A plague was bad enough. Is bad enough … the dame seems to want to hang around for some time still. I have been a good girl I have, doing the quarantining when I should have, two weeks in isolation and staring at the ceiling, but then there was the odd spot of walking, and taking in a much needed gulp of fresh air.
Now, dear Lord, the Hotel quarantine has raised it’s ugly head. For the opportunity to return to London after my stint in the South, I will face a ten day sentence, at my expense. To recap, just to really ponder it deeply, I shall voluntarily submit to being locked up in a hotel room, at the airport, in mid-winter, at my own expense for the price of a castle, for ten days. In this time, escorted to jail, I will have the dubious experience of three delicious meals a day, and that is it. Travel supreme.
The vision: travel for twelve hours, subjected to a Covid test with nostrils flaring and gagging on a stick. Mask wearing for close to twenty-four hours. Reception, dark. Interrogation, for sure. Marched to a room, door locked and sealed and … the tragedy begins.
I shall call it debtor’s prison, for surely the cost of the tests, flight and storage of moi, will bankrupt me.
‘It was an airless room, still dank and smelling of the previous occupant. The stale stench of hibernation pervades. My only companion, my suitcase, must find residence in the small space, enough to see for comfort, not to become the object of ‘Wilson’ to which I may cling as my sanity escapes through the keyhole.
The utmost of fears, realised, is that the window is one that will not open. It is a non-opening window. Air is expensive. Being an airport hotel, the view, through the unwashed window shall resemble a veil of British waste, streaks of grey to peer between to view, gray. Anxiety reigns. It is only the first five minutes, so I shall steel myself to the outcome and look for the many bottles of wine I packed in the second suitcase for the very purpose.
As I look around, the bed offers no comfort but a a future womb of troubleness. There is a desk, a television, a chair and in the beside drawer, a bible. The latter will come in handy when I say my last confession. The bathroom, no window, will be my second home, complete with small cake of soap and a shower cap which I must resist to put over my head to end it all.
I will exercise – despite the carpet looking like a map of the world with stains resembling cities and the others, we shall call them something else. Perhaps I shall exercise on my bed. Or in the bath. Or, on top of the basin. In a cupboard, if there is one.
Day two will find me at fifty hours of sleeping. Netflix has invaded my veins. Facebook, my best friend and books, well, I forgot to bring any. Good for me though, brownie badge for getting changed into clothes. Make-up done.
Day four and I have forgotten whether I did get dressed, or perhaps just pretended to. The thirty showers a day has become moot. I am trying to remember what day it actually is, so brushing my teeth could have happened yesterday.
Day six and I am Fagan, gnarly and suspicious of sound. Paranoia descends and I am convinced the world has ended and I am the last person alive, only no-one will find me and I shall be locked in forever. I have made friends with the marks on the walls, given them names and speak to them regularly. The sheets have become monsters and I am singing Christmas songs with stale toast to celebrate.
Tried pleading for a walk, a talk, a trip to the lobby to get tampons and a gun, but they said no. You are too old for tampons and we don’t supply guns. My knives are plastic now. They took the bathrobe belt away.
Day three. I’m good. At least I think it is day three, or was that last year? I have fallen in love with Piers Morgan, and he speaks to me, I know it is just to me, sending little signals through the television. I have started climbing the headboard, just like I did when I climbed Mount Everest, or was it the Parliament buildings, or the gallows at Tyburn – I forget. The hag in the mirror is cackling at me, bubble, bubble, toil and trouble. But I am not afraid, I am Amazon. What was Amazon? Bits of food confetti my bed. Someone screamed close by, dying in the Great Fire. But I am good.
Day whatever. Fear of water and Golm under my bed. I can play the castanets now, and dribble for long periods of time. The gas lamps are lit, the candles burn and my music makes me long for Barry Manilow. Invented fifty ways of lying on my bed. Was my first glass of wine at six am or six fifteen, I forget but it does not matter … have forgotten a few things of late. Like my name, for instance. So I will be known as Lucretia.
Call me Lucretia.’
When the hotel staff came for testing, I was naked, begging for more.
When the hotel staff came to let me out, I was sleeping in my suitcase.
Singing softly about coffee houses, gin and toffs who collect dog shit for the tanneries.
So, with this wonderful possibility of a) going stark raving mad, or
b) going stark raving mad.
I may just wait until the hotel/prison/bedlam/gulag/dying in a suitcase/begging for swabs up my nose situation is lifted, I may just sit tight and dream of England, from afar. Oh, England, I long to see you, but your demands are too high for a mere waif like me who needs air to breath, a walk in your wonderful parks, and a coffee that doesn’t taste like the Thames, circa 1600.
Just saying …