Covid-19 lockdown day 12: 'Keeping Dad in lockdown'

Sarah Simons explains the challenge of getting her father, always eager to help others, to stick to the isolation rules
1st April 2020, 10:36am


Covid-19 lockdown day 12: 'Keeping Dad in lockdown'
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While the day started at a normal time for my husband and I, my son had been staying up later and later, editing film for his YouTube channel and chatting with his global nerd-colleagues. Just before lunch, we remembered that our son had not yet risen. After repeated bellowing up the stairs bore no fruit, we went to pester him awake. There was no answer when we knocked on his door so we tippy-toed in, cooing about our little baby and threatening to pile on for a cuddle. He was as delighted as any half-conscious 15-year-old would be.

Having woken the nocturnal teenager, it was time to check up on my Dad. Less than a week in and he was struggling with lockdown. I called him at home and he wasn't answering. With no chance of him actually staying inside for an elongated period of time, I assumed he had gone on his daily stroll through the nearby woods. I called his mobile to check. He was in his van on his way to someone's house. A customer had called him with water pouring through their ceiling.

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I rose like Godzilla from the deep. "We've not been stuck in this bloody house so the likes of you can go out and get it and spread it all over. Turn your van around and get home."

He was concerned about the people whose leak he was going to fix. I suggested that he gave me their number and I could perhaps discuss with them how appropriate it was, in these times, to call out an 80-something-year-old plumber. He wasn't so keen on that either.

Still fuming, I told him that I was ringing his home number in 10 minutes and if he didn't answer I would be straight in the car and on the motorway to come up and fetch him. Ten minutes later he answered his home phone.

So the new Dad plan was that he would be heading down to stay with us later that day. We only had one more day until quarantine was up and it seemed safer to imprison him with us, than protect him from us. He's not to be trusted to follow the rules. If somebody needs his help, he'll grab his tool box and go bounding in without a thought for the implications not just to himself but for others.

By teatime, I'd already had a row with my son and my Dad, so the 5pm government briefing would in comparison be a bit of light relief. Or so I thought…

Christ, now they've all got it - Boris, Matt Hancock, the doctor bloke who takes the backing singer position on the daily briefing line-up. I shall miss him. Instead, taking centre stage was Mr Gove. Well, you should've seen my Facebook feed. I don't think I've seen so many C words (not coronavirus) so liberally scatted throughout. Suffice to say, as much as I am not fan of Mr Johnson, there is an argument that it could be worse…

We were running low on food and, with my Dad on his way, that was beginning to be a problem. No supermarkets had any delivery slots for the next three weeks or any click-and-collect ones either. I found a huge bag of gram flour that I'd bought to make onion bhajis that one time and not touched since. Google told me I could fashion some marvellously tasty flatbreads from it, so I went to work. Google was lying. I cooked batch after batch of awful clammy circles, flopping 'em out of the pan and into the oven one by one, hoping that would, as promised "crisp them up". It did not.

I flounced from the kitchen in a sweaty huff just as my Dad arrived. He tumbled through the door with heaving carrier bags containing every last tin, packet and bottle from his food cupboard. And on End of Self-Isolation Eve, we ate like kings.

Sarah Simons works in colleges and adult community education in the East Midlands and is the director of UKFEchat. She tweets @MrsSarahSimons

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