March 17, 2020

Start of the self-imposed ‘self-isolation’ – Day minus 1!

Meg and I had intended to visit an elderly relative in North Wales next Wednesday but have called off our trip as the situation deteriorates. We will now start our ‘self isolation’ from Wednesday onwards but the Government announcements today may mean that we start on Tuesday, 17th March.

Today was an interesting day. I got to the pharmacy to pick up some medication at about 8.0am and then on to our local ALDI which had been pretty devasted the previous day – but the shortages were not as bad as I might have predicted. I did a ‘normal’ weeks shopping, my previous trip having been very light as we thought that we were going to be away. So we are stocked up with about 1.5 weeks shopping and have just learned how to utilise Ocado to have a delivery of supplies next Sunday (and for the foreseeable future)

Our local GP practice now has an online system – I learned how to navigate this to get a query answered about me medication for high blood pressure (I am 10mg Ramipril and I have learned this is an ACE type drug which latches onto the same receptors as the Coronavirus itself making any complication much more severe) I indicated that I had stopped my medication and the community pharmacist phoned me to say he had heard of the same report in The Lancet (medical journal) last week. If anyone wants the link, I will send it on to you! To cut a long story short, the pharmacist consulted with the doctors and they have issued me with an alternative Calcium Channel Blocker (Amlopodine) – I go into all of these details in case anyone else has the same medication issues.

Then onto my local ASDA to pick up one or two last-minute things before my self-imposed isolation – what a sorry sight (devasted, empty shelves, etc) I took some money out of my account using the cash machine to tide me over the next week or so. Now for a pleasant surprise – Holiday Inn in Chester refunded all of the money we had already paid for a three-night stay. However, it is going to be a long battle to get my money back from a holiday in Portugal planned for nest May – the credit card company say to contact your travel agent, the travel agent says contact the airline, the airline (Iberia) have written to say ‘Nothing we can do!’As all of these companies might go bust as people try to get their money back, they are all passing the buck onto everyone else. I am sure lots of you have similar stories.

This has been a long post – tomorrow I will regale you with two funny (and true !) stories about my experiences with the Spanish language

Tuesday, March 17th, 2020

[Day 1]

How do I feel at the start of this period of 4 months(?) of self-imposed isolation? Well, I suppose it is not unlike the emotions that people felt in the 1950’s when they were diagnosed with TB and had to spend 12 months in a sanitorium or eve as prisoners might feel at the start of a custodial sentence! I rather think it might have been like this is the world had been involved in a nuclear war and, after an explosion on the other side of the globe, you knew that something unseen but invidious was coming your way…

I started the day by texting my Pilates teacher, Helen, informing her and my fellow classmates that I would not be around for a bit and wishing them all well. Then I sent a message to one of my wonderfully friendly staff in Waitrose down the road to inform other staff members and some of the regulars of my contact details (mobile, email, blog) in case any of them wanted to keep in touch with us. I received a telephone chat call from my good friend Professor Dan Remenyi and we exchanged views on the state of the world we were in. Meg and I then set off for a pre-planned walk in a local park which is about 1km and a half away and we sat on a park bench drinking from our flask of coffee and ensuring that we were at least 10m away from any other park visitors (mainly dog walkers) Then we watched the Politics Today program starting at 12.15 on BBC2 before having lunch of our previously made Fish Pie.

The highlight of our afternoon was a good FaceTime video chat with our good friends Dave and Denise before we had our own tea. We have adopted a policy of keeping to strict meal times so that we minimise social contact with our son and daughter-in-law in case any of us are the unwitting bearer of virus. I had ensured that throughout the day each bathroom as ell supplied with a bar of soap (supposedly much more efficient at removing viruses than liquid soap.

I had promised? threatened? a couple of Spanish stories – apologies to my friends in Bromsgrove who have heard them both before and repeated ‘ad nauseam’ The first relates to our last holiday in La Coruña. Northern Spain when I realised that we were short of a comb. So I walked into a pharmacy and announced ‘Buenos dias, señora – quisiera comprar un nuevo pene por favor’ The assistant looked quite astonished until I realised that I had said ‘Good morning, madam – I would like to purchase a new willy, please’ To make matters worse, I went on to explain that I needed something that was just of the right size that was not too large but would just fit conveniently into my right hand. Too late, I discovered that I had mixed up the word for a combe which ‘peine’ with the slang word for a willy which is ‘pene’ – well, it is easily done.

The second story relates to one of the local hospitals who phoned up about two days beforehand saying, ‘Good morning, Mr.Hart – what are you doing first thing on Sunday morning? Would you like to come in and have a gastroscopy (tube down the throat into the duodenum to check for nasties) I knew it was about two years since the last check-up so I thought I had better get it over and done with. I was ‘prepared’ for the procedure by a little nurse who announced me ‘Good morning Mr. Hart – I am Amparo and I am looking after you today’ Having established that she was, in fact, Spanish we continued chatting in Spanish but I was not at my best at 8.0am on a Sunday morning. The conversation took the following turn: ‘I know what I would be rather be doing at 8.30 on a Sunday morning’ ‘Yes – me too’ ‘What would you rather be doing by doing on a Sunday morning?’ ‘I would like to be snuggled up in bed next to my husband!’ [Then it started to go horribly wrong] – I replied ‘Yes. so I would I – I mean not YOUR husband but I meant somebody else’s husband. No – I didn’t mean that – I meant to say ‘Somebody else’s wife’ No – I didn’t mean that either – I meant ‘Next to next t0 my own wife’ ‘Are you sure?’ she said. ‘Well’, I said hesitantly thinking about what I had just said (in Spanish) – ‘I think so’ “You don’t sound very sure to me!’ she said. ‘Yes, I said (weakly) ‘I am sure’ ‘We wouldn’t want you getting mixed up between my husband, someone else’s husband, someone else’s wife and your own wife, now would we?’ ‘No’ – I said. ‘So that’ got that little confusion out of the way then! We giggled together…