Social Distancing

Day 11

Monday Morning Mark II, Captain’s Starlog, 11PC. So, for the second time this month, although it is the start of the working week (more of that anon), I will not be approaching the Hill Section of the M2 with something approaching the dread of Sisyphus approaching his boulder each morning, I will not be getting snarled up in traffic on the Sandyknowles Roundabout and I will not be experiencing despair at the inability of the human race to learn the simplest of lessons from experience. These, my friends, were only a few of the delights of my daily commute to work in the PC days. An extra treat on a Monday was the absence of the part-time wife from the passenger seat: she never fully embraced the role of passenger as indicated in the name of her seat (carrying, as it does, the first syllable of ‘passive’ in it), and would constantly cross the invisible line I had clearly marked not quite down the middle of the cockpit. On my side of the line were all the controls for operating the car – steering wheel, foot pedals, fully-operational indicator lights – but also, and crucially, the controls for adjusting the atmosphere of the interior – heating, air conditioning, in-car entertainment. As balance, there was a glove compartment on her side over which I had no control at all. Despite these clearly-defined and delineated duties and responsibilities, time after time, part-time wife would reach over the line to the not-quite central control panel in an attempt to adjust the heat, or change the radio station to Radio Four or, I dunno, generally to just fuck things up. But none of that unconscionable rebellion on Monday mornings, and on one other blissful morning per week. I should add that it was the physical atmosphere of the car I was in control of. Control of the emotional atmosphere was firmly on the other side of the invisible line, and part-time wife could change a frosty morning into the brightest of new dawns merely by answering one of my questions rather than sitting in a huff in the perfectly calibrated air on her side of the car.

[Yer man, the wee query boy, has sent in another request for clarification. The rest of youse should feel free to do the same by leaving a comment in the comments section. I guarantee to read them; whether or not I respond to them is anyone’s guess, and will have more to do with whatever subject is on the top of my head queuing to get off when I start typing than the nature or urgency of the query. The reason pernickety-head’s question is being addressed today will soon become apparent, maybe.]

So, apart from closing it to traffic and turning the dreaded Hill Section into a roller-park for disaffected teenagers [redundant: akin to ‘pretentious Frenchman’, there is no other kind – ed.], way down there somewhere in a previous post I had mentioned in passing that I used to regularly regale my passenger with various ingenuous solutions to the morning rush-hour. This was in the days, dear reader, when there was a morning rush-hour. For the past eleven days, the closest thing I get to a morning rush-hour is a sprint along the balcony of the mezzanine from the master bedroom in the West Wing to the rainforest shower in the bathroom in the East Wing in an attempt to get in there before one of the resident teenagers takes up temporary residence. Why do teenagers take so long in the bathroom? Don’t answer that, I already know the answer; well one answer, for teenaged boys, anyway. I can hear one of them stirring now, and better finish this off soon or I will be turning up for work having had only the full Andytown shower.

Back to traffic and query boy’s request that I elucidate. In the days before the Kerfuffle, shed-loads of cars would attempt the pointless and pathetic attempt to deliver their occupants to various offices and shops in the city centre for exactly the same, apparently engraved-in-stone time of nine o’clock. There was never any reason for this stupidity: we did not work on production lines which entailed that each of us had to be at his post contemporaneously or else the whole system would break down. The solution to the twice-daily traffic jams then? Staggered start and finish times, by alphabetical order. Thus, if your surname begins with any of the letters A-D, on week one you start at 7.00 am, the E-Hs start at 7.30 am, the I-Ls rock up at 8.00 am … you get the picture. In week two, everyone moves up one place in the schedule and the A-Ds start at 7.30 am, their early-morning slot being taken up by the W-Zs (mostly Polish workers in that group) from the other end of the system. Going home times follow a similar pattern starting from 4.00 pm when (yes, you’ve got it, by Jove you’ve got it!) the A-Ds bomb home up a relatively free-flowing Hill Section back to their country residences. Do you like it?

I once wrote to the Irish Government suggesting they should bring in bunk beds to wards to solve waiting times in hospitals. Like CERN, they have yet to reply. But I live in hope. When I am not in despair – see shopping list above.


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