Lockdown Week 13 – June 15th to 21st 2020 inclusive

Monday, June 15th

Non-essential shops can reopen from today.  People queued for an hour outside Primark, TK Maxx and Foot Locker in town.  All right for those who’ve been furloughed, eh?!  I don’t really want to go shopping.  I’d just like to walk round town, be able to go into my favourite cafe for a drink, and not have to worry about where I’m going to find a toilet that’s open!

There’s been some discussion on Facebook today about how everyone is getting ratty.  12 weeks of lockdown, holidays being cancelled, and no sign of things getting back to normal for months to come, plus having your head bitten off for making perfectly polite and reasonable comments about “culture wars”, and tempers are fraying.  Also, it’s very humid today.  We had a storm earlier – luckily, having seen the weather forecast, I’d gone to the park early, so wasn’t out in it – but that hasn’t cleared it.  And my hair is really bothering me in the humid weather.

I went to the office this morning.  Two colleagues also called in whilst I was there.  It was nice to see them.  I am so, so pissed off with the way the bosses are treating us, but it’s nice to catch up with colleagues and see that they’re OK.  Apart from needing haircuts!

 

Tuesday, June 16th

It’s now only 18 days until July 4th.  So are hairdressing salons and hotels reopening then or not?  People need notice.  This really is a shambles.   On a happier note, the free school meals voucher scheme’s to be continued during the summer holidays, following a campaign by Marcus Rashford.  I am so, so proud of him.  No political points-scoring, no name-calling, no insults – just making his point, making it well, and rallying public opinion behind him.  But it doesn’t say much for the Government that a 22-year-old footballer’s got more idea of what needs doing than they have!

It sounds as if an existing drug can help to treat seriously-ill Covid 19 patients, which is good news.  And cinemas could be reopening in mid-July.  But another 233 deaths were reported today.  OK, it’s always bad on a Tuesday, but it shouldn’t still be that bad.

Went to Tesco and M&S this morning, then into the precinct because you can’t get Slimming World chips from anywhere but Iceland!   It was noticeable that the independent cafes were open for takeaways, really trying, whilst the chains were shut.

And the US Open’s going ahead.  Without fans.  So what will Rafa and Nole do?  I desperately want to see some tennis.  I particularly desperately want to see some tennis involving Rafa.  But I do understand the players’ concerns.  No-one’ll be in shape, and they won’t be match-fit even if they’ve been training hard, but we’ve got to start somewhere … but is now the time?

 

Wednesday, June 17th

Oh no.  Everything has gone wrong.  Well, football’s back, tennis is coming back, and I has tea at Mum and Dad’s, so it should have been a wonderful day.  We all sat down for tea together, and watched the football – Villa v Sheff Utd first, then City v Arsenal, with sound effects which were great.  And I had a walk in the park earlier.

BUT – we had the most horrendous storm last night.  I think it was the worst storm I can ever remember.  And the internet went down.  And the phone went fuzzy.  I assumed it was interference, but it didn’t come back on.  I got completely hysterical, and hardly slept all night.  I managed to get through to BT this morning, and they are sending an engineer, but I’m pretty stressed.

I rang work to explain that I wasn’t able to use the remote connection, and said that I’d see what I could do without it: I’ve got some files at home.  The next thing I knew, the boss had rung to try to hassle me into going to sit in the office building, which shouldn’t even be open.  I was really upset.

 

Thursday, June 18th

Oh no.  I do not believe that this is happening.  The engineer came, spent 2 hours messing about, and then said that:

  1.  The hub had been damaged by lightning.  They would send a new hub by post, but, “due to coronavirus”, would not let me book an engineer to set it up and reconnect all my devices.
  2. He had had to rewire the phone.  The phone in the study works – although it’s still fuzzy, but the fuzziness goes off when the hub’s disconnected, and he claimed that it’ll work OK when the new hub’s in – but the phones in the front room and the bedroom are now dead, and I’ve got no answering machine.  He refused to rewire the other phones “because of coronavirus” and said that I would have to order wireless phones and set them up myself.  Amazon Prime are bringing them tomorrow, which is OK, but I am useless with IT.
  3. He would order a new hub, which would be delivered tomorrow.

