Lockdown Letters: Part 3

My family live a few hundred miles away. I don’t know if the distance has made it more obvious, or if it’s just time, but it’s clear now that my Dad and brother are becoming one person.

While the rest of the world is trying their hand at bread, possibly even a Victoria Sponge, my brother has gone all in on homemade kimchi. So spare a thought for my sister in law. Not only in lockdown with a house full of boys (my brother included), but one of them is fermenting whatever he can get his hands on and declaring himself the most cultured man in Norfolk. To be fair, that might actually make him the most cultured man in Norfolk. See Lockdown Letters: Part 1 for details on my Dad preparing himself for the apocalypse by pickling everything in sight.

Last year my sister in law bought him some shell fish. It’s the sort of thing he loves, and enjoys preparing himself because E.coli tastes better when it’s prepared with your own hands. The meal goes to plan, no one drops dead at the dinner table and he goes to put the boys to bed.

Thing is, he thought his relationship was at the level of telepathic communication and that his partner should therefor be aware of the pan of boiling fish shells in the kitchen needing immediate attention. Why boiling fish shells? For his kimchi, obvs. She didn’t receive that non-verbalised message and so the inevitable happened, the pan boiled over until shell and pan could no longer be distinguished. Something special happens when shell fish carcass and metal infuse. If you’re not familiar with the aroma, it has the same undertones as burnt hair, with a salty, out-of-season-seaside-town like stench that lines your inner nose and throat, and all soft furnishings in your home for 3-6 months.

But, it was his birthday so she couldn’t murder him. Plus there was no liquid ‘stock’ left to drown him in and any other form of punishment at that point would have felt meaningless. Also, the air downstairs would have made her eyes sting.

Oh, and she’d just hung a wool wash up to dry. In the kitchen.

The boys had nightmares that night.

Anyway, looks like my Dad is up to similar shenanigans in his house…

From: Me and my DDs
Sent: Wednesday, 17 January 2021
To: Dad
Subject: Re: Lockdown three, week three

Did I tell you what they did in first lockdown? I had an appraisal, during which they took a marker pen throughout three rooms, the hallway and stairs. I do not treasure that mark making. 

I went in to this one, again, naively thinking we’d save money because we’re not going out. 

The food shop: Fools. Your money is now mine.

How do such small people eat so much and so continuously? My father-in-law insists he has a main stomach and a pudding stomach. This is clearly hereditary. Luckily the cleaner can’t come so the extra food spend is pretty much recouped there. Did I mention that we’re middle class now? However, without the cleaner the house is a shit tip. This is how pandemics start. 

I now weigh more than I did after having either child. I bought a smart watch which told me I was morbidly obese so I did the rational thing and ate a tub of ice cream in depression. Turns out, I’ve been measuring myself wrong for the last 10 years and I’m 10cm taller than I thought… and… *just* within normal weight range! Celebrated with ice cream. 

From: Dad
Sent: Wednesday, 18 January 2021
To: Me and my DDs
Subject: Re: Lockdown three, week three

I’ve just acquired a ‘step-counter’. No idea if it will reveal anything of interest because it remains in quarantine for at least another week, courtesy of the in-house Medical Director.

Our food bills have also changed over the last year. My Sustenance Director goes to Brian the Butcher about once a week, and the Tesco* store every three weeks, dressed like a spaceperson. We no longer buy any prepared stuff – pies, cakes, biscuits, etc – very little bread. We make almost everything ourselves. My current favourite is soups made from home-made stock (Brian’s offcuts) + peas/lentils + boiled leaves off the allotment. The SD (above) won’t touch it and complains about the smell. So, two pleasures for the price of one. Conversely, the stuff we do buy has definitely gone up-market. Nevertheless, our household bills seem to have reduced by £2-300 per month.

*Appeared since you left here.

I’m due to get a ‘temporary’ filling on a broken tooth today. There’s a remote chance I’ll be exposed to The Plague; I’m relaxed about this, but the MD, above, is not, so I expect I’ll be minutely scrutinised over the next week for blebs, bubos, coughs, rashes, itches, sniffs, abnormal farts, poos and pees, and so on.

Dad X

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