Lockdown Blog 6: Och Aye

Hi! Or, as they say where I am (not that I’ve been close enough to anyone that they could say it), ‘Hou’r ye’?. I’m in Perthshire, Scotland, which for those of you who are sadly unfamiliar with this beautiful country, is roughly in the middle of it, just above Edinburgh. I’m staying up here with Ellie and her family in their home until everything blows over. The house is dutifully divided into three separate isolation zones of people of roughly-equal infection. There is blue zone (confirmed uninfected – I am one occupant), red zone (recently been in London, but no symptoms), and a newly-created black zone (recent arrivals, have had contact with confirmed case. Lord knows how many people are in there, I’ve not been close enough to check).

Every meal, cup of tea, and slice of procrastinatory cake (ordered via WhatsApp), has to be taken by a blue zone occupant to the relevant ‘drop point’, where it is left to be collected by the red- or black- zone occupant who requested it. After consumption is confirmed, the plate/cup/silverware is put back in the drop zone and then collected by a blue zone occupant wearing a pair of fetching gloves. It’s quite the routine.

The black zone drop point

It’s just struck me that all of the above will read very strangely to someone looking back at this in years to come; I’ve not mentioned why on earth we’d be isolated, or what we’d be infected with, or why gloves might be necessary — perhaps I should. But anyone with enough free time to be reading archived King’s Singers blogs in years to come frankly also has enough free time to look up what on earth happened in 2020.

Much talk amongst my colleagues and friends is of ‘silver linings’ in the present situation – new opportunities now time is on our side. With the world temporarily freed from the workplace’s busy daily routine and competitiveness, everyone has seemingly now found enough hobbies to become busy with an entirely new daily regime, and enough time to post online about how great it is. Well, here I am, online, and I’ve been busy …digging.

Ellie’s folks have plenty of outside space at their place, and some of it is devoted to vegetables. I suspect that, in these dark times of kicking grannies in the shins to get the last can of chopped tomatoes, every vegetable patch has probably gone up in value 20-fold, so I spent an enjoyable Sunday helping Ellie’s father dig up some languishing vegetables from the last harvest, de-weed & turn the soil, and plant the first batch of stuff for this Spring. One thing we shan’t be short of in this house is potatoes. Please send your best recipes this way – things like baked potato, with a side of fries, to be served on a plate made of potato, eaten with potato cutlery.

Pat digging trenches in which to plant 2020’s potatoes

In next week’s blog I’ll be asking for your egg-based recipes, as we’ve just ordered 6 chickens. As I type, there is a chicken run being constructed just outside for them. Our local supermarket duty manager can certainly sleep easy when it comes to our demand for eggs and potatoes. Give them all to the grannies.

It’s not all been digging. To Ellie’s dismay, I’ve been (obsessively) learning a new piano piece: Chopin’s ‘Raindrop’ Prelude. I’ve learned it sufficiently well that I may even post a clip of me playing it on our social media channels at some point (See! More online gloating over new hobbies). I saw the lovely video Jules made of he and Victoria playing some Elgar, and I was inspired: so keep your eyes peeled. And your potatoes.


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