Back in the driving seat

It’s my first time behind the wheel of my car in two months. I drive in too low a gear and the thing sounds even more like a sewing machine than it did back in the middle of March.

Up until now, Mr Grigg has been doing our essential shopping and I’ve stayed at home. But I realised today the longer I did that, the less likely I would ever leave the house again. I have become the archetypal hermit and I am loving it.

Today, I’m off over the hill to the nearest town to pick up some medication and some dog food. I might also call in at the garden centre to pick up some lavender plants and compost, now that I’m allowed.

At the doctor’s surgery, a female patient six feet in front of me clutches a large bunch of flowers. She got an appointment with the nurse and is planning to show her appreciation.

I wait until it’s my turn and I’m called forward, so I adjust my Buff snood over my nose and mouth with gloved hands. There are big screens to protect the receptionists and signs everywhere. A big ball of metaphorical tumbleweed rolls through the waiting room and out the back door. Bar the flower lady and myself, the place is absolutely empty.

Back in the town, I pull up outside the pharmacy for some aspirin and razors. There is plenty of parking in a street where almost no shops are open. Outside the pharmacy, there is a man sitting on bench one side of the door and a woman on the other, talking to a friend with a dog. It’s not a very interesting conversation which is a shame because, as one of life’s eavesdropping prospectors constantly panning for nuggets of dialogue, I can hear it loud and clear because they are so far apart.

The town is dead. The postmaster next door is standing on the doorstep looking lost and I feel guilty that I haven’t brought a parcel to post, just to give him some business. I venture into the pharmacy after reading the sign saying only two customers allowed in the shop at any one time and do my socially distant and masked transaction as if I am a bank robber.

Up at the garden centre, the place is heaving with cars. People seem to be observing the social distancing requirements but I don’t look too closely because I decide to turn around and go home. I don’t need compost or flower seeds badly enough to wait with all these people.

On the way home, I pick up two bags of dog food from the agricultural merchants in a swift and painless transaction at the door, followed by a socially distant chat with the manager.

Heading home and listening to Steve Wright in the Afternoon, it has all been most peculiar. The main thing though is I’ve remembered how to drive a car.

That’s about it.

Love Maddie x

By Maddie Grigg

Maddie Grigg is the pen name of former local newspaper editor Margery Hookings. Expect reflections on rural life, community, landscape, underdogs, heritage and folklore. And fun.

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