Imagining Lockdown in Fiction, by Deborah Jenkins
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.
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.
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,
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!
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...
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