Later, I got an e-mail to say that the hub would not be coming until Monday.  MONDAY.  And I now don’t know what to believe.  Are they saying Monday to cover themselves?  Am I supposed to wait in for 3 days?  I’ve got a Royal Mail tracking number, but it just says “no information yet”.

I got so upset that Mum and Dad came down to look after me.

My cousin rang, and helped me to set up a mobile hotspot link to my laptop, so that’s something.  Bless her!  However, I doubt it’s strong enough to work on the remote connection to work, plus I assume that will eat all my data.  I told work I had had an anxiety attack (which was sort of true) and would need tomorrow off ill – I felt bad for lying, but I suspect they would have made me take a day’s leave otherwise, and we only get the legal minimum and I urgently need the days for a break later in the year.  But, at that point, I thought the hub was coming tomorrow and I’d be back up and running by Monday.  A lot of friends have said that their bosses would understand that they were hardly to blame for a lightning strike.  Oh, to be so lucky!

I have coped OK until now, but I am really struggling with this.  It’s … well, it is to do with lockdown, because the guy would at least have reconnected the other phones otherwise, and they might have moved themselves to post the hub sooner.

I do not believe that this is happening.  It is a nightmare.  And I should be so happy, because United are playing tomorrow.

And Dame Vera Lynn’s died.  I know she was 103, but she was so important to the country … and she won’t even get a proper funeral, as things are.  RIP a very great lady.

 

Friday, June 19th

The hub is coming tomorrow.  But I have booked a ticket for Brodsworth Hall for tomorrow morning.  Mum and Dad have kindly offered to housesit until I get back.  I’ll have to try not to think about it all until I get back – I’ve really been looking forward to going, and want to be able to enjoy it.

The new phones came.  However, you have to charge them for at least 16 hours before plugging them into the phone socket!  So I have no idea whether or not they work.  And I’m not starting trying in the morning, because I need to leave early to make my timeslot for Brodsworth.  So then I’ll be faced with everything at once.  And I’m catastrophising like mad.

The only good thing about this is that it’s meant I’ve had a break from being chained to the office computers – and I didn’t half need that.  I really, really did need it.

It’s rained nearly all day, again.  I made it to the post office and back, to post a friend’s birthday present, without getting too wet, but had to change my shoes and socks after it poured down during my walk in the park!

And it’s United v Spurs, at Spurs, tonight!!   Our last match was the derby.  78,000 people there.  We beat City.  It was amazing.  And look what’s happened since.  But we’re back!

Saturday, June 20th

Will this nightmare never end?  The new phones do not work.  Well, they light up, and you can ring in and out, but the line’s so fuzzy that you can’t hear much, and the person you’re speaking to can’t hear you.  So is there still a problem with the line, or are the phones – which were brand new, and not cheap – faulty?  Short of asking someone if they’d mind disconnecting their phone so that I can plug these into their socket, or spending yet more money on another lot, I don’t know how to find out.  There’s a “help”line, but it’s not open till Monday, and I’d have to disconnect the phones to ring it because I can’t get to speak to anyone on my mobile, as it’s a “press button 1, press button” thing and doesn’t recognise it from mobiles.  The old phone does work in the socket, which suggests that the line is clear and the phones are faulty, but it seems odd that new phones – and they’re BT’s own make, so they should be decent – don’t work.

On the positive side:

1.  The new hub came.  I managed to connect it, get it going, and get all my devices connected to it.  Phew.  And touch wood!  It is a nightmare having no broadband, especially at the moment when you’ve got to pre-book everything.

2.  United drew 1-1 at Spurs … I’d obviously have preferred a win, but it’s so good to be back!

3. My hairdresser messaged me, to say that, assuming the July 4th reopening date isn’t put back, she’s reopening the salon then.  I’ve got an appointment in July 5th at 8am!  They don’t usually open on Sundays, and they don’t usually open at 8am any day, but everyone wants their hair done!

4.  I had a lovely morning at Brodsworth Hall, and went to the park later.

Brodsworth Hall:

 

Sunday, June 21st

OK, this is weird.  I tried the new phones at several different times yesterday.  They were fuzzy every time.  I tried them again this afternoon and, touch wood, they were OK.  So it’s not that the equipment’s faulty … which could have been solved by getting replacements.  But what on earth is it?  The BT “help” (hah!) pages go on about them using wireless frequencies and something causing interference.  But what?  It said it could be something in a neighbour’s house … like what?  And what do I do if it keeps happening?

Hmm.

Went to Hollingworth Lake this morning.  I walked round once, then Mum and Dad arrived and I walked round again, with them, which was lovely, especially with it being Father’s Day (which ought to be spelt “Fathers’ Day”!).  All the cafes there are open now, although I’m sticking with The Olive and Pickle which I’ve been going to ever since it opened.  The lakeside café in Heaton Park, where I went later, has also reopened.  This is just for takeaways, but it’s something.  A local Italian restaurant’s turned part of the seating space into a deli shop: they obviously don’t expect sit-down service to be resuming any time soon 😦 .   But the papers are all saying that hairdressers will be given the go-ahead for July 4th.  Hooray!!

And so ends Week 13.

 

 

 

Of football, hairdressers, techno-trauma, anxiety and Blytonesque picnics

  Now life will return in this electric storm … .  Well, this has been quite a week.

On the plus side, the Premier League and the Championship are back.  Hooray!!  And the US Open is going ahead, although I’ve got mixed feelings about that because I know that a lot of players don’t want to travel at the moment.  And, hooray, assuming that hairdressing salons do, as expected, get the go-ahead to reopen on July 4th, I’ve got an appointment at 8am on July 5th.  Yes, 8am, on a Sunday, and no, the salon does not normally open then, but people are frantic for haircuts!   Also, non-essential shops have reopened, which will hopefully give the economy an urgently-needed boost – I’ve already sadly heard that a number of people I know have been made redundant – and save a lot of jobs.

Oh, how wonderful is to have football back?  I have missed it *so* much.  Having no live sport for over two months was very weird indeed, and it was getting on for three months when Villa and Sheffield United finally took the field on Wednesday night, followed by City and Arsenal.  And, on Friday night, it was us!   United v Spurs.  Well, Spurs v United.  It’d been a very long wait.  Normally I’d say that a draw at Spurs was a good result, but we should never have conceded that goal.  What were De Gea and Maguire doing?   But we’re talking about defensive errors.  We’re talking about the blooper that Hawk-Eye made by disallowing Sheffield United’s goal.  This is sort of normality.  OK, it’s not normal when the stadia are empty, but it’s a big step forward.

I love the piped noise!  I thought it might sound awful, like canned laughter on sitcoms.  But it was great. Watching the first Bundesliga matches after the restart was very, very odd, with that deathly silence.  Even watching United v LASK Linz, behind closed doors in March, my own team winning a resounding victory, was very odd with no noise.  But the piped noise really is great.  As long as no-one presses the wrong button, like the unfortunate moment when the Juventus piped noise cheered rather than groaned when Ronaldo missed a penalty!

None of the matches so far have been that great.  That’s inevitable.  The players aren’t match fit, and, like the rest of us, they’re no doubt a bit dazed with how their world’s been turned upside down in the last three months.  But it’s back.  We can get back to stressing about whether our teams are going to clinch a Champions League or Europa League place, or stay safe from relegation, or, if you’re a Liverpool fan, when the title will be won.  We can get back to moaning about and criticising 😉 the players, the managers, the officials and the technology – first match back and goal line technology got it wrong!  We can drool over the good stuff – and there was some good stuff.  And we can get back to discussing it all with our families and friends.

And the bad stuff.  On Tuesday night, we had the worst storm we’ve had in decades.  It was just horrendous.  And my broadband went off.  I assumed that the water’d upset a connection somewhere.  I managed to get through to BT on Wednesday morning, and they sent an engineer on Thursday.  I thought it’d be sorted within an hour or so.  Instead, he said that:

  1.  The hub had been damaged by lightning.  They would send a new hub by post, but, “due to coronavirus”, would not let me book an engineer to set it up and reconnect all my devices.
  2. He had had to rewire the phone.  The phone in the study works – although it’s still fuzzy, but the fuzziness goes off when the hub’s disconnected, and he claimed that it’d work OK when the new hub was in – but the phones in the front room and the bedroom are now dead, and I’ve got no answering machine.  He refused to rewire the other phones “because of coronavirus” and said that I would have to order wireless phones and set them up myself.

