The shape of things to come



We are looking for light at the end of the tunnel. Thoughts of the new vaccines seem to embody that hope. But there is something else we have our hopes fixed on and that is Christmas. The festival when family have always come together and the feeling is warm – forgetting the compulsory Brussels sprouts, of course.

After much thought, I have decided to cancel our normal Christmas – my family cannot travel to us, as they usually do, and messages with ‘Merry’ and ‘Jolly’ seem false. We will do video calls to family and friends but will not be sending cards and presents.

We must eat, though, and I needed to think about booking some December supermarket delivery slots. You could begin booking early one morning last week. I decided that I would start at 9am, when the rush was over. But the site crashed. I tried at half hourly intervals and eventually got in at midday.

In order to reserve a slot, you must ‘buy’ something. I was so nervous and, without thinking, I hurriedly booked two margarines and rushed on to confirm my order, hoping to add to it later. My friend did the same but she (more wisely) booked two whiskies. We imagined that if the site crashed again, she would have a better time than me! Maybe I could trade a tub for a bottle?

We are thinking of our winter vegetables now that summer is over. We have been self-sufficient in fruit and veg for eight months. But this season might not be as much fun. We have leeks, turnip and winter greens. Oh, how I long for the sweet trusses of tomatoes and the juicy cucumbers hanging in abundance. But last night we had our first leek soup and it was so rich, creamy and delicious that we scooped the whole bowl in minutes.

With the longer nights and second lockdown I miss my friends even more. Gone are the days when we sat and talked in homes and pubs. We keep in touch with video calls. Recently, I have come to think that everyone looks better than me on camera. Do I really look like that or is it just the angle? I have never thought that I was vain but, I must confess, I now check in the mirror and comb my hair before a call. I also think about what I am wearing, everyone else seems so well dressed.

It is strange that your face suddenly appears, when you press to call, and I am always taken by surprise. I rang my friend a minute early yesterday and ‘caught’ her putting on her lipstick – it gave me the chance to pat my hair into place.

I have learnt not to get too near, look ahead and keep smiling.

(taken from my column in the Shropshire Star, 'with Vicky Turrell')

winter greens in our polytunnel



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