by Judith Skilleter
Frances is not coming out of Covid 19 successfully. She quite likes the solitude and the working from home. In truth she is not in total solitude. She has Daz, her dachshund, named after a washing powder used by her grandmother all those years ago. He is a delight and quite enough company thank you. Frances had called her grandmother Nana Daz and she liked carrying on at least some of Nana Daz’s name.
Yes, Covid 19 has been ok, as far as she is concerned, almost enjoyable but mostly OK. Frances has had two doses of the vaccine and is waiting to be called for her booster jab and she has been very careful to avoid any gatherings where the virus might have been waiting to find her. And it has all suited her to a tee.
Frances hasn’t always lived alone – or at least living without another human being sharing her living space. There was a short-lived marriage a few years ago but they (or she?) much preferred being together to living together. There was a friendly divorce and life went on as if the wedding and everything that went along with it had never happened.
These days Frances’ days are spent at home, obviously. She has a routine. Up early, 7ish, and after a cup of tea she is out with Daz for about 30 minutes. Frances reckons that Daz, being a dachshund, does not need more than that. After all his fastest walk is more like a scuttle. Daz is not one for a 100 metre sprint. Home for breakfast and then she is at her desk by 9 at the latest. It has been this way all through Covid since she and her colleagues were asked to work from home. Who would have thought she would have enjoyed it so much?
There follows a light lunch at about 1pm and a quick Daz outing and then work until 6 or even 7. She does not mind the long hours at all. Her work gives her purpose and great satisfaction. Then dinner, usually on a tray in front of the TV, a final Daz outing and then bed with a book. Frances finds no sadness in her solitary routine.
She works for a tech firm. She has a combination position in that she is a high up administrator as well as personal assistant to one of the directors. Frances loves her work and she is good at it. She is known to be very reliable, and very hard working and even occasionally inspiring. Her ideas have been adopted by the firm on more than one occasion.
Bu Frances is now aware that after nearly 2 years of working from home and living a more solitary existence than before Covid 19 she is not looking forward to a return to normal living. And normal living is coming too quickly for her liking. Social distancing is rarely acknowledged nowadays and face masks are almost a thing of the past. Luckily, she rarely goes out, even her shopping is delivered and she is a great fan of Amazon Prime. But when she does go out she is disturbed by the ease with which people have forgotten the horrors of Covid 19.
Another thing she has noticed is a growing lack of confidence alongside her more cautious approach to life. This is very clear when she is driving her car. Her car has been round the block once a week, to turn the engine over, her mechanic said that was important, for the past 18 months. Even these short journeys unsettle Frances. It is a chore that has to be done and Frances has often thought that she would like to sell her car and put driving behind her.
So she is aware that she likes her new and more solitary existence very much but she is also aware that some things might have been lost as she made her way through Covid 19. And these things are self-confidence, courage and an ability to try new things or revisit familiar things without a second thought. Frances is not without self-awareness.
Frances has a sister with four, possibly five by now, children up in the Midlands. For forever she has visited her sister plus her increasing family at Christmas and during the summer. Pre-covid, Frances thought nothing of just getting in her car and heading north via motorways, side-roads and all sorts. In those days she decided to go, flung a few things in the car and set off. But now the thought of driving all that way fills her with fear. She is not convinced that she would get there and back safely and even the thought of sitting behind the wheel for a couple of hours in, most likely, heavy traffic scares her. It is something she feels she cannot do anymore and all her sister’s recent invitations have been fobbed off.
She has a few friends but Covid has meant that getting together and having outings have been few and far between. And do you know, Frances has not minded that at all?
Now it is all made worse by the fact that her boss has decided that his employees should start to return to the office, a gradual return, two, then three then four days and finally after a period of 6 months they would all be back to normal working hours in the office.
Frances is not happy with these plans. They mean she will have to drive to work daily, public transport is not possible, and she would have to spend her days with people. She would have to make small talk with people – and these people might ask her out for a drink or other scary outings. “Thank you, but no, I have to get back home for Daz, he has been on his own all day” is an excuse that will not be effective forever.
Frances is really not looking forward to a life without Covid19.
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