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‘A Lockdown Diary’, by the Sherwood Care Home Residents

Short stories
Samlesbury Hall

So…. I have lost the lot, I don’t know how it happened, it must have been in the mayhem of the move to this new Care Home. Samlesbury Hall, a historic house complete with ghost, is now owned by multi-millionaire Dick Ransom known for his entrepreneurial spirit and world-wide business empire who purchased the house to add to his portfolio of “Care Homes”, billed as glamorous retreats for the elderly.

In actual fact Samlesbury Hall is less glamour and more faded glory set-up as a hotel style residential Care Home…. I fit in perfectly!

The antique chandeliers are vintage, or rather not working properly, a bit like some of the staff here, however in theory what’s not to like…except I lost all my belongings in the move. Admittedly most of them were a mixed bag…a little like the mixed bag of personalities here: or at least the ones on my floor.

Would you believe the moment I arrived the government declared a pandemic: an invisible virus, which could kill all of us frail elderly’s! We immediately went into Lockdown in our rooms. There was me thinking I could enlarge my social life and here I am in isolation! Thank goodness, my room is on the ground floor with views of beautiful grounds, mischievous squirrels and extremely noisy birds.

I can hear Floris’s voice despite room isolation. Floris came with me from the last Care Home, Robin Manor and is still being true to her mantra; doors are no barrier to Floris making her feelings clear. I think she must spend the whole time with the emergency bell in her hand to make sure she doesn’t get forgotten.

We aren’t told much but I heard Maggie was rushed into hospital, keeping my fingers crossed she pulls through.

I decided to follow one of Mohamed Ali’s quotes, “Don’t count the days, make the days count” as my motto, so as the days merge one into another I figured, if I’m stuck here for weeks on end I will write a diary and launched into typing on my computer. Oh yes…just because we are elderly doesn’t preclude us from the computer world…we are the “silver surfers”, except, I did something with the task bar thingy at the top of the screen and nearly lost all the blooming diary…you could hear my screams from afar. Bizarrely none of the staff came in to
check if I was okay…strange that?

One meal is morphing into another. I think the kitchen have decided to hunker-down and re-create Blitz style eating rations! Very odd supper served this evening, a small dish of baked beans and a toastie, which was a flaky pastry slice with an unidentifiable meat. It’s a challenge to our great British spirit!

It’s a strange feeling being in isolation, if someone opens their door an Air-Raid-like shriek goes up “shut the door, stay out”. Some folk don’t understand why they can’t come in and sometimes the door open’s and no-one comes in!

Self-imprisonment is challenging while the weather is bliss, when suddenly I am allowed to sit in the garden with a large glass of sherry for company. One of the perks is “sherry-o-clock”.
Self-reflection means I’m becoming increasingly absorbed by the internal workings of my body, and in particular my (lack-of) bowel movements…hello prunes my old friend.

While endless TV repeats including, “Poirot” and “ Murder on the Orient Express”, make me ponder the spooky history of Samlesbury Hall and its reputation for being haunted by a “White Lady”.

Today I decided to Google some people from my past ( having thought this Lockdown would be an opportunity to catch up with old friends, everyone seems to have dropped off the planet, or maybe I have out-lived them!). I started with the Aristocracy I used to work for and an enormous 85-roomed Tudor Mansion, which was also haunted. I had never figured out the background of the new Lady of the House, but on reflection maybe her intimate knowledge of cleaning might be a clue. Perhaