Day 6

Social Distancing

One of the advantages of the Kerfuffle is that I do not have to give up smoking. Which is really handy as, because I am working from home, I am smoking sheds more than usual during office hours: I just do not really have the personal discipline needed to force myself up from the comfy, leather armchair in the study in the East Wing and make my way to the designated smoking area just outside the mutility room in the annex (or in the mutility room if it is raining). So I sit here with a laptop on my … lap, actually … a cigarette in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other. As I frequently say, if that diet is good enough for French women, it is good enough for me. Vaping, you say? Or electronic cigarettes, as we early-adapters still call them. Yeah I smoke them too, but, as my man Woody pointed out, even were I not a smoker, I would have taken them up anyway just to annoy people in the office. (This was in the days when they were still permitted in offices, pubs and restaurants before the Gandalf gang started using those massive, cloud-creating devices with their weird flavours: even I would agree that that sort of behaviour is better done out in the cold where all hipsters should be kept by law.)

I better talk you through the economics of this whole not-giving-up-smoking-because-of-the-corona-virus scenario. Like I said, since starting the social distancing, working from home malarkey, my tobacco consumption has increased to admirable proportions. And I can’t really afford it. But, wonder of wonder, miracle of miracles, I crunched the numbers last night and the amount of money I am saving on diesel by not driving to work five days a week is almost exactly equivalent to the cost of my weekly addiction. One of my weekly addictions, but more about that anon. So, result! No need to give up the weeds, and, as an added bonus, I reduce my carbon footprint while increasing my carbon lungprint. What’s not to like about that?

I have already made my one essentials journey to the supermarket today. Cigarettes, Private Eye (the toilet paper edition), crisps for the resident teenagers, two batons (the French bread, not the personal protection equipment) and another wireless mouse. If I buy any more wireless mice (?mouses?), the cat might decide to leave home. But with three resident teenagers (two according to English-language rules) also working from home, a part-time wife working part-time in the kitchen and me hogging the study with the laptop and the Mac, nobody could be arsed using a mouse that has to plug in somewhere, so we all need one each, hence the mouse infestation chez moi. On this point, while ‘working from home’ and ‘doing housework’ are in the same semantic region, someone needs to point out to the part-time wife that they are not exact synonyms. So, no dear, I cannot put a coloureds wash on or get those shelves put up just because I happen to be in the house. Sure I have to move this memo from one folder to another folder on Sharepoint, and then there is the update to the update to update, and after that I need to put aside a good half an hour to delete emails from my employer giving me advice about how to make the most efficient use of my time while working from home. And, after all that, I’ll have to make myself look presentable for the weekly video call on Teams. And then I still have to figure out the optimum time for incorporating a Spanish siesta in my new working routine. I’ll need a coffee break after all that, obviously. So the shelves and the dirty clothes will just have to wait. Or, here’s a thought, since the idea behind the part-time wife working part-time was that she would then have time for looking after the house and the resident teenagers while I work all the hours God gives me to keep the family in cigarettes, maybe she should put on the coloureds wash? And shelves are over-rated anyway: the floor is a much safer storage space.

One other advantage of the Kerfuffle (thank you for your patience) is, of course, this: we no longer have to visit relatives, particularly not the older ones. They were always the most tricky anyway. I am slightly concerned, however, that Boris has decreed that the five-week-old child of my nephew has to be a Pagan for the foreseeable future. I am not even sure what Pagans believe, and I wouldn’t want him getting hold of the wrong end of the stick (sticks are involved, as far as I remember) at the start of his spiritual education. You didn’t think that one through, Boris. Stick up a government website there outlining the major beliefs and practices of Paganism so that my nephew can be sure he is doing it right.

Oh, clothes: a fedora hat and a duvet. That’s it, not even any pyjamas under the duvet.


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