You can now stream and download the first episode of my brand new politics podcast, What The Actual F*** Is Going On With This Whole Politics Business? from your favourite podcast provider.
I miss being bankrupted by my local cinema for a small popcorn and a milkshake. I miss being alone in the dark, as monsters make chaos on the screen before my eyes, while I imagine an arm around my shoulder and a kiss upon my cheek. I miss being kissed. Kissed by him specifically. The way he pulls away when it is over, but pulls me back closer, as if it will never end. It did end, and now I wait, with great impatience for it to begin again.
More and more of them get infected all the time, spreading it around, building it up like the walls of a prison, and it won’t stop. It never stops. I never stop pointing the finger at the public, because the government has guided me in that direction. It’s definitely not government incompetence, the greed of employers who don’t actually need staff in but insist on it anyway, or the failings of a money first, people last society. No. It’s the people who are wrong. It’s the poor, the worker bees, wings flapping around me, arranging in formation like bars. The Health Secretary, who is often wrong, is definitely not wrong about this. There’s no way out, because every time I get close to the door, it moves, slinking away like a snake, and then I can’t breathe, because the walls are so high, and so devoid of light.
I hate this cold and cruel imitation of life. I know it has to happen, I see endless death and sickness in the late afternoon, every day, and I know, but it doesn’t help. Maybe I’m selfish? But so is everyone else, and I still do as I’m told, so maybe it’s okay if I’m selfish, as long as it stays inside my head? It could be worse. I could see more than the statistics. I could see the end of life, in the flesh. The endless endings that haunt hospital corridors, broken staff who do all they can, but still feel so many numbers, that are in fact real, living, breathing humans slip through their hands. It could be worse. I know it could be worse. I am the worst.
I am a selfish girl. I always knew I was, because I always saw the world through my own lens, with my own inner monologue as the omnipotent (and kind of sultry) voice of God. I am locked up, but I am lucky, because I’m not dead and I’m not sick, and I know that currently, everyone I know is fine too, but I’m losing my mind because I’m locked away and I just want to be… somewhere else.
I just want to be someone else, and fuck, I’m scared that telling the truth is a one way ticket to being sectioned, because there’s no in between in this country, when it comes to that kind of thing. It’s okay not to be okay, but if you say you’re not okay, your family can have you locked away, and I’m already locked away, so I’d rather not be put in more padlocks, because of the lack of nuance by the National Health Service. Talk about your mental health! But not too loudly, or some overworked counsellor that it took you months to get an appointment with might get the wrong idea and tell your doctor that you’re in danger, then it’s off to the madhouse with you, because just needing a break makes you mad, these days. Needing to see the sun with somebody special makes you mad these days. Being despondent after a decade of austerity makes you mad these days. Being tired of simply existing makes you mad these days.
His face is full of lines.
He says a line,
as he frowns, down towards the podium.
His voice, meek and mousy
“I am deeply sorry.”
Not sorry enough to have brushed his hair,
because the cringe dad brand comes before all else.
Not sorry enough to have halted the brakes on the big summer of spending,
or the repeat of it during the winter.
Not sorry enough to have held up his hands days before,
“Enough is enough.”
One hundred thousand is enough,
but ninety nine thousand wasn’t,
One is enough for most people.
One voice that fades a little more each day.
One smile that they pray they’ll never forget.
One part of their heart that is now just a memory, and a grave they visit every now and again (lockdown rules permitting).
One person, that they loved, who is gone.
One person, that they loved, who can’t return, even if the prime minister is deeply sorry.
She left a potential death sentence on the fridge,
my eyes roll,
relaxing into a coffin,
because I won’t sleep for the rest of the night,
when I am gnawed at by anxiety,
over what all this vagueness means,
what if I die?
What if she’s left the death on the towels in the bathroom,
or the pile of washing up that waits on the side for me,
from her dinner last night.
Is it a death sentence?
She tells us all to stay away,
but I can’t tell if she means she is a viral villain,
drowning in the death,
that flies all over the world,
or if she means that she just means that she’s in a mood,
not in the mood to see anyone,
so wants to socially distance,
in a small house,
where we live on top of each other.
Every couple of weeks,
she sits in her Oval Office,
playing final games of football,
while we wait,
alarms aching in the air,
Nobody knows why.
I’ve never known,
when we went from friends,
to cruel child with a magnifying glass and an ant,
when I went from Switzerland to Poland,
and I suppose I never will,
because there are never facts to be found,
or a way to unwind mystery,
in vague four word notes on the fridge,
that could mean anything at all.
My eyes are staring back at me,
inquisitive and destined for exploration.
They want an explanation,
help with homework,
because a hellish phase of my life has now become history,
and I am a book,
as well as a chef,
so as I make dinner,
I don’t deny my curious companion the answers.
The water simmers softly around the pasta,
a tiny hand,
that was once much smaller,
shyly pulls on my dress.
“What was the war on COVID like?”
Of course, it becomes a war,
because Britain cannot face its past,
My eyes meet mine again,
wide and wondering,
as I continue a lecture I still don’t feel qualified to deliver.
“I went walking in the park every day.”
He wants more.
“Your uncle made a lot of cakes.”
“Grandma got a dog.”
I don’t tell him that I went to the park,
just to weep for what I was losing,
months at a time,
just wandering in the darkness,
waiting for relief that would never come.
I don’t tell him that the cakes came to pass,
because his uncle found me,
tear stained in the bathroom,
and he thought that filling my mouth with sweet treats,
would stop me saying I couldn’t stand life any longer.
I don’t tell him that grandma got a dog,
because she was locked away,
for far too long,
and she needed noise,
some warmth inside the quiet walls she called home.
I tell him about the singalongs,
weekly wailing applause,
work from home sleep ins,
fighting back giggle fits,
when my first Covid test made my nose ticklish,
and the absurd exhilaration that his uncle and I felt,
when McDonalds was finally back on Ubereats.
I gently tell him of the loss,
how I was lucky to keep hold of each piece of my heart,
I let him imagine some of the drama,
so he can think of me as a hero,
but I never really tell him about lost,
sleepless and never ending,
hospitals that became hell,
every night on the news,
pleading with the windows that stood between hearts to disappear,
how he was lucky to keep hold of his ability to exist,
because I almost lost mine.