#LockdownDiary – One of many – Day 25

#LockdownDiary – One of many – Day 25

Day 25

‘Hi, I’m Allysse. We spoke on the phone yesterday.’


‘I’m Allysse from the mutual aid group. We spoke about shopping for you yesterday,’ I repeat louder and slower.

‘Oh yes. How are you?’

‘I’m good. How are you?’

‘Oh you know…’

I nod. Yes, I know.

‘Did you receive a letter from the government?’ I ask.

‘No. No I didn’t.’

I’m a bit dismayed at this. This lady is 92 and although cheerful, she doesn’t look in the strongest of health.

‘I’m keeping under the radar, you see,’ she adds jokingly.

I laugh with her but I am glad she found out about the mutual aid group. She has no family that can help and she is too afraid to get out. I can’t blame her. We chitchat for a while, me repeating my sentences often, her asking the same questions multiple times.

She hands me her shopping list and some cash with a litter picker. I grab it with the tip of my fingers, trying to keep as much distance as possible.

‘I’ll give you a ring as soon as I know when we can get the shop to you.’

‘Thank you.’

The door closes and I walk back home. On the way, I text the network of neighbours we’ve built during this crisis. Within minutes multiple people have come forward.

I knock on a door, leave the list, cash, and carrier bags on the ground.

‘How are you keeping,’ I enquire.

‘I’m doing alright.’

We chat for a while about work, about the lady who needs some food, about the sunshine, and this and that.

‘Thanks again for doing this,’ I tell the woman two metres away from me.

I walk away and she disappears inside her house. I presume she is after some hand gel or spray cleaner to disinfect the bags.

As I leave her, I put on my headphones and begin to run. I have found a route of deserted streets that lead me to the business park and warehouse park where I work. Most offices and buildings are closed and no one goes walking there. There are plenty better areas for a daily outing. But I don’t like those other areas, not for a run. Here I can lose myself in the podcast in my ears, I can listen to the pounding of my feet on the asphalt without worrying about people. Occasionally I have to take a wide berth to avoid a lone pedestrian, but mostly I’m alone. I carry no worries but the rhythm of my breathing.

At the roundabout that will lead me to the duck pond near work, I see a cyclist wondering where to go. I envy their ability to ride. Before this run, I have joined the Cycle Touring Festival online. People have been sharing photos of their lockdown rides. They look happy. I yearn for my bike and the freedom to roam but sitting atop my saddle, I worry about every passing pedestrians, runners, and cyclists that pass by too close to my liking. So my bikes have remained in the garden, unridden.

I take a turn and go back to the road that will lead me home. I expected it to be busy but the pavement is mine on this Saturday morning. So I keep running, the downward slope of the hill carrying me home fast.

In the garden, my partner is mowing the grass with the neighbour lawnmower. They saw her with a pair of scissors earlier on and took pity on her. The grass looks odd cut short. It is more burnt than I expected. What had been a luscious area of grass is now looking parched. We have a lot to learn to maintain our garden as we’d like.

I hop in the shower, the warm water soothing aching muscles. Clean and refreshed, I cook lunch and we eat in the garden. As two o’clock strikes, I run back upstairs. There is a talk about to start at the virtual Cycle Touring Festival. I sit at the desk, log into Zoom, open Slack, and wait for the talk to begin.

There are familiar names on the screen. People I have met at previous festivals, people I have shared a beer, a cup or tea and some cake with. I think of Clitheroe and the river running at the bottom of the field. I think of the warm sunshine and a swim in the river. I think about my tent I haven’t pitched in the garden and of waking up to the sight of now familiar hills. I think of the hubbub of activity in the rooms filled with talks, the turning of wheels by the bike tent, the constant chatter in the air as I lay on the grass.

I turn my head towards the window and think of all the roads I haven’t cycled yet, of the footpaths signs I have noticed yesterday as my partner and I drove to pick up some eggs. There will be time to explore again. For now, I must be satisfied with dreaming.

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