Another lockdown Monday morning rears it’s head, and to quote Morgan Freeman in ‘Shawshank Redemption,’ “time draws out like a blade.”
The first two weeks of January have been productive, culminating in the launch of my new website, but with my ‘to do’ list now done, I’m in danger of being headhunted by my wife for a teaching assistant role at Michelsberg Grammar.
Out of sight, out of mind, I ran for the hills, heading to Ilkley Moor to scope out potential trails for future running fodder.
Arriving at the car park below White Wells, the smell of diesel and old money hung in the mist, as sputtering Land Rovers deposited their cargo of woofing gundogs and folk clad in wax jackets and Le Chameau wellies.
Not content with sticking to the path, and feeling very much the part in my gators, Brasher boots and North Face ski jacket, I channelled my inner Bear Grylls, and headed ‘off-piste’ towards the tops.
Now there are chaps in the world with Garmin watches and the navigating skills of a migrating salmon.
And then there are people like me.
After an hour of scrabbling up rocky scars and wading through clumps of sodden heather, I was totally and utterly lost without a soul in sight.
So remote at one stage, I think I discovered a new species of bird, who furious at my intrusion, took flight with a cry that sounded like that of a baaing sheep.
My low point came as I reached the depths of a bracken strewn gully.
All around me the sound of rushing water, but none in sight.
Moving forward with the caution of a soldier clearing land mines in Rwanda, every tuft of grass was potentially a trap door, beneath which a raging torrent flowed.
With furrowed brow, I pressed on, my heart leaping for joy as I stumbled across footprints on a muddy path.
Like Robinson Crusoe before me, I had found my very own Man Friday, whose footsteps might lead me back to civilisation.
Finally back at base camp, I collapsed into the glorious warmth of my heated leather seat and headed home, arriving back in the nick of time to take delivery of a new Samsung ‘Smart’ television from John Lewis.
They call it a ‘smart’ tv because you need to have a Doctor of Science (ScD) from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to set it up.
I’m convinced Samsung is run by sadistic aliens, who for light entertainment, install hidden cameras into their units, and like the Truman show, watch people like myself crash from one unmitigated disaster into another.
Never have I felt older in my life than dealing with the Herculean task that lay before me.
After creating a Samsung Account that demanded enough personal information to have an identity fraudster slobbering down his hooded top, my concerns were slightly allayed with a verification process to rival that of accessing a Swiss bank account.
With verification codes, passwords and two-step-authentication process in place, my final step was to await the arrival by helicopter of a Mr Mendel, whose aluminium briefcase contained a keypad to allow entry to step two:
Connecting the telly to our WiFi box.
Why is the password on these things so ridiculously complicated?
Are there organised crime syndicates out there whose sole purpose is to use my broadband account to watch ‘The Queen’s Gambit’ for free?
Numbers, letters, big font, small font, symbols, it goes on forever.
There are nuclear silos with more straightforward passcodes.
And then the agonising, tortuous, teeth grinding task of having to key it all in, using the tiny arrow-keys on the remote control, to navigate round a virtual keyboard on the screen.
Remember the film ‘War Games’?
I had “Access Denied” displayed on my screen more times than David Lightman did, trying to hack into the American military supercomputer WOPR.
After a mind-numbing hour and a half, we were in, with Netflix primed and ready to launch the American teen sitcom horror show that is ‘Sam & Cat’, whose nauseating behaviour is behind every eye rolling, huffy, self-obsessed, pain in the arse, pre-pubescent girl in this country.
Leaving the kids to corrupt their souls in the newly christened ‘TV room’, I headed upstairs to the lounge with an alcohol free beer, to watch one of my favourite shows, ‘Suits.’
Yes, that’s right, alcohol free, as penance for my considerable sins in 2020, and a Christmas so indulgent, it would have had Oliver Reed booking into Addcounsel.
I tell you I’m going dry, not to show off like all those noisy do-gooders with more Justgiving pages than a Samsung instruction manual, but because I need to share my pain.
Oh, how I miss my weekend gin-fests of juniper soaked joviality!
Particularly at a time when my shop is shut and the weather not conducive to sun worshipping sessions in my bespoke mankini.
In a slightly masochistic way, my bog-reader of choice is currently, ‘The World Atlas of Wine,’ by Hugh Johnson and Jancis Robinson, and I’m taking a degree of pleasure in planning my return back to the soothing charms of the grape.
There are clearly some hard yards ahead for us all this year, and on a personal level, I have to accept a situation that once again leaves me unable to do the job I love.
For now, I’m furiously rubbing my gratitude stone (that’s not a euphemism!) and doing everything possible to find fun and positivity in this world.
Whether that’s writing this blog, running through the woods, playing the piano, or cooking dhal, fear not, I will not let Lockdown 3.0 get me down.
At the end of the day, as Red said in ‘Shawshank Redemption,’ I can “Get busy living, or get busy dying.”