My illness only lasted a couple of days.
The sore throat gave way to a mild cough and I was quickly back to full health. I was in regular contact with all my colleagues via Skype, Facetime and WhatsApp group chats, although I struggled to make the distorted image of my face that appeared on screen look any less ogre-some.
Apparently, it’s to do with the angle of the camera. Nobody I video-spoke with seemed too concerned though; they just seemed pleased to see me alive.
I kept very busy. I listened to various online webinars about guidelines for the profession to follow during the crisis, addressing questions such as whether a fertility visit to see a herd of dairy cows was more or less crucial than the final part of a puppy’s vaccination course, which would allow him to go for sanity-saving walks with his new owner. And how we could tackle either of these jobs while putting all concerned at the minimum risk.
I could have sat an exam on the rules of furlough. This seemed like a new word, invented specifically to apply to the temporary laying off of thousands of staff during this lockdown, but in fact it is an ancient word, dating back to the time of religious missionaries, who would be granted a leave of absence, presumably after a tour of mission duty.
I bet lexicographers, accountants and HMRC officials never thought they’d be using this word so frequently. Mind you, a lot is happening at the moment that we would have never thought we’d be doing. Or not doing.
I counted down the days of isolation. Luckily, the greengrocer in Thirsk was happy to deliver. The box of fruit and vegetables was left at the gate. Were we eating more than usual, or was it just that the only source was the one fruit bowl?
I read some books and did some writing. Luckily, I have a cycling machine in the garage. This gets a lot of use, during the long, cold winter months and the almost equally long weekends on call as I wait for my phone to ring.
Once my fever had subsided, I felt fine and it was time to get back on the bike. Fortunately, the wifi signal magically reaches as far as the garage, so the long sessions of sweating it out were made more tolerable by Netflix.
The kids, like many millions of others across the world, were off school, so we all took turns on the exercise equipment. They had schoolwork emailed daily and set about it diligently. At least, being teenagers, they are reasonably self-sufficient and we haven’t had to get too involved in actual teaching – I’m not sure how well that would go.
The sun came out, so we set up the table-tennis table. Thank goodness for having a garden.
I planned that we should watch some classic films, together as a family. The Usual Suspects met with approval, but some of my other suggestions resulted in people drifting off to their bedrooms, with only the smallest attempt at an excuse. Film or no film, at least, the family is enjoying meal-time together. This only usually happens when we are away on holiday. Though this feels like anything but a holiday.
My sister dropped off some shopping. It was a long detour from Leeds, where she lives and I felt remiss not to have asked her in for coffee. She wouldn’t have come in anyway – she dropped the bags off the customary broom-length away and had a quick chat from the other side of the fence.
I’ve ordered more food and at the bottom of the shopping list I wrote: “Good news! I’m out later this week!”
*Catch up with Julian on the new series of The Yorkshire Vet which starts this Tuesday on Channel 5.
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