I like, if at all possible, to keep Mr B in touch with real life. As in, real life beyond the four walls of our house in which he is largely confined, apart from the weekly trip out to his beloved Sporting Memories, with
the invaluable assistance of the wheelchair-accessible Dial-a-Ride service. The trouble these days is that real life has become so very, well, surreal…
B watches TV avidly, paying great attention to the news. For my part, I endeavour to explain how our daily life is being impacted by what he is seeing played out on the screen. Most of the time I fear that he thinks I am making it up.
Take the fuel crisis hitting our local garages. I describe to him how the local Pulse bus was forced to take an alternative route the other day to avoid horrendous queues blocking the route to the
Co-op garage which had just had a visitation from a fuel tanker. I knew about the bus because for several hours it was being driven past our house and I knew about the tanker because I happened to be passing the garage (on foot) on my way to the shops when
it arrived. Mr B says he doesn’t understand what I am twittering on about.
Doesn’t he remember, I ask, me telling him how I was caught in a massive
traffic jam on my way home from choir last week and thought there had been a nasty accident until I realised the cause of the problem? And how I had to leave early for my lunch date with my friend Avril on Wednesday because Lovely Kay, who was going to keep
him company while I was out, had arrived with a warning about the difficulties I might face on the road leading to the North Star? I shouldn’t have mentioned the North Star - it was bound to confuse, introducing inter-galactic travel into the discussion.
Then there is the issue of empty shelves in the shops, another topic which has been explored extensively by newsreaders over recent weeks. It is my custom and practice, when
heading out to the local shops, to enquire of Mr B whether there is anything he would like me to buy for him. It seems only fair, given that it is some years since he last went shopping for himself. When I make the enquiry, I am thinking of something fairly
easy to pick up - a bar of chocolate, maybe, or a packet of biscuits. Mr B likes to set me more of a challenge, I never know what his next request will be but it will almost certainly be something I cannot guarantee to find on the increasingly empty shelves.
One day he will request rhubarb, another it will be beetroot. When I say I will do my best, he looks at me with disbelieving eyes, silently accusing me of not trying hard enough. This is hardly fair, bearing in mind that I am, as we often agree, extremely
I explain, once more for good measure, about the fuel crisis, the lack of HGV drivers, the threat to Christmas. The government, I tell him, is even looking
to employ more drivers in the poultry business so that Christmas isn’t spoiled through a Turkey Shortage. Mr B reminds me that he hates turkey and won’t have it for our Christmas dinner so that is one thing I don’t have to worry about. He
doesn’t exactly say: “We’re Alright Jack,” but it’s a near thing…
When my search for Mr B’s latest request ends in failure,
I try to source an appropriate substitution. Well, it works for on-line supermarket deliveries, doesn’t it? Except that my carefully considered substitutions generally disappoint. I can’t blame him - I still remember how let down I felt when Mr
Ocado Man substituted Duck a l’Orange for the braised lamb shanks I was looking forward to.
This is reality, I keep telling him. It’s not only happening
on the TV screen, it’s happening in real life, in a garage or a supermarket near us.
We had our weekly get-together via Family Zoom on Saturday where we
were joined by - wait for it - a puffin. Named Penny. She is one of the two class mascots of Puffin Class at Hook Infants School and has been entrusted to the tender, loving care of Tala (Eldest of the Twins by one important minute) as a reward for her good
work. That is, Tala’s good work, not Penny’s - I have no idea how good a student Penny is but being a puffin must present considerable challenges where reading, writing and arithmetic are concerned. I had suggested that Penny should join
us, given that the teacher of Puffin Class will be expecting a detailed diary, with photographs, of the various activities partaken by Penny over the course of the weekend.
“What’s that?” Mr B whispered, asTala, encouraged by her mamma, the Middle of the Darling Daughters, proudly displayed the treasured mascot to the rest of we Family Zoomers.
“It’s a puffin,” I told him. “Called Penny” (just in case she needed further introduction.) “She’s joining us for Family Zoom….”
Now who’s losing her grip on reality?