Goodnight – Tessa Waugh’s hunting diary: The new normal *H&H Plus*

  • While her own restrictions pale in comparison to others’ hardships, Tessa Waugh rues the days she cut the postman’s banter short as she yearns for just 10 minutes of idle chatter

    We’re all slowly adapting to “the new normal” as people keep calling it. Our horizons have shrunk to a pin prick (the immediate precincts of the farm) and hanging with the family is what we do ad infinitum: a bit like a domestic version of Groundhog Day, with one day looking very much like the other. It will change all of us this time (I try not think about how long it will go on), and two weeks in, I’m already noticing differences.

    Neil the postman, or more accurately my reaction to Neil the postman, is the first big change. He’s a lovely guy, the type who will do anything for anyone, but pre-coronavirus I didn’t always welcome his friendly chat. I hope I wasn’t rude, but the truth is I probably was.

    “I’m too busy for this,” pre-coronavirus me would think, as he opened the door with a cheerful shout of “Postie”, and I shrunk behind my laptop with a cursory “thank you and good morning”. I couldn’t wait to usher him out of the door and get on with my day. A few years ago, Neil’s bosses gave him a different round; someone said he was taking too long to get the job done, what with all his chatting. Whether that was true or not I’m not sure.

    Anyway, several months ago he was back again, bringing the post and his usual array of cheerful greetings, snippets of local news, along with helping old ladies and getting cats out of trees and the like. Now we are all in lockdown and there has been a big change. Neil is still delivering like the trooper he is, only now he’s out of the van with the post and back in again like a scalded cat. I haven’t had more than a “hello” out of him for weeks.

    Meanwhile, I am starved of conversation with anyone beyond the immediate family and would pay good money for 10 minutes with Neil discussing how the Post Office could improve their fleet of vans, the state of the roads, snow – whatever it might be. I’m considering trip wires, free hand gel, anything to keep him on the place longer than five seconds flat.

    This morning I spoke to a lady in Wales, who had about 20 horses to do single-handedly, with a husband stuck abroad and none of her usual help on hand. She is 60 and her day of hard labour begins early in the morning and doesn’t end until nine at night. It made my postman-related musings seem rather pathetic in comparison. If that’s all I have to worry about in the weeks ahead, life will be going well.

    Ref Horse & Hound; 16 April 2020