At this point, I lost it.  I suffer badly from anxiety, and I can’t take medication for it because of the side-effects.  I had quite a bad breakdown in 2013.  I was so upset that my mum and dad had to come round – OK due to the “support bubble”.   It then got worse when the wireless phones came but didn’t work properly – the line’s so fuzzy that I can barely hear what the other person’s saying, and they can’t hear what I’m saying.  I don’t know whether the handsets or base are faulty, or whether the engineer messed something up.  The line is now clear on the old phone, but, as I said, the phones in the front room and the bedroom are now dead, and I’ve got no answering machine

Better news is that, touch wood, I managed to get the new hub working.  And I’m eternally grateful to my mum and dad, to my cousin who helped me “tether” my laptop to my mobile phone whilst I was waiting for the new hub, and to my lovely supportive Whatsapp groups – a family group and a friends group.  Work, on the other hand, tried to hassle me into going into the office to work there, and I ended up getting so upset and stressed that I said I was having two days off ill with anxiety.

I wish I could get this phone situation resolved.  Meanwhile, this whole nightmare really brought it home to me how dependent we are on technology.  We could not have “done” lockdown 25 years ago.  A lot of people are doing grocery shopping online.  I’m not, but I’m ordering a lot of stuff from Amazon.  I need the internet to prebook visits to National Trust and English Heritage sites.  And where I’d be without Facebook and Whatsapp, I just do not know.

It’s also really brought it home to me that we’re going to be hearing “becauseofcoronavirus” as an excuse for crap service for months to come.  I pay BT good money for their service.  They should not have disconnected my sockets and refused to reconnect them.

 

On a different and more cheerful note, I went to Brodsworth Hall on Saturday.  They did have a small mobile catering outlet open, but a lot of people had brought picnics.   It was the same at Tatton Park.  And, at our own Heaton Park, I’m seeing loads of people bringing tables, chairs, and enormous picnics.  I’m not just talking about a few sandwiches and packets of crisps: I’m talking about huge spreads, like people have in Enid Blyton books.  In fact, it goes back way before then.  The whole gang go for a big picnic in Jane Austen’s Emma!  In children’s books set in the inter-war years and (forget a little thing called rationing) the immediate post-war years, everyone’s always going out for picnics.  The Chalet School girls lug all sorts of food up mountains with them … usually managing to forget the lemonade.  And Toad, Mole, Badger and Ratty eat even more than the Famous Five et al do.

I think picnics used to be a lot more common.  Think of the days of big Sunday School picnics.  Even when I was a kid, in the early ’80s, we had a big picnic basket, and we’d go out for picnics with the extended family.  But they seemed to be dying out, as it got so much easier to buy food on the go.  Why lug your own stuff when you could grab sandwiches and crisps wherever you were?  But now, with a lot of cafes sadly closed, although many are doing a brilliant job with their takeaway services, and people meeting up in the park because you aren’t supposed to meet up indoors unless you’re in a support bubble, it feels as if picnics are making a big comeback.

I am not having Blytonesque picnics, I hasten to add!  I am far too lazy to make all that stuff, and, as I’m on a permanent diet, I’d be far too stressed about the calories anyway.  But still.

And, finally, I was sad to hear of the death of Dame Vera Lynn.  I know she was 103 and no-one lives for ever, but she was such a respected and iconic figure, and it’s very poignant that she should have gone just when “We’ll Meet Again” was inspiring the country over 75 years after it did the first time round.

Well, this has certainly been an eventful week.  Please, please let the phone saga get sorted soon.  Meanwhile, if anyone’s read all that, thank you, and I hope you’re enjoying the football, enjoying your picnic, and have got yourself booked in for a haircut!