‘Up we get, thats the way, big stretch.’
‘Now, make your bed and I think we’ll wash your hair today.’
And in case you’re wondering, no, I haven’t suddenly taken up a position in a nursing home or found a lover in the form of an old age pensioner. Rather, this is what has become of me in these COVID19 times.
I talk to myself, more than ever.
Once I’m up and I’ve made the bed (with a pat on the back) I make my way into the shower. BBC Radio 3 has me humming along to the glorious tunes of the proms, before I find a suitable outfit for the day – one that will be comfortable for the commute around the flat and maybe even for a little ‘treat trip’ to the pharmacy or the barcal.
Both the pharmacies and the barcals (these are tiny little shops stacked full of canned tuna, olive oil, loo roll, chocolates, milk and more) are my lifeline now. Some even have wine. These are my favourites, and there are two within my block.
Just over a month ago, we were sitting around the dining room table at a house here in Tangier. ‘I mean, its like a wet market and the people in the area are catching this virus.’
‘No,’ came a response, ‘I think they actually eat bats.’
‘Oh dont be so AWFUL,’ came a cry from the end of the table (in the same moment I snuck in another spoon of delicious pasta), ‘no one would eat a bat!’
The conversation rattled on around that table in Tangier – a long way from Wuhan. At the end of dinner, we hugged and kissed each other goodnight before jumping into taxi’s, we were full of pasta and completely unaware that nights like these were soon to be something of a dream. A distant memory.
Once I’m dressed for the day, I make my way into the kitchen and turn on the iPad, desperate for news and updates. Where are we today?
Actually. What day is it?
Morocco was quick and incredibly efficient when it came to dealing with this virus. Borders shut down over a 12 hour period and cafes, restaurants and all non essential services (wine?) quickly followed. There was no panic buying, no shortage of loo roll and all schools, mosques, hammams, gyms, public spaces – EVERYTHING shutdown and everyone quickly had to adapt.
Each morning as I tune into the BBC and load the coffee pot onto an open flame, I listen as the numbers in Italy and Spain become more and more desperate and prolific.
First it was China and then it was cruise ships. The spread seemed so far away from all of us and we all went about life as normal.
Fast forward two months; here in Tangier, taxi drivers are out of work, servers in cafes are out of work, families in the medina are living together every hour of every day. Our normal has become utterly abnormal. We too, are in a paranoid lockdown a long way from where it all began. The roll on is prolific, but here we don’t panic buy and loo roll is freely available.
‘ Surely you’ll go home’ they all said.
‘Home?’ I asked, only the slightest bit perplexed.
Shall I travel to Marrakech on the train and wait in a queue at the airport for days, praying that I might miraculously find a seat on a flight? That’s five hours on the train potentially infected, five or more hours in a queue potentially infected, and then 28 hours in the sky (including a stopover) before arriving home to fourteen days of isolation.
But, I’ll be home. Potentially infected and in quarantine with both parents (aged 65+) and my precious nephews and their families – all doing their bit to be safe and healthy in these times.
No, I’ll stay here thanks. Let’s contain this bugger.
Every morning I find myself in my kitchen with my cafeteria warming up on the stove as I dream of my beloved Italy, whilst more casualties from within her borders are reported on the BBC.
I found Italy as a nineteen year old and returned more seriously as a twenty something year old. Tuscany called, and for summer upon summer I worked alongside my dear friend Charlotte who grows the most delicious grapes which are turned into headache free wine. Her home, Potentino, is a haven built on Etruscan ruins and as my coffee spatters from the cafeteria each morning, I think to myself ‘why them?’.
I don’t have the same love for Spain (all that lisping when they speak), but I also wonder (during the same news report) why them, too?
Last night I arrived home following a quick trip to the shops. As I stepped into the lift, I was taken straight back to my life in Paris where I sprayed Dyptique ‘Orange Blossom’ throughout the flat each night and each morning. ‘Hmmmm,’ I thought to myself, ‘maybe someone nice has come to visit’ as orange blossom filled my nose and the lift clunked up to my floor.
I was greeted by Twinkle Toes decked out in a black muscle t-shirt with a sequinned skull adorning its front. He was wearing a dust mask whilst folding my socks, a latex glove on each hand. When he heard the door open, he immediately attacked me with antiseptic spray.
Not even my keys were spared.
Squinting and with stinging eyes (some antiseptic actually went right into my tear ducts), I was quick to ask Twinkle why my lift smelt like my Paris apartment.
‘Listen to me,’ he began, as he always does ‘you need to understand what is this virus. It is only dead with alcohol.’
‘ You have no understanding of this. The only way I will kill the virus in this building is to use your product from France, it has alcohol. This is serious, you know…’
The next day I went out and bought him a spray containing ethanol, a rare commodity in a Muslim country. But to be fair, the lift and the entire building did smell delicious.
Twinkle is using every possible measure to keep me and all in sundry safe. As expensive as it may be.
We can all play our part. Whatever that may be.
For now, stay inside and keep washing your hands.
Twinkle said so.
Pictured: my favourite Berbèr carpet fresh in from the dry cleaners tonight.