Imagining Lockdown in Fiction, by Deborah Jenkins


Probably my favourite book ever. I vividly remember this wonderful adaptation by the BBC back in 1979, with Joanna David. Interestingly enough, her daughter, Emilia Fox, played the role in the 1997 version. I have tried for many years to get hold of the 1979 version, without success.

This post was inspired by a snippet from a newspaper sent to me by my daughter in law, about how nursery rhyme characters were coping in Lockdown. It got me thinking about how characters from literature might have behaved too. Here are the results: -

Dear Mrs de Winter,

I apologise that I am unable to have our daily meeting this morning concerning the menus for the day. I have been feeling unwell.

In order to follow the guidelines and to keep you safe, I am isolating in my room until further notice.
I trust you are able to manage without me. I know Rebecca would have. She was so wonderful at running Manderley - a real lady - and much loved by all. I am sure you will find your own way.

I trust you and the master were able to find your clean face towels last night. The maid was off so I carried them up myself. Yours were so soft and warm from being freshly laundered, I could not help sinking my face into them, searching for Rebecca's smell which I miss so much - that heady combination of blossom and Chanel which drifted wherever she went. Of course, I couldn't smell it.

Anyway, I hope you keep well and I will let the butler know when I expect to resume my duties.

Mrs. Danvers



Dear Peter,

As you know I've popped out to the baker's and won't be long. I know perfectly well what you're about to do which is why I've pinned this note to the door.

I have three things to say to you:

1) Mr Macgregor could have Covid
2) You cannot guarantee social distancing while being chased
3) It will be difficult scoffing vegetables wearing a face mask

So my advice is: - put on your face mask and go blackberrying with the triplets instead.
That way you'll have a nicer supper.

Love
Mum xx




Dear Miss Bates,

I hope the day finds you well and that our man-servant arrives promptly with this communication. I find myself unable to sleep since we happened upon each other earlier in the week. I am so very remorseful. I did not mean to imply at all that you WERE Covid positive, just that grasping my arm in so friendly a way, was perhaps...ill advised.

The home-sewn face masks you delivered to the house yesterday, along with details of the pattern dear Jane devised, used and has sent to everyone in Highbury, were gratefully received. They are excessively diverting. Please do not apologise for the reused curtain material. I shall derive much pleasure from sporting the sprigged muslin and dear Papa favours the damask, although he cannot wear it for long periods of time owing to restricted breathing. We remain, however, grateful for your kindness.

Please accept our best wishes to you and to your mother.

Yours, with affection,

Emma


Dear Aunt Lucy,

London is very different to how you described it. It's warmer, all the taxis are empty and there are more birds than people. I think it's all something to do with Sharona 19 which used to be a song on the radio (called My Sharona) but is now a deadly disease.

Mr Brown is very twitchy these days and won't let anyone leave the house, even to buy marmalade. When I sneezed all over his home-schooling plan, he went beserk and made me lock it in my suitcase for 3 days, until the germs are dead. Judy and Jonathon are very happy because without his schooling plan, Mr Brown is helpless. They have a little holiday.

Mrs. Bird has been making sticky gingerbread and delivering it to all the houses in Windsor Gardens, dressed like a cyberman. She said not to tell Mr Brown. Every time she gets home, I take her disposable face mask out of the bin for my collection. I've got 54 now.
I don't think I'll mention that to Mr Brown either.

Please come and see me soon, Aunt Lucy. I miss you!

Love
Paddington xxx



Dear Winnie-the-Pooh,

Well, this just shows I was right all along. The world was always going to end, it was just a matter of how it would happen. This is the how.

I miss hunting for thistles. You're kind to deliver them but they don't taste the same indoors. Shielding is no fun for donkeys ( hope you wore gloves when picking them).

I don't think our leaders know what they're doing. They have no brains at all, only grey fluff that's blown into their heads by mistake.
They should try living in a house made of sticks with nothing but an empty honey jar for keeping things in. Except, at the moment, there's nothing to keep, because of The Cost of Living. I need to retrain as a nurse or a care worker. This is not achievable for a donkey without any learning.

Well, I will sign off now. Christoper Robin wrote this for me, not because I couldn't have, but because I'm too busy writing poetry. Here's one I wrote yesterday: -

I used to think the world was bad
And all my friends were stupid
Everything used to make me sad
But then along came Covid.
I actually quite like you all now...

