Another brick in the wall

I’m seething this morning at the news that Dominic Cummings, the PM’s trusted adviser, revered and despised by politicians in equal measure, is arrogantly unrepentant at breaking the lockdown rules. His acolytes in the cabinet continue to defend him.

Each time one of them opens their mouths they seem to dig a deeper and deeper hole, as if preparing for a post to support the metaphorical fence going up between them and the rest of us.

It’s a disgrace and it all stinks.

That’s all I’m going to say . There’s no point getting angry when it’s something I can’t do anything about. People like that always come up smelling of roses. Although I might write to my MP to complain, not that it’ll make much difference.

Stop it, I need to be positive and not sink into a negative swirl of cynicism. Illegitimati non carborundum and all that. Beat to your own drum and do the best you can. And most of all, be kind.

I’d made a pact with myself not to listen to the news and government briefings or get drawn into Facebook rants and conspiracy theories during lockdown. Life is too short to knowingly subject yourself to anything that triggers poor mental health.

Enjoy nature, enjoy the sunshine, enjoy video chats with your family or socially distant conversations with friends over the garden fence or through the window.

Mind you, even my granddaughters have gone feral, refusing to pose for a picture unless wearing a mask.

In other news, it’s bank holiday weekend and the sun is smiling down on us. This means that thousands of people have been heading for the Dorset coast to get up close and personal and then complain that nothing is open. Or whinge on social media that they’re never coming back because the locals are so rude to them on Facebook when they are the goose that lays the golden eggs.

For goodness sake, go home. We don’t want you or your eggs here yet.

That’s about it.

Love Maddie x

A legend in my own lunchtime

It sometimes feels like I’m at the centre of a feel-good comedy written by Richard Curtis.

‘That song you played yesterday,’ Mickey Murphy said to me this morning as he walked up from the community shop and I was walking the dogs. ‘My wife thought it was for her.’

‘Not Doris Day’s Deadwood Stage?’

‘No, not that one. The Power of Love by Jennifer Rush.’

It had been Mr Loggins’ choice. But, apparently, when Mickey’s wife asked the question with a doe-eyed look on her face, he claimed this belting power ballad as his own. It’s not to my taste but his wife was delighted. Little does she know he’s really asked for Will You by Hazel O’Connor.

Nothing to do with the words. He says he just loves the saxophone solo.

In another comedy moment, I had a message via Facebook from the late Prince Buster’s son in the United States, asking me to write about him and his music. I’m not sure my readers are quite ready for that.

‘Who’s Prince Buster?’ Mr Grigg asked.

With a look that could wither an arm at fifty paces, I informed him that Prince Buster was to ska what Bob Marley was to reggae and Buddy Holly to rock and roll.

‘Maybe you can get him to come and play at the village hall,’ someone else suggested. Who knows? Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Like Prince Buster’s son is ever going to come over from America to do a gig in the hidden Dorset hinterland.

Still, it could happen. As readers of my People’s Friend column will know, it’s surreal here in Lush Places at the best of times. But now, at the worst of times, it’s got even weirder. It was only a few weeks ago I was chased by a large blue ball reminiscent of Rover from The Prisoner.

My feeling of oddness is accentuated by my daily retreat into the spare bedroom every lunchtime to set up the playlist, speakers and mixing desk for The Sound of Music Through The Square Window.

‘You’re famous,’ someone commented. ‘A legend in your own lunchtime.’

Slave To The Rhythm has just come on 6 Music as I write this, which seems rather appropriate.

‘Let’s go and see your mum,’ Mr Grigg said last week.

‘Well, it’ll have to be after one o’clock,’ I replied.

‘Ah yes, how could I forget?’

There have been days since 26 March, when I started playing requests from the window overlooking the village square, where I could have quite easily have assaulted Julie Andrews if I’d seen her running down the street, arms outstretched, singing that song.

I mean, I could have chosen Count Basie’s One O’Clock Jump as the theme tune to my daily music slot.

Still, after two months of playing the same song over and over again, anyone would get mighty sick of it. Although I don’t think I’d have ever got sick of Count Basie and His Orchestra.

I’m sorry to say I’ve gone through a period where Julie Andrews has just a little bit slightly got on my nerves.

But then, as I come down the slopes of Dorset’s highest hill each morning and start singing ‘the hills are alive’, well, like Baby Bear’s porridge, the words seem just right.

My heart is never lonely when I go up into the hills. There is something about the climb to reach the top where you’re rewarded with a beautiful, detached view before the glorious descent.

Who wouldn’t break out into that song running down these fields?

And now Talk Talk’s Life’s What You Make It has just come on the radio, and it’s a maxim that, on the whole, I tend to agree with.

Having previously said I’m going to close the window on the one o’clock music slot on 31 May, I’ve decided to extend it by a week to what would have been our village fun weekend. I’ve so many songs still to get through that the finale will be on Sunday 7 June, which I’ve discovered is the vicar’s birthday.

The big community party won’t be for sometime as none of us wants to get anywhere near each other. But I’m looking forward to some socially distant dancing in windows, doorways, pavements and the village green, with perhaps a few comedy moments thrown in for good measure.

That’s about it.

Love Maddie x

If the shoe fits, wear it.

Everyone’s lockdown is different. One size doesn’t fit all.

My lockdown is not dissimilar to the life I lead under normal circumstances, except I take the dogs out only once a day rather than twice and I’m now playing a song out of my window every day at one o’clock.

To be honest, I think the danger for me if this goes on for months and months is that I’ll become even more antisocial than usual, shutting myself away in the Shed of Dreams or hiding in among the beech trees on Bluebell Hill at dawn.

The Grigg side of the family has a history of reclusiveness. I have hermit relatives who live in ramshackle buildings in the corners of a field. My big sister lives up a lane in the middle of nowhere.

So living in the heart of a sociable village is actually quite a big deal for this extroverted introvert. At the best of times, I freeze when the doorbell goes because I’m going to have to open it and speak to someone. Now, it completely freaks me out.

I always make Mr Grigg answer the telephone because, like my late father, I don’t like speaking into it. Mind you, it’s always for my husband in any case, especially at the moment what with his bigamist marriage with the community shop.

I’m trying to be productive during the lockdown because I have the time to do it and I don’t have children at home or a heavy workload to deal with. In the main, I’ve been successful but I definitely been having more off days than I thought I would.

My remedy is to get out with the dogs before seven-thirty each day, change out of my slippers by nine o’clock and putting on something else more interesting.

The current look is Star Wars T-shirts, my trusty Levi’s and a pair of shiny or sparkly shoes.

I read today that sales of lipstick may never recover after women have gone bare-face for so long. But not me. The lipstick is staying, as are the shoes.

Happy weekend everyone.

That’s about it.

Love Maddie x

Carry on screaming

It’s one of those days already.

I’m on the phone to my bank again, and, after pressing all the buttons and then a hashtag over and over again, I’m told by an automated voice that my call will be answered by an operator in approximately ten minutes.

It’s on loudspeaker as I type this at the dining room table. The jaunty music is getting on my nerves. The good thing is that I am moving further in the queue.

It’s times like these when my inner Victor Meldrew kicks in.

Although I’m feeling guilty because at the beginning of the call, the deadpan, North Country voice (I’m with the Co-op) announced that I should only phone if absolutely necessary because they’re overwhelmed by coronavirus and if I have access to my account digitally I should do that and stop bothering them.

Those weren’t her exact words but that was the gist.

Trouble is, I would if I could but I can’t. The online system won’t recognise my user name. Maybe I’ve forgotten it? I haven’t forgotten it. I’ve already followed the appropriate prompts to have my user name emailed to me just in case it had slipped my mind. Nope, it’s the bloody one I’ve been using for the last fifteen years.

Four weeks ago, I set up a savings account with the same bank but, stupidly, the bank left off one of my initials and now it won’t marry up with my current account online. And now I can’t get into the bloody current account in any case.

I’m not usually one for swearing but this morning I sound like Hugh Grant at the beginning to Four Weddings and A Funeral.

During my wait, Mr Grigg nuzzles up to me, having spent more than two hours on community shop business, and says, ‘I love you baby’. They say you hit out at the ones closest to you, which is exactly what I do by telling him less than politely to go away.

It’s not fair and he huffs off in a storm of righteous indignation. But at this point in time, all I want is for the problem to be solved without endless bloody phone calls and waiting in a queue. I want my bank to employ some joined-up thinking because the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing, but that could be because they’re immersed in hand sanitiser.

The morning started badly in any case. I discovered on my daily dog walk that my favourite tree of all time in the village has died. All those hundreds of years of growing only to die before the spring. And then I saw a flattened grass snake in the lane, which had shuffled off its mortal coil.

And, of course, the thing uppermost on everyone’s mind is that the world’s been hit by a global pandemic.

And now, I’m finally through to a very nice man at the bank who tells me computer says no.

There appears to be no user name registered with the bank account, the one I’ve been using for the past fifteen years.

I actually mutter ‘FFS’ in full before he puts me on hold again with that bloody music and then comes back on to tell me there’s an IT problem which probably won’t be resolved until next Monday.

I explode – not at him but at the bank whose staff and computer system have decided to self-isolate from each other.

I thank him for not being able to help me. He thanks me for my patience, I put the phone down and scream very loudly before putting this on at full volume.

That’s about it.

Love Maddie x