You were never lovelier

I’ve lost track of the weeks, let alone the days.

Is it three weeks or four? I don’t know, I’m completely befuddled.

The Sound of Music Through The Square Window continues every day with more and more requests coming from villagers now that we have a massive set of speakers in my spare bedroom.

I was on local radio talking about it yesterday. The WhatsApp call dropped out only once, which is not bad if you compare it to some of the interviews on Radio 4’s Today programme at the moment. Their best fail ever was yesterday when an interviewee started talking about the importance of mindful pauses only to be closely followed by a mindful pause. We thought it was part of his witty delivery but actually the technology wasn’t working.

You can hear me talking about the village’s one o’clock request show here, at about 1:13:09.

The telly is now very interested in featuring us, so I’ll keep you posted. I’ll probably end up on the cutting room floor like my late uncle, the Somerset folk singer George Withers, did in the British historical drama, Comrades, about the Tolpuddle Martyrs. Apparently, all you could see were the tops of his shears cutting the hedge.

Today I went for a long walk up the hill to enjoy the bluebells before anyone else was up, which was just as well because eighteen never-seen-before people were spotted walking along the lane towards it in the space of fifteen minutes this afternoon.

I’ve never seen so many people I don’t know walking through this village. Are they hikers from neighbouring communities or second-home owners who’ve moved down just before Easter when they shouldn’t have?

It still sticks in the craw when we’re all staying away from family and friends down here and abiding by the rules. A local village for local people.

Still, rather than getting angry, I’m trying to be creative. I’ve painted three three lots of furniture and gardened for England but to say the words of my novel are floating in stagnant waters would be an understatement. The muse seems to have fluttered off somewhere else, despite me allocating two hours a day for the task. I’m doing an online masters degree in creative writing but all that’s doing currently is filling me with self-doubt. I know I’m not rubbish at writing but it sure feels like it.

I’ve removed myself from ranter and banter groups on social media because I’m fed up with the rude and ignorant idiots who seem to populate these sites more than ever at the moment.

And I’ve stopped watching the news at ten o’clock to try to put a stop to the nightmares I’ve been having. I’m lucky in never having had a problem sleeping before now but I am currently waking up every morning at about four o’clock in a cold sweat after dreaming about dead people.

Yesterday I learned that a GP with whom I once worked – a man the same age as me who was well-loved by his patients – has just died from the virus.

This bloody thing is a real and present danger. The NHS and other key workers are risking their lives every day to keep us safe. All we have to do is stay at home.

In other news, one grandchild has learned to ride a bike and another is sleeping in a proper bed at last, so I’m thankful for small mercies.

I will leave you with today’s song request, which I dedicate to myself because I love its upbeat message and I particularly like the video.

It’s Fred Astaire and Rita Hayworth in the 1942 film You Were Never Lovelier.

Hold that thought.

That’s about it.

Love Maddie x

You are Number Six

I’m sitting up in the spare bedroom, plugging in the laptop and Bose speaker. The village square is eerily quiet.

I put the speaker on the window sill, press the ‘play’ button on the laptop and the prelude to The Sound of Music begins its slow rise into Julie Andrews’ singing at the top of her gorgeous voice the hills are alive…

It’s the Square’s call to arms. The One O’Clock Music Slot is on its way.

Bellows’ wife cycles by on her way from the village shop and gives a cheery wave to Mrs Bancroft across the road, who has jemmied open her Juliet balcony to listen to the music in the warmth of her own home rather than the doorstep.

And then there’s Gracie, the pride of our alley, walking to the shop and wondering what all the fuss is about.

Through the magic of Spotify, Julie Andrews does her bit and then it’s Elton John’s turn, belting out I’m Still Standing for the benefit of Randy Munchkin, who probably can only just about hear it down the street.

DJ Landlord climbs on the cellar roof and gives a long distance thumbs-up while Mrs Plum emerges from the closed-up pub to sit on the seat outside.

Mata Hari emerges from her front door and begins to dance to the music.

The scene is uncannily like something from that 1960s TV classic, The Prisoner, with me alternating between the bewildered Number Six and the sinister Number Two, while Lush Places doubles up as Portmeirion minus the Italianate architecture, a propped-up penny farthing and psychedelic hydrangeas.

I wouldn’t be at all surprised if any minute now a large white bubble floated up the high street to keep us all in check.

Absolutely anything could happen. It’s all bonkers.

It’s the strangest thing, this virus, this lockdown. I keeping thinking it’s all a dream and I’m going to wake up, go to the bathroom and find Bobby Ewing in the shower. Which would be kind of awkward, to be honest. I barely know the man.

Ludicrous conspiracy theories abound on social media about how it all began and why – although no-one has suggested it could just be a massive April Fool’s joke or a drill to see how easy it is to keep the masses in their place.

The number of cases is soaring, and even the Prime Minister has it.

Wall-to-wall news about coronavirus increases anxiety levels. I don’t know about you, but I go to sleep thinking about it. I’ve started dabbing lavender oil on my forehead and temples in a bid to stop my dreams becoming re-runs of science fiction disaster films like The Day After Tomorrow.

Although I do have a notepad and pen beside my bed in case a gripping plot emerges for a bestseller. The trouble is, we’re already in it.

Each morning, before I’m fully awake, there is now a split-second where daylight comes in and all seems normal. And then I remember the reality and a feeling of nausea wells deep inside me and threatens to engulf my soul.

Thank goodness for the sunshine and the great outdoors of Lush Places. At least that blue sky and nature going about its normal business is giving us hope.

That’s about it – and, as they used to say in The Prisoner, be seeing you.

Keep smiling.

Love Maddie x