‘There are two women in my house – and one is driving me nuts’

Isolation and Alexa are driving George Layton to despair

Monday 30th March

I don’t know if it’s just me, but every time I catch sight of a photo of Dominic Cummings in his trade-mark beanie hat and clothes that one assumes he’s picked up at a local jumble sale, I think it’s Maggie Smith in the film Lady In The Van.  

Lockdown Week Two begins with my stomach churning as I read of another suspected coronavirus infection, together with a photograph of Dame Maggie.  

“Oh no!”  I call to my wife. “Dame Maggie Smith might have Covid 19!  It’s terrible. She’s 85!”

I show her the paper.

“Idiot!” she says. “That’s Dominic Cummings!”

I take another look.

“You’re right”

Her eyes narrow.

“Bloomin’ hard to tell the difference,” I concede grudgingly. 

Tuesday

I’ve always been a bad sleeper.  I can count the number of times I have had a good night’s sleep on one hand. 

Curiously, the best night’s sleep I ever had was years ago in Manchester after recording Celebrity Telly Addicts with Noel Edmunds. 

But last night was terrible.  I just couldn’t stop worrying about the three of our kids who work freelance. Their incomes have been decimated.  

OK, the Bank of Mum & Dad can try and help but we’re not one of the big five.  There are limited funds and at their last bedroom meeting – sorry – boardroom meeting, the two directors voted to forgo any dividend this year. 

Look, this lockdown is horrible, I hate it and we’re the fortunate ones. Lockdown in a pleasant home with a garden is a luxury compared with what masses of people have to cope with.

And as for those poor souls in Italy, in Syria, in refugee camps… the list is endless. It’s heartbreaking. Don’t forget the millions in America without medical insurance, either. God bless the NHS. I’ll be out there clapping on Thursday.So, as I write this weekly diary, don’t think I’m not sensitive to the gravity of this situation. Of course I am. I just hope that my sidelong take on life and quirky sense of humour is a brief distraction from this Covid 19 nightmare and may bring a smile.  A moment’s respite.   

Tomorrow is another day…


Wednesday

I wake up to hear President Trump on the Today programme. He sounds oddly different. Calmer. Measured. Almost…no, not statesman-like, just less Trump-like.

Uncharacteristically, he is speaking sensitively about the painful weeks ahead. Only a few days ago he was spouting that America would be open for business by Easter and prattling on about the churches being packed.  

Hang on – it’s April 1st! It’s Jon Culshaw doing one of his brilliant impressions.  

No! It is Trump. Shows how bad things are when that lunatic is facing up to reality. 

Taking in the tea, Moya asks what she asks every morning.

“What’s the news?”

“Same old, same old…Oh – Donald Trump has resigned”.

 “What?” She could not have looked more delighted if I had told her that Covid 19 had miraculously disappeared overnight. “George – that’s amazing! Fantastic!”

“April Fool!”

I grin inanely. She doesn’t. Not a great start to the day.  

Funny, she used to like my quirky sense of humour.



Thursday

It’s no good. I’ve got to pull myself together. I’m doing nothing. Just aimlessly lazing around, watching the news and…doing nothing!  

I’m even finding it hard to procrastinate. There’s nothing I need to do. Well, clear out the garden shed I suppose, I have been putting that off. Ah, that’s more positive, I’m procrastinating! Better than doing nothing.

Seriously, I’m a mess. I’ve fallen off the Pilates wagon. I’m out of control comfort eating. Not just normal, healthy pre-Covid 19 comfort eating, I’m shoveling down chocolate digestives and ginger nuts like there’s no tomorrow! Oops – I think I could have put that better…

Right, I’m going to go and tackle that blessed shed. First, I’ll have a cup of tea and a chocolate b… No I won’t, we’ve run out biscuits. All right, I’ll have a cup of tea and watch the latest news. No! No more news! Let’s have some music.

“Alexa…”

There are two women in this house; my wife and Alexa. One of them I argue with a lot. And it’s not my wife. Alexa and I have a temperamental relationship:

George: Alexa, BBC radio 4 please.

Alexa: Hmm… I can’t find that.

George: Alexa! You played radio 4 yesterday. F****** well play it today!!

Alexa: BBC radio 4 from Tunein.

George, smiling smugly: Don’t mess with me, Alexa!


Friday

When I’m listening to the radio or watching television and I hear the phrase “80-year old…” or “85-year old…” followed by a recognizable name, I wonder which famous person/celebrity/household name has become acquainted with the grim reaper.

Today I hear: “89-year old Bernie Ecclestone…” That’s a shame.  

But, 89, it’s a good age. Fantastic. Well done, Bernie. Rest in peace.   

The announcer continues: “89-year old Bernie Ecclestone is to become a father for the fourth time…!”

Well done, Bernie. Rest while you can.


Saturday

Years ago I heard BBC correspondent Colin Paterson on the radio reporting that  “…David Bowie would not be attending the music awards ceremony in London because he is living with a man in New York…”

That is a very odd reason, I remember thinking.  I mentioned it to my wife later in the day. I got the Moya narrowing of the eyes. (Aquamarine by the way.) 

“He’s not coming because he’s living with Iman in New York! His wife!!”

“Oh…”

Something similar happened this morning. Waking up to the Today programme, I hear a piece about the impending result in the Labour leadership contest (this has been running longer than Strictly, gosh I’m excited!) 

In my dozy state I hear: “…and Rebecca Long- Bailey, who got off to a slow start because her campaign failed to gain Momentum…”

Knowing that M/s Long-Bailey had the unanimous support of Momentum, I’m confused. Shows the importance of the written word.

Stop press: President God has spoken. Against all advice to his fellow Americans, he is not going to wear a face mask.  Terrific! Back to normal.  

One despairs…

Sunday

I am realizing something. Sunday has become the most dreaded day of the lockdown week.  

On a beautiful day like today, it’s usually a ring around for an impromptu family get-together. BBQ probably, lunch on the deck, the grandchildren playing in the garden.

“Don’t kick the ball into the flowers! Grandma will get cross!!”

Wouldn’t Grandma love it if those munchkins were here now, wrecking her flowers. 

And if any of our four kids can’t come because they’re seeing their own friends, so what? They’ve got busy social lives and that makes us happy.  Now all we’ve got is social distanced lives in separate homes

No amount of Face-timing, Whats-apping, Zoom-ing, House-Party-ing can replace an embrace and a kiss – and that’s just the grown-up kids.  

When it comes to those grandchildren, we can’t wait to give them a kiss and a cuddle…