Monday 23rd March 2020 will go down in history... as the day Black Sheep started to think he was Samuel Pepys. It was also the day the lockdown started
Well, what did we expect? With the world facing up to a global pandemic, perhaps it wasn’t the best of times for Snowdonia to record its busiest weekend.
From the garden I could hear the distant buzz of motorbikes above a steadier than ever hubbub of road noise, regardless of all the pubs being shut. Lake Llanyllanllan would be under siege I told myself. So I did my bit. I got in my car to go and remonstrate with the townies.
But oh my days. The traffic! Not that I was gonna let that stop me. I’ll sit in this queue all day, I thought. These idiots have got to be told.
And now look. Because of their outrageous behaviour, clogging up the roads like that, it seems Boris is gonna ground us. Well I hope everyone’s pleased with themselves. It was bad enough it took me ages to get home, let alone the corner shop running out of bog roll (I popped in to get a few multipacks of baked beans before everyone started panic buying again).
Sure enough, at 8:30pm Bozzer addresses the nation. “All over the world we are seeing the devastating impact of this invisible killer,” he says. Too right. The bins are overflowing around the lake. But now he’s on about social distancing.
“Though huge numbers are complying,” he says, “the time has come for us all to do more. From this evening I must give the British people a very simple instruction. You must stay at home.”
Knew it. Grounded. Told you. And no TV for a week, probably.
“I urge you at this moment of national emergency,” he concludes, “stay at home, protect our NHS and get Brexit done. Errr… I mean… Save lives.”
Digesting the full impact of yesterday’s bombshell. We can still shop, but only for necessities. We can still go to work. Great - thanks. We can take one form of exercise a day, and no more. And we should use food delivery services where we can.
Well that’s a relief. That was sounding pretty bad for a minute. But takeaway curries for a month? That’s my idea of perfect self-isolation. Now the marathon training has gone to pot.
Lone wolf phones later. Says he’s okay with everything except the exercise bit. “Do we really have to do it once a day?” he moans.
The Sainsbury’s van has got lost. The driver phones us from a farm in the next village. Says he’s already been to three other properties. So much for social distancing. I say don’t worry, I’ll go to Tesco instead. Every little helps.
When I get back there’s an email from work. It’s bad news; nearly everyone’s been laid off. Though on the plus side I’ve been given a promotion. To Head of Everything. I phone the editor but she says she can’t talk as she’s on furlough. I tell her I’ve never heard of that drug and she puts the phone down.
Look in the mirror - hair’s a bit long. I was gonna get it cut in time for the marathon. Mrs Sheep had me booked in with Toni. Or was it Guy? Can never remember which. Anyway, they’re both regarded as non-essential now. Which is a bit insulting.
Lone Wolf calls again. I ask him if he knows any good shearers. He says Alan.
Strange words seem to be entering the English language. Apparently everyone at work has been furlonged, according to our boss who’s self-isolating. Basically the team have been sent home to do nothing. But I’m not to worry as the Chancellor’s going to personally pay 80 percent of their wages.
What about my wage, I ask. Boss says seeing as I get paid bugger all, 80 percent of bugger all is still bugger all, so I might as well go full-time, answer the phone and make the tea. For one.
I stay late to do a stock take of magazines and on the way home pop into the corner shop for some more baked beans just before it shuts at 8pm. You can never have enough beans, especially when idiots are panic buying.
Weirdly, as I come out, everyone starts clapping and banging pot and pans. I only worked a couple of extra hours but it’s great to feel appreciated for keeping the wheels of industry turning.
Have to leave early again for work. I ask Mrs Sheep if she minds being left alone like this every day. She says she’ll try and cope, for the sake of the country.
The phone eventually goes in the office, just after lunch. I clear my throat. “Good afternoon, Border Publishing… You’re through to the Head of Everything Mr Sheep, how can I help?”
I can’t quite place the accent, but no, I say, I haven’t been mis-sold PPI. “You can try the hospitals though,” I suggest. “I hear they’ve been mis-sold sold PPE.”
Not much else doing at work so I decide to go and polish the boardroom. Then I remember I’m Head of Everything, so take my seat at the top of the table. Chairman of the Bored.
I get a text from Lone Wolf. He says he’s just been followed. “You mean furlogged,” I text back. He says no. He was followed by police after taking a pot-bellied pig for a walk. “But you haven’t got a pot-bellied pig,” I say. “I know,” he says. “But they didn’t know that.” I choose to end the conversation there.
Saturday. A lie in at last. Both Bozzer and the Health Secretary have got coronavirus. The coronavirus. Covid-19. Sars-Cov-2. Just what the hell is this thing called anyway? Can’t we just agree on a name and be done with it?
I vow to keep fit and head down to the lake for a jog around. “How long you going for?” asks Mrs Sheep. I explain that Michael Gove says if we’re going for a run then we should stick to our usual distance, which for me is now 20 miles, given I was in the middle of marathon training when all this kicked off. But then I feel sorry for leaving her again and say I’ll just go for a quick jog. “No, no,” she insists. “You’ve got to keep your fitness up if you’re going to save the magazine publishing world.”
It’s wonderfully quiet at the lake, and the wildlife is out in force. A red kite hovers over the damn, a heron drifts past and a cormorant ripples through the mirrored surface of the water as all around road-hogging squirrels seem to know there’s no traffic anymore. As I complete my lap a goosander eyes me nonchalantly from one of the small stone bridges dotted around the lake. What a silver lining. Our wildlife are taking back control.
The big hotel on the hill, closed of course, looms menacingly over the lake. And I for one am staying well away, for fear of an axe-wielding madman marauding around the gardens shouting “here’s Johnny!”.
Sunday. Not that you’d know it. Every day is like Sunday. Which suddenly gives me a great idea. I’m going to start a Covi’ playlist. Here goes…
1. Every Day Is Like Sunday, by Morrissey
2. Ummm… Leave it with me.
Click here for Week 2