same as tomorrow. It was. As every day in Lockdown. In many ways the world seems to have stopped turning. We are all living a lonely, socially-distanced Groundhog Day.
I think I may have a spot coming on my lip.
Having woken, I got out of bed. Lingering is no longer an option. Men of my age do not linger in bed in the morning. The discomfort associated with it far outweighs the lure of doing so. Nothing impinges on the joy of a morning lie-in quite like a geriatric bladder protesting loudly because it is full of God-knows-what. I am never quite sure what gets in there overnight, but whatever it is and wherever it comes from, I know where it collects – and that appears to be closer to the point of exit with every passing day. Shuffle to the loo. Can’t go. Shuffle back to bed and immediately shuffle back to the loo. Go. Decide that getting back into bed is no longer a viable option. Unsuccessfully attempt to squeeze new spot. Bottom lip now resembles a ripe aubergine augmented with a pig’s nipple.
Showered and dressed because I am deeply boring and far too old to spend a day in PJ’s. That is a job for the young – and people with PJ’s that are fit to be seen during daylight hours: with elastic that functions as intended, a sewn-up fly and a crotch that does not carry faint hints of an entire week’s spilled suppers. Pyjamas, it seems to me, are marketed by over productive manufacturers of tourniquets, who can find nothing else to do with the surplus*. They should be worn only when entirely necessary and then with extreme caution. I cannot bring myself to wear them through the day, even in these times of solitude. We have mirrors, and my constitution is not what it was.
Scrambled eggs for breakfast, because we double-ordered on the click & collect (will also be eating celery daily until well into the summer). Drank the kind of coffee with which they used to tar ships and, thus fortified, contemplated the day ahead, immediately regretted it, and made another cup of tar-like coffee. I prefer my coffee with a percentage of caffeine that would probably justify a skull and crossbones on the packaging. I have some concerns that I would never wake if I stopped drinking it. I drink it black and without sugar. I am not certain that I would notice if I was slipped creosote in the morning.
The day stretched out before me – and stretched and stretched. So much time, so little to do.
My to-do list for the day ran as follows:
- Mend leaking toilet downpipe
- Er, well, I’m sure I’ll think of something…
So, exercise was straightforward enough. I went for my usual run, which takes one hour and forty minutes in total: thirty minutes to get ready – shoring up knees and donning several layers of totally inappropriate-for-the-weather clothing; forty minutes running a distance that, in my thirties, I would have walked in twenty and finally thirty minutes peeling myself out of inappropriate clothing (which is often more of a work-out than the running) and shower. I steadfastly refuse to buy any new running gear as I still worry that I might stop it all any day soon, so I continue to run in an accumulation of old beachwear, jogging pants that have long-since been pushed into the ‘painting’ drawer with several holey sweaters and withered T-shirts, and donated trainers. They are inappropriate for the weather, whatever the weather, and by the time of my return, stuck to me like glue. My wife will not have them in the washing machine.
Then, pausing only to give my wife the very stern warning that the upstairs loo must not be used whilst I worked on the pipe, up the ladder and to work. Disassembly was straightforward, if unpleasant and the problem looked like one that was to be easily solved – at which point my wife flushed the upstairs loo. I am sure that we will be speaking again before the century’s end.
Unable to have a shower until I finished mending the pipe, I spent the next half hour attracting flies and trying very hard to remember not to lick my lips. Having finished, I peeled my clothes off as quickly as I was able, as they had started to set. Once again my wife would not have them in the washing machine. Tried to put them in the garden incinerator, but the bottom fell out and the little chimney lurched to an angle of forty-five degrees. I may have to bury them in the field behind us. Do Ebay sell HazMat tape?
After another shower I decided that, to fill my time more productively, I really ought to think about getting myself a hobby. I thought about painting, then I thought about fishing and finally I thought about gardening. Thinking is a fine hobby. I think I will pursue it further.
And so, Dear Diary, the night is now drawing in and I sit here contemplating the warm fulfilment of a day well spent – whisky does that to me. Tomorrow, as my grandma always said, is another day – although I wouldn’t bank on it being terribly different.
*Should you wish for more detail on my uneasy relationship with pyjamas, you will find it in ‘The World of Pyjama Ownership’ from this time last year.