I’m Pretty Fucking Far From OK

It’s Mental Health Awareness Week, so I’ll be honest: I’ve had it up to here with this m************ lockdown

Ving Rhames and Bruce Willis in a scene from Pulp Fiction

“ARE YOU OK? Are you all well?”

Have you noticed that, since the start of lockdown, people are asking questions like that and sounding as if they actually mean them, for once?

It’s one of the nicer aspects of being in the middle of a global pandemic – a sense that the person asking actually cares how you are, and isn’t just doing it out of politeness.

I reckon this comes from a tacit acceptance that we’re all vulnerable at the moment – so it’s all right to admit to a certain weakness.

Which is not the worst way to be in Mental Health Awareness Week.

But even now, when someone asks if I’m OK, I’m not laying my entire soul on the line.

I might say something guardedly revealing of certain susceptibilities – and then slap back on the stiff upper lip and add: “Of course we’re coping better than expected.”

So it’s not exactly full disclosure – but this is: today I feel pretty fucking far from OK.

After two mostly contented months, in which I Did The Clear Skies, Did The Birdsong, got a lot of running done and bonded with the family, I’ve had it up to here with this Coronavirus thing.

We’re still expected to be disciplined and productive, working from home, when we can see the kids in the garden sunbathing”

For a start, the effing birdsong woke me at 3.53am today. And then I couldn’t get back to sleep for thinking about all the things that were bugging me during lockdown.

Firstly, it seems that there’s no end to it: we’ve been at home for almost nine weeks now, and you can have too much of a good thing.

It would help if we had a Government that could (a) test (b) trace or (c) communicate properly, especially as we’re just about to hit high summer, and we’re still stuck at home.

We’re still expected to be disciplined and productive when we can see the kids out in the garden sunbathing. Sunbathing.

The devil is making nasty work for idle hands to do in lockdown, much of it online”

There’s also evidence that The Devil is finding nasty work for idle hands to do in lockdown, much of it online.

The other day, I heard my elderly neighbour through the wall, screaming at her bank, because her account had been cleaned out by fraudsters pretending to be Amazon.

The bank has – thank goodness – refunded her, but there were a horrible few days of uncertainty when she couldn’t sleep and berated herself for being stupid, while we thought of lame ways to cheer her up.

But a bunch of asparagus from our garden and a bit of generic computer safety advice doesn’t really cut it when you’re faced with losing your life savings.

I put a baseball bat in the hall, just in case”

Another scary thing happened to us yesterday: my 16-year-old son got a ‘prank’ call from someone saying he owed him £5,000 on a drug deal – apparently, he’s been directing this narcotics empire from his bedroom in between his homework and his Airfix models.  

But the caller was quite persuasive, probably looking at Google Maps, as he said he knew where we lived and even the colour of our front door.

I told The Lad it was just a shitty joke, and that the white Beemer he’d been told to be afraid of definitely wouldn’t be coming to call. But I put a baseball bat in the hall, just in case.

Add to that the fact that my daughter’s limbo – furloughed from work, unsure about what she’s going to get for her Nine Grand at university next term – is driving her mad, and it was a pretty sombre set of parents who met for a late sundowner in the garden last night.

And that was another thing: I wasn’t supposed to be drinking, so I started worrying about being a budding alcoholic again.

Then I started thinking about my waistline and how I wouldn’t be able to run the calories off in the morning because I’d be hungover, and by the time the hangover had cleared it would be too hot to run….

So, thanks for asking, man. But nah, I’m pretty fucking far from OK. 

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