Love from

eoR xx

Click here to see the novella on amazon
Deborah Jenkins is a primary school teacher and freelance writer who has written articles, text books, devotional notes and short stories. She writes regularly for the tes. She has also completed a novella, The Evenness of Things, available as an Amazon e-book and has just finished a full length novel. Deborah loves hats, trees and small children. After years overseas with her family, who are now grown up, she lives in Sussex with her husband, a Baptist minister, and a cat called Oliver


























Comments

  1. This is possibly the best blog post I have ever read. Without exception. Thank you for making me laugh so early on a Thursday morning

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  2. Oh Wendy! What a truly lovely thing to say!! Thank you for reading and posting such a lovely comment ❤️

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  3. Brilliant! Very, very funny. My favourite is Paddington's - 'dressed like a cyberman' really made me laugh. You should do more of these! A Twitter thread?

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    1. I've posted it on twitter. You might have to explain to me how a twitter thread works! Thanks, Mrs. H. When you say something is very, very funny, I am truly made up!!

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  4. Mrs Danvers was spot on 👌

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  5. Thank you for making day. A brilliant piece of writing.

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    1. Thanks so much Angela. I'm so pleased you liked it.

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  6. Deborah this is absolutely fantastic! Thank you. It really brought a smile to my face this morning.

    It inspired me to write one for the collection:

    Dear fellow members of the Reform club,

    I write to request an extension to the agreed 80 day conditions of our wager. I do not consider it contrary to the conduct of a gentleman to entreat you for such a deferment, allowing for the present restrictions on international travel which have necessitated my continuing voyage around the world be postponed indefinitely until such a time as ongoing travel may be effectively resumed.

    I remain in excellent health however, and consider it the most superlative good fortune that I should find myself residing in New Zealand at this time, albeit in a temporary state of residence. I do not find myself to be in the slightest inconvenienced despite these circumstances which have regrettably obliged my faithful man servant Passepartout to be placed on furlough. I am resolved that this slight delay should not irrevocably importune the completion of my circumnavigation.

    I remain faithfully yours,

    Mr Phileas Fogg Esq.

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    1. I chortled most heartily at this, Peter!

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    2. Fabulous! Love it Peter!! Really made me LOL. Have you thought of joining our group? I know you're a writer and a good one too :)

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  7. This is brilliant and so funny! A perfect literary lockdown post. Every one of them exactly captured the style and mindset and language of the originals on which they were based. I loved Eeyore and his signature.

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    1. Thanks a lot SC! I was actually feeling quite Eeyorish yesterday when I wrote it, which probably helped. Glad you liked it. I certainly had a lot of fun writing it .

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  8. This is absolutely the funniest thing I have read for ages! The range of literary texts used was masterly. I particularly liked the image of Mr Woodhouse struggling to breathe in a damask mask. "Emma, my dear, if you could pass me my gruel I shall attempt to drink it through the mask which excellent Miss Bates has sent up to Hartfield." The perfect blog. I want everyone in the whole world to read it! I have got exactly that edition of "Rebecca" and loved that version. Superb. Thank you.

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    1. Ah, thanks so much Ruth :) Yes, Rebecca is the best isn't it? Haha. Love your vision of Mr Woodhouse trying to eat in his mask. Such fun!! Thanks for commenting. I loved writing this post, so people's positive reactions are a bonus :)

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  9. This made me laugh, thank you! So good. A welcome break from proofreading. Thank you!

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    1. You are most welcome BarbieJ. Thanks for reading! All the best with the proofreading.

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  10. Really good, Deborah! (And I just found your comment on my blog. Thank you.)

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  11. Your so welcome, Susan. Glad you enjoyed it 🙂

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  12. This was wonderful, Deborah! A few went over my head as I haven't read the books, but Paddington and Eeyore were absolutely wonderful. I did find it quite moving when Paddington said how much he misses Aunt Lucy.

    Lovely, clever and just what we need right now :)

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  13. Ah thanks so much Martin. Much appreciated 🙂

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  14. I have laughed and laughed! This is one of my favourite posts of all time!! Paddington is my absolutely favourite (I have a soft spot for that darling bear) but I lived them all! Thank you, Debs Xxxxx

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    1. Haha! I'm so glad to have brought pleasure 😊 Thanks a lot, Nikki!

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