Two women, one young, one older, were gazing longingly in at the display in the charity shop window. The object of their desire - a second hand vacuum cleaner (“complete with attachments” a small white card
attached to the handle advised) for the princely sum of a tenner. Unfortunately, in common with every other charity shop just at the moment, this establishment was closed to customers, locked and barred, with a metal shutter over the entrance to deter people
from leaving well-meant but, for the time being, unwanted donations outside.
“Hopefully soon!” the older woman comforted her younger companion,
as they dragged their eyes from the bounty in the shop window and proceeded along the street in search (presumably) of stores open to customers.
It struck me that
this is the new mantra for today. Back in the early days of the first Lockdown we were all quick to sign off our conversations, on the phone or on-line, with a solicitous “Stay Safe” or “Take care.” These days - whether discussing the
opening of hair salons or the reintroduction of live theatre - we are at one in saying: “Hopefully soon!” At the end of our weekly choir Zoom session yesterday, after murdering several songs from the musical Oklahoma (I’m sure that individually
we were extremely tuneful but differing broadband speeds meant that collectively we were, well, rather less so) we chatted briefly about whether we would ever get back to singing together again. “Hopefully soon!” everybody said.
I am contemplating suggesting to Boris that he replace the old “Stay Home. Protect the NHS. Save Lives” messages written large on the lecterns he and the experts lean
on at every Downing Street briefing with “Hopefully Soon!” I feel it strikes exactly the right note - the use of the word soon indicates a warning “but not yet” while the word hopefully would give us all, well, hope which some are finding
in short supply. Besides, my market research (based on eavesdropping on the couple outside the charity shop among others) tells me that it is what absolutely everyone is saying. I’m not holding my breath that anyone in authority will actually listen
to me but you know it makes sense...
Hope is springing among my immediate family as the offer of vaccination is extended to the over- fifties. All three of the
Darling Daughters will have received their first jab by Monday. Inevitably there was some discussion on today’s Family Zoom about sore arms, chills, headaches and the like. Mr B proudly asserted that he hadn’t felt a thing and hadn’t suffered
even the mildest of side effects. I remember my dear mum, when I was a littl’un, declaring at the end of any particular household task: “That’s that job jobbed!” Nowadays we exult - and congratulate each other - at the news that “That’s
that jab jabbed!” I’m sure my mum would approve of us paraphrasing her wise words...
All but one of the Foursome. My Boy can only watch and wait, being
the only one who has not reached his half-century. It’s the first time he hasn’t been able to claim his comparative youth as an advantage over his sisters. His lonely position isn’t helped by the fact that his wife, the Darling Daughter-in-law,
has received both her first and second jabs on account of being in a high risk job as a dentist.
When, My Boy can only ask, will it be his turn to be jabbed? There’s really only one thing I can say,