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Time to move to Spain

Medically retired at short notice our plans to move to Spain are brought forward by a few years. With little time to spare, this is our story.

Week 4 – The lockdown continues. The ramblings of a man filling the extra time he would normally spend outside.
08 April 2020

The ramblings of a man filling the extra time he would normally spend going outside...


It’s 6 am and I’ve been awake for about an hour. I can’t ever claim ever to have been a good sleeper because I worry too much. I think it was passed down from my mum as she too was a worrier. We are well into our fourth week of restrictions, popularly known as ‘lockdown’ and the early morning bouts of insomnia are getting regular. 

The one thing being stuck in your home does, is give you time to think. The only problem is that I do nearly all of it in bed. One morning I woke up and realised I wasn’t worried about anything, so I worried about that. We all have things to worry about during this period in our lives and not just about ourselves. I find it strange that relatively unimportant things take on a bigger part in our lives when the mind takes a rest. 

I remember back in the 1980s a chap called Max Headroom had a show on TV. He represented the future – a fictional artificial character who spoke via a TV screen in between showing music videos. Who would have thought that in 2020, due to COVID-19 restrictions, that heads on screens would rapidly make a comeback as guests in TV studios? Yet this is rapidly becoming the norm during this strange time. 

Was TV really this bad before the lockdown? Do people actually watch Tipping Point with its ridiculously easy questions and arcade coin pusher? Or Judge Rinder with its steady stream of amateur ‘actors’ masquerading as contestants?  BBC1 seems to be a non-stop coronavirus channel, repeating the same messages over and over again together with Q & A programmes mainly fielding questions from people who want to bypass the current restrictions. Other such as ‘This Morning’ are encouraging people to mail-order their clothes, games and anything else to satisfy their need to shop, without a hint of thought for those working in the warehouses and involved in the delivery of such items. The rest is a mix of ‘best of’ and Dr Sarah Jarvis, who seems to have found a way to get into numerous TV studios without breaking restrictions and poor Joe Wicks and Jamie Oliver who are stuck at home with a video camera pointing at them. 

How strange that having had pretty bad weather for most of the first 3 weeks of the restrictions, the last few days of nice weather has been welcomed, despite not being able to go out and enjoy it. 

When I can’t sleep, I wonder about more obvious things such as how businesses will cope and whether my favourite bars and restaurants will ever open again. As my last job before retiring to Spain included managing protection for the victims of domestic violence my mind also wanders to how such vulnerable people manage.

People who are vulnerable in normal times are extra vulnerable at the moment. I am also aware that there are differing opinions on certain people and their vulnerability. I wonder about the ‘roundabout girls’, the people who beg at supermarkets and various other places as well as the flower sellers and others who live completely different lives to mine. I remember taking my reverse advent calendar box of essentials to the homeless charity ‘Reach out, Torrevieja’ on Christmas Eve and the reminder that despite what we think about some people, there are many worse off.

In my mind’s eye, I also take myself on a walk along the beachfront in Torrevieja and wonder, when all this has blown over, will anyone be able to purchase ‘cheap as chips’ a pair of Nike trainers or Calvin Klein underpants at such a convenient and reasonable price in the future. 

When I do eventually go back to sleep, I wake later than I normally would and therefore end up going to bed later. That means the TV is usually on and I get to sample the delights of a dating show where the contestants are all naked. I get angry because, having sat through the first half where a woman picks a man, it’s then a man picking a man. “Where are the bloody women?” I yell, as my wife sniggers away in the corner.

My one visit per week to the supermarket was today. The free newspapers have disappeared from outside and it’s the quietest it’s been since I moved here 4 years ago. Last week, in the absence of a mask, I took a neck warmer/snood to cover my mouth, mainly because most people have mouth coverings when out shopping. You don’t want to feel left out, after all. The pharmacy is around the corner but hasn’t had any for sale. It’s not a requirement but you feel you should at least make an effort however pathetic my effort seems to be. 

I fail to take into account that it’s about 20 degrees and given I originally bought the snood in the first place was to keep me warm, it reduces me to an overheated sweaty mess – after 5 minutes. Despite recent practice, I am still unable to open the plastic vegetable bags with the mandatory plastic gloves on. Being the person I am, I won’t give up and keep trying anyway. 

The rest of the shop is uneventful but notable due to the items missing last week are now available, apart from long-grain rice. Risotto it will have to be then. What am I saying? ‘Notable?’ Is this what life has come to when the presence of Heinz beans, Sauvignon blanc, tea bags and Crunchies in the supermarket is notable?

Essential items a month ago have been replaced by the new ‘first world’ essentials. Batteries, printer ink, swimming pool accessories. None of which are available in our local supermarket. I’m being very careful with glasses in case of breakages lead to a family shortage. Due to my exercise regime, on one day last week, two pairs of underpants developed holes in them. I’m quite a modern man but darning isn’t a skill I ever acquired. 

“I’m not darning bloody underpants” exclaimed my wife. 

“But there may be a shortage” I replied 

“there’s only so often you can turn the rest of them inside out” I continued.

There’s more than one way to ‘skin a cat’ I decide and the constant placing of the underpants within her reach eventually works, together with making her realise that what she is doing is recycling and saving the planet. Crisis averted. 

The rest of the week is taken up with playing my guitar and watching more TV and films. I catch the latest ‘sensation’ which is ‘Tiger King’. Which is described by Sophie Gilbert, The as:

A seven-part documentary series about a gay, polygamous zoo owner in Oklahoma who breeds tigers, commissions and stars in his own country music videos, presides over what he describes as “my little cult” of drifters and much younger men and ran for governor of Oklahoma in 2018 on a libertarian platform. 

Joe Exotic is the man in question, and I find it all morally suspect and in parts quite disturbing. With a liberal smattering of guns and bravado, he typifies the modern craving for media attention and although I’m a little shocked at the content, I’m not surprised, which in itself I find a little sad. 

As we look forward, I grasp any positivity that I can in these troubling times… 

*I have regained two pairs of underpants in the name of recycling, that I had previously written off; 

*I never thought that when I knocked on someone’s front door and ran away as a kid, the skill would be so useful at my current age;

*My Spanish is improving;

*My wife has taken up painting by numbers;

* Previously under-valued people are now valued like never before.

Keep safe everyone!

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