Blowing Out The Birthday Blues For The Second Consecutive Year

James Proclaims (4)

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Though I wrote very little on my blog in 2019, I did manage a post on my birthday.

It was a post lamenting a fairly rubbish birthday.

So, I had moderately high hopes that this year things would be marginally better. After all, this year my birthday fell on a Saturday and not just any Saturday, but the beginning of the Easter holidays.

So there was a reasonable chance I’d be able to mark the occasion, even if only in the most modest of ways.

I did not expect the festivities to be quite as modest as they ended up being though.

For reasons that are no doubt abundantly clear to anyone who has even the vaguest grasp of current affairs, I chose to spend my birthday mostly by staying in my house. And in the evening my family and I really pushed the boat out by not going out.

I shouldn’t complain. Not being able to celebrate one’s birthday is hardly the greatest of hardships given the state of the world. Many people have it worse than me.

And actually, my family made a real effort to make my birthday as special as it could be under the circumstances. I received no shortage of birthday wishes via social media and in the form of actual cards that people had posted early enough that they would get to me by yesterday.

Also I had presents.

Not one of those presents was toilet paper though, and really that does seem an oversight on the part of the gift-givers.

In all honesty, I was never going to do anything extravagant for my birthday and I’m grateful that I was able to spend it with my wonderful wife and daughter.

I’m also lucky to have such a lovely extended family, and while it’s hard that I can’t see them at the moment, the regular messages, photos and video we’re sharing with each other are some consolation.

We’re all a bit sadder today, because like so many, we’ve been personally affected by the current pandemic.

But I know we’ll be there for each other and during these difficult times, that really is something to hold on to.

 

 

 

 

 

Positively Pessimistic

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Restriction to your home is not
The worst kind of jail
You can still pretend to work
If you can access your email

But it’s easy to find reasons
To not be very cheerful
When it seems that you’re increasingly
Encouraged to be fearful

It’s appears that times are dark
And possibly quite bleak
It’s hard to know what month it is
Let alone what day or week

And when you venture out
It’s worse outside than in
Attempts to buy toilet paper
Always end in your chagrin

You try to stay upbeat
But optimism’s hard to sell
When the contents of the half-full glass
Have a funny smell

Cautionary Tales

James Proclaims (4)

As the parent of a small child, I’m not unfamiliar with a children’s story or two. My daughter has a voracious appetite for literature. I mean quite literally, as I’ll often find her nibbling on a book.

Although she does appear to be growing out of that phase and enjoying books for their content too.

And I like reading them to her.

To be honest, I’m increasingly becoming a fan of books that are aimed at younger people. They have a lot of advantages over the books I normally read.

For starters, there are significantly fewer words, which means that when I pick one up and start reading it, I generally do always finish. This, alas, is not always the case for the books that are aimed at someone of my age.

Also there are pictures. It’s so much easier and more fun to read a book with pictures in it. Why does that stop when you get older?

Mainly though, I like books aimed at little children, because they are, for the most part, hugely entertaining.

Some make me laugh out loud.

Check out the ‘Oi Frog’ series of books by Kes Gray and Jim Field and I guarantee you will laugh multiple times.

Other favourites (of mine, though my daughter generally likes them too) would have to include ‘Wonkey Donkey’, ‘There’s a Monster in your Book’ and ‘Superworm’.

It occurs to me, however, that some of the books that I read with my daughter might have a slightly irresponsible message in these corona-times.

So I’ve taken the liberty of updating some of the ‘classics’ in order to make them more compliant with a world of social-distancing and ‘self-isolation’.

We’re Not Going On A Bear Hunt

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We’re not going on a bear hunt
We’re not going to catch a big one
What a beautiful day
We’re quite scared

Uh Uh! Government Advice!
Alarming, disarming government advice!
We can’t go over it
We can’t go under it
Oh no!
We’ll just have to stay in and self-isolate!

The Tiger Who Didn’t Come To Tea

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Once there was a little girl called Sophie, and she was having tea with her mummy in the kitchen.

Suddenly there was a ring at the door.

Sophie’s mummy said, “I wonder who that can be,

It can’t be the milkman because demands for that service have resulted in them refusing to accept new customers.

And it can’t be the boy from the grocer because you can’t book a home delivery slot for love nor money

And it can’t be Daddy because he isn’t a key-worker, so he’s already at home.

We’d better open the door and see.”

Sophie opened the door, and there was a big, furry, stripy tiger. The tiger said, “Excuse me, but I’m very hungry. Do you think I could have tea with you?”

Sophie’s mummy said, “I’m sorry, but due to the government’s policy on social-distancing, we can’t have anyone around for tea.”

The tiger nodded and said, “of course, I completely understand.”

And he left.

The Socially Responsible Gruffalo

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A mouse took a stroll through the deep dark wood.
A fox saw the mouse and the mouse looked good
But because the fox was adhering to advice on social-distancing, he didn’t interact with the mouse and instead returned promptly to his underground house.

And the same thing happened with the owl and the snake.
So the mouse didn’t meet anyone
Until he happened upon the Gruffalo

But the Gruffalo and the mouse also adhered to social-distancing etiquette
So they didn’t speak to each other.
And both also promptly returned to their homes
Once they’d had their daily allocation of exercise.

 

 

Pandemical Positives

James Proclaims (4)

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No-one loves a pandemic more than me.

Then again, no-one loves a pandemic less than me.

Because, presumably, no-one loves a pandemic.

Except possibly toilet-paper manufacturers.

But, on the whole, it’s fair to say that this whole pandemic malarkey is pretty bad news.

Nevertheless, if you can shake off the never-ending panic and crippling fear for a few moments, then there are one or two positives to be taken from the current situation we find ourselves in.

If you can ignore the agonizing pain of hand-washing-induced eczema caused by your ever-diminishing supplies of hand-soap, then you may yet find a reason or two to be cheerful.

Yes, in amongst the terrifying realisation that you’ve invented a new mental health condition that combines all the worst parts of claustrophobia, agoraphobia, enochlophobia, nosophobia and OCD, there could still be a silver-lining hidden amongst the gathering clouds of doom.

The British media might have you believe that the positives come from a camaraderie that is beginning to develop between us all. A sense that we’re all in this together. There was a moment on Thursday evening when many of us stood in our doorways and applauded the workers of the NHS. I’m normally cynical about such things but I’ll concede it was a much-needed moment of solidarity and actually genuinely heart-warming.

Still, I’ll feel even better about my fellow humans when I begin to see plentiful supplies of loo roll on the supermarket shelves.

And important though NHS staff undoubtedly are in this crisis, I personally feel that anyone who currently works in a supermarket is also deserving of our national gratitude. Because, although I’m avoiding the big stores as much as possible, when I have been forced to cross the threshold of one, I’ve found the staff to be universally  helpful, polite and friendly, which, in the current circumstances, is nothing short of heroic in my view.

The news, despite being mostly apocalyptic in tone, is interspersed with the odd bit of light relief. I enjoyed the story of the man who, deprived of his opportunity to run this year’s London marathon, opted to run the entire distance in his back garden. Although, the makeshift finish line, crafted by his son did seem like a frivolous use of toilet paper, all things considered.

For me though, the greatest positive is my family.

Deprived of actual contact with our parents and siblings, Mrs Proclaims and I have never been more active on social media. The daily videos of our nieces and nephews being ridiculously cute, comically crazy or, most often, a combination of both has been nothing short of delightful.

It’s probably sad to say we’re seeing more of them ‘virtually’ now then we ever managed in reality before all of this started.

And being trapped in a house with my own wife and child has actually been only beneficial. Of course Mrs Proclaims and I have our moments of discord, but we always did. I believe that’s called marriage.

But I think spending more time together has actually been good for us.

And, while I like to think I’ve always been pretty good at making time for the littlest ‘Proclaims’, the enforced additional time at home has helped me to connect with her on a whole new level and in the bizarrest, most unexpected of situations, I occasionally find myself feeling happier than I have in a long time.

Although I’m not sure my daughter shares the sentiment.

One of the more pretentious aspects of our parenting is that we’re attempting to bring our daughter up to be fluent in French. Mrs Proclaims and I speak French (she far better than I) so it seems like the least we could do is pass on that skill to our child.

And she’s developing quite well in that respect, having a vocabulary in both English and French that is pretty impressive for a toddler just shy of being twenty months old.

But one of her favourite French expressions at the moment is the following:

“Aux secours!”

Which roughly translates as:

“Help!”

And she only says it when I’m around.