The Outside people

Thought I’d share this piece I wrote at virtual Holmfirth Writers Group (which now meets via Zoom) on Monday: imagining life in year 5 of lockdown and explaining things to children who have known nothing else.

The Outside People

Where are Outside people, Mummy?

They are in all sorts of places, dear, all over the world. But the ones we know are mostly in this country, in towns and cities very much like ours, living in houses quite similar to this one.

Then why are they so different from us, then?

Different? Why do you think they are different? They talk very much like we do, don’t they? And they talk about the same things we talk about. You talk to Miranda and Chelsea and Zoe almost every day, don’t you. Don’t they like the same sort of things as you?

Well, Zoe has a mouse that she likes, that I don’t like at all. But I suppose we all like drawing, and dressing up, and playing games and things.

There you go, then. And it’s the same with me and Daddy. The Outside people we like to talk to have similar interests to us, so we’ve always got something to talk about. That’s why they’re our friends. Aren’t Miranda and Chelsea and Zoe your friends too.

Oh yes, they’re my friends, but they are still different.

How are they different? Aren’t they just the same as us?

Well, you’re always telling me that I can never go Outside because it’s not safe. But my friends are Outside – that’s why I can’t be where they are. So they must be different if they can be Outside but we can’t.

No, dear, that’s not right. They are not really Outside – they are inside, in houses, just like ours, like I said. It’s just that those houses are in different places to ours, and between their houses and ours there is real Outside, where we can’t go. And our friends can’t go there either. So for them, we are Outside people too.  So do you understand now why they are not really different from us.

So … they are really Inside, but a different Inside, with Outside between their Inside and ours?

Yes, well done, you’ve got it!

But they are still different, though.

Why? In what way are they different?

Well, Inside people, here in this house, they have a smell. And they feel like something.  Look, when I touch your cheek it feels soft. But when I touch the faces of my Outside friends, they just feel hard, like plastic. And they have no smell.  And your face is round and … knobbly, but their faces are just flat. So you see, Mummy, Outside people really are different. Why is that?

[ pic (c) Dennis Hamilton 2007. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license ]

Molly in the Trolley

OK, after all the grim news we’ve been getting, I think it’s time to offer readers a little bit of fun. Hope you enjoy this light hearted verse.

Molly in the Trolley
I like to go with Daddy
when he’s walking round the shops,
and I like to talk to people
whenever Daddy stops.
I saw a pretty lady,
she was very, very fat.
I said ‘what have you been doing
to get a tum like that?’
Then Daddy got all cross with me.
His face was very red.
I couldn’t think of any bad
in anything I’d said.
So I said to the lady
‘you really mustn’t mind.
My Daddy’s got a headache
from drinking too much wine.’
Then Daddy pushed the trolley,
it was whizzing really fast.
I couldn’t say a single thing
to people zooming past.
He had to get some medicine.
I spoke to Jason’s mum.
‘My Daddy’s getting special cream,
he’s got an itchy bum.’
We took it to the checkout girl
I talked to her, of course.
‘He doesn’t have much money
cause he lost it on a horse.’
My Daddy told me off outside.
‘This chatting has to stop!
And when we’re back, don’t tell your Mum:
what happened in the shop.’
When we got home, my Mummy said
‘What have you done today?’
‘We saw a pretty lady
but Dad told me not to say.’
Then Daddy went all red again,
he didn’t say what for.
I wish I knew why he won’t
take me shopping any more. 

When the F-word is not a swear word

Thought I’d share this blog post from Martin Shaw of the Huddersfield Examiner, on lockdown and being furloughed.

Never Were Such Times

I call it the F-word. Until Coronavirus no one had ever heard of furloughing.

It’s where employees are temporarily laid off while the Government pays 80% of their wages. Yesterday it happened to me.

I got the call mid-morning and by the end of the day I was done. It could be a minimum of three weeks but it could be three months.

In my job I’d been used to working up to 12 hours a day. From full-on to zero literally overnight. What will I do with myself?

This is Day 15 of U.K. Lockdown, of course. No one to see and nowhere to go.

In fact going out is banned other than nipping out for food or one short daily exercise. There never were such times. No, really. There never were such times.

I’ve been paid to write for over three decades now. God, that makes me sound…

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