David McKinnon from Clydebank works in IT for a care provider. He tells his story through diary entries.
“Look, your Dad kept a diary in 2020.”
“No way, let me see.”
“Aye, look, there’s not much in it, he didn’t keep it going long.”
Sunday, 15th March 2020 – COVID apocalypse day 1
Keep a diary, some historian said on Twitter. They will make amazing primary sources at some point. Fair enough. Here’s my COVID diary. No one but me will ever read it.
So, day 1. The end of the world, the dead rose, cities burned, except they didn’t. Instead, people panic bought bread, milk and, bizarrely for a respiratory disease, bog roll.
No one’s entirely sure what’s happening. Big Boris is AWOL, they keep wheeling random terrified looking stuffed shirts out to issue vague instructions, which are then contradicted almost immediately by the Scottish Government who are taking very definite action. Even if that action is just “wait and see what London says, then do the opposite.” At least it’s something.
Schools will be open tomorrow, so the wee man’s going in. Still got his Highers to worry about. From tomorrow, I’ll be working full time from home. Got the laptop home and a wee space in the corner of our living room sorted, reclaimed from the clean laundry pile that usually sits on our big table waiting to get folded.
So, am I scared? Dunno…maybe a bit, it’s hard to say. It’s all a bit unreal. Not too worried about the virus, personally, more worried about the economic impact, jobs and the kids that are meant to be leaving school this year.
Oh aye, in the real world, happy 50th Laura! At least we managed to get out for your birthday before the world ended!
PS. After I wrote this, I got a call from Dad’s care home. They are going into lockdown. No one can get in to see him. He’s ok though, and there’s no virus in the unit. I’m a bit worried, he’s not long out the hospital after his pneumonia, I didn’t get along to see him this week either. Hopefully we can sort something out.
Day 2: Monday, 16th March
Day 1 of working from home. Surprisingly busy and tiring. No doubt Laura will find that bitterly hilarious, as she started a 32 hour 1 to 1 care shift at 9…
Day 3: Tuesday, 17th March
Another day in the hoose. Remote working driving me up the wall. Lots of remote access problems, plus a systems outage caused by a freak fire in our comms room. Honestly…lucky white heather…
All still well in the house. No one ill. We’re keeping Ben home from school, we’re not sure how safe the schools are, and it’s not so much we’re worried that we’ll get it, but Laura’s still working, so she could end up passing it to one of the guys she cares for. Shops quiet, but roads really busy, for some reason.
Day 4: Wednesday, 18th March
Fucking lost my marbles with the working from home today. Feels like we’re all paying lip service to an attempt to carry on as normal, while everything’s being pared away to reveal…nothing. Most of us are doing nothing of any importance, the real works done by other people. Fully expecting to get laid off at some point soon.
No sleep last night. Ben’s in holiday mode and was making loads of noise, gaming with his pals on the internet.
Day 5: Thursday, 19th March
Finally remembered what day it is! Thursday!
Not much sleep again last night.
Not sure if I’m worried. I don’t feel worried. Maybe I am though.
Not getting on well at work. Busy. Stressful.
That’s the schools to close, exams are being cancelled too. Hope this doesn’t fuck Ben over. At least he has a college place sorted already.
Day 6: Friday, 20th March
Another strange day. Out of the blue, this is Ben’s last ever day at school. He’s away in, despite protests from Laura, to see his pals. What a shame. School over, just like that. No exams, no dance, no proper last day. Shite. I ended up a mess. I got my traditional last day of school term photo and stuck it on facebook next to one from his first day, then I spent half an hour greetin like a fuckin idiot…
Work busy, stressful and chaotic again.
I feel like I’m getting a cold. I hope it’s a cold…
“That’s nearly it, it misses out a load of days. There’s only a couple of more entries. You need to let me see the school photos your Dad took of you!”
Wednesday, 1st April
A couple of years ago, Laura did a survey of the birds in our back garden, and it was pretty grim. A load of pigeons and that was about it. Since then, she’s been dutifully putting food out for them, every day, and we’ve now got a beautifully balanced ecosystem out there. We’ve got crows, magpies, sparrows, finches and god knows what else, all exploiting the ready availability of food and nesting in the hedges and trees. They’re delicately balanced by mad old Jess the cat, who hangs out in the back garden and watches them all. She is far too old to hunt, but her inner rage still keeps her warm, she’s still insanely territorial and terrifies cats twice her size and half her age, so she keeps other predators away. So when Jess appears, the birds all disappear. Then a couple of crows reappear for a recce, perched on the washing line. Once they clock it’s old Jess, they hop back down and start feeding, and that’s a sign for all the rest of them to swoop back in, pigeons first. Greedy buggers.
This is the single best thing about this year. I sit out the back on Zoom meetings in the sun and watch all the carry on. The squad of baby starlings all scrapping with each other, how smart the crows and magpies are, how stupid the pigeons are, old Jess sitting in the middle of it all trying to pretend she’s not bothered. I could sit there and watch it all day.
Saturday, 25th April 2020
At 3:19 this morning, Dad’s care home called and told me he died in his sleep. The doctor phoned a bit later and said he thought it was Coronavirus.
I can’t stop thinking about this, that at some point in early March, without realising it, I saw Dad for the last time. Just before the lockdown. I think it might have been the weekend before. I’d taken him a paper, the Record or the Mail, depending on what day I went down. He’d stopped reading them years ago, after he took the huff over something they’d printed about Celtic. He’d started reading the Daily Mail, but there was no way I was buying that shite. He was too far gone to be able to read anyway, but he liked to turn the pages and fold the paper over, as if he was just about to nip to the toilet with it. He used to do that when I was wee. Used to give everybody the boke.
So we’d sat for a bit, he looked at the paper, while I chatted and did the crossword. When I went to leave, he asked, “will ye no stay wi me?”
I didn’t stay. I must have had somewhere more important to be.
I don’t know for sure if that was the last time though. I can’t really remember.
I should know.
I should know when the last time I saw my Dad was.