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.

 

 

Don’t Panic!

James Proclaims (4)

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In these unusual times, you do start to reassess your values and priorities and begin to focus on what’s really important.

And for the people of Britain, what’s really important appears to be toilet paper. It’s one of the cornerstones of our national identity apparently.

I had eschewed the supermarkets in recent days but ventured forth last night and the situation regarding hand soap and the aforementioned loo roll still seems pretty bleak, and it’s concerning that this is still the case in what feels like quite a long time after restrictions were imposed on how much of this stuff you can actually buy in any one visit.

For now we’re holding out at Chez Proclaims, but I fear we will run out of these staples of British life long before the supermarkets are back to being adequately stocked. I might have to sneak into the school that employs me (which is still currently operating, seemingly for the benefit of one solitary student – a preposterous figure in it’s own right, but more so when you realise that in my school it translates to less than 0.1% of the entire student body) to steal some of the toilet paper from there if the situation doesn’t improve soon.

Fortunately food seems to be less of an issue. Milk seems a little problematic (how and why are people stockpiling milk? Surely it’ll go off long before it can be used? Unless people are taking up new hobbies in this time of social-distancing. Like making their own yogurt?) but we’ve been able to get what we need, and the rush on fruit and veg seems to have abated a little, so while tinned stuff seems hard to come by, there seem to be sufficient supplies of food to live off. And we never ate much tinned stuff before this all started so I’m not sure why I’d want to start now. Then again, the dire situation in the supermarkets might have been caused by panic-buying but those of us who didn’t join in are the ones who feel pretty stupid at the moment so maybe I should reassess my policy on tinned produce. In the interests of full disclosure, I did join in with the panic buying a little bit (not exactly a shock revelation given that I already wrote about doing just that in this post), but only insofar as I’d have enough stuff to last a potential two-week period of self-isolation and I’m going to run out of that stuff fairly soon, without showing the slightest hint that I might have COVID-19.

So it’s all a bit irritating really.

Particularly if I now get COVID-19.

Admittedly if I do get COVID-19, perhaps a lack of loo roll would not necessarily be my primary concern. But I imagine it would still be a bit of a concern.

On a positive note, the supermarket I did dare to venture into (along with Mini-Proclaims) was a Waitrose, (I just wasn’t brave enough for Aldi) and they have adopted a social-distancing policy of restricting the numbers of shoppers inside the store at any one time. It was mildly irritating to have to queue outside initially (and because the people in the queue were all standing the requisite two metres apart, I initially mistook them for slightly antisocial loiterers and tried to walk into the shop without queuing. The manager corrected my mistake with the exemplary courtesy that you’d expect of a Waitrose employee but it was mildly embarrassing until I observed several other shoppers make exactly the same mistake as me) but it didn’t take too long and then, once my daughter and I crossed the threshold, there were so few other people in there it really was the nirvana of shopping experiences.

Except for the lack of toilet paper obviously.