One of the few recent bright-spots has been the diverse contact with friends.
While not on social media, my ‘normal’ communication consists a barrage of short, chirpy, texting and WhatsApping.
But where once (less than a month ago – feels like a distant planet) I would think, type and ping in a matter of seconds, now it’s all about the actual voice.
As a child, we didn’t have mobiles. The only method of communication was the Bakelite telephone in the hall, having wonderfully formal little circles in which to insert a teenage index finger. I would spend all day with my best friend, walking home from school together, then immediately head for a covetous call to catch up on the intervening thirty minutes or less since our last encounter.
In those days, of course, there weren’t any phone deals or pay plans; you simply had an account with BT and held off calling anyone (anyone, really, unless in dire straits) before the dreaded 6pm deadline when business rate charges finished.
“I don’t know what on earth you find to talk about,” mum would expostulate.
Plenty, was the answer. Unbelievable how one could elaborate on the habits of the Biology Department’s pet hamster or the scandal of the sports day white lines being a little less than straight. We could chew the fat for hours.
Then mobiles arrived and conversations got shorter. Then stopped.
Like most people, I have a landline to get broadband and TV deals (in fact, do I actually need a landline at all, I have no idea). Hardly anyone ever uses the number and mum admitted recently that, despite us having been here for a decade, she is none the wiser to our number!
But the lockdown has changed all that. So far, we’re very lucky – everyday, I thank my lucky stars for all the blessings that we have – but I do miss the social interaction, however inane, craving a daily dose of meaningless chat. And so do many others, it seems. The old landline has sprung back into life because, as one friend remarked: “We have enough to worry about with coronavirus, we don’t want mobile signals penetrating the brain as well!”
I’ve heard from Greg in Arizona; tested for Covid this week and, turns out, had the virus back in January and didn’t even know. Anyway, apart from that snippet, weather’s in the high twenties and the cacti are doing well thank you.
Duncan the pilot rang to tell me that he’s no longer a pilot and is now growing apples and running a holiday home instead. There’s career diversity for you.
Jo the journalist IS still working and we enjoyed swapping stories about various food shopping exploits.
Pauline the shopkeeper rang to tell me that she is busier than ever, fast becoming the go-to person for village gossip and information.
Linda lives on a beach and, with a mutual appreciation for the wonderful author Erica James, we enjoyed an illuminating conversation about her latest epistle, ‘Notes from the past.’
Less positive was the news of a dear friend’s passing. Not Covid, no, but the other terrible C-word. During several subsequent calls, his wife described, in detail, arrangements for the private burial (only a handful allowed), including the lone piper paying his (distant) respects and the tear-inducing birdsong at the graveside. Although a difficult story to hear, tiny details and innuendos added colour and connection that would be impossible via text.
Despite the current crisis, there is much for which we must be grateful. I, along with many others, should offer a special thank you to that fine Scot, Alexander Graham Bell, who delivered a lifeline at this time of isolation when you really, really need to talk about the price of fish!
Mairi Fraser 16.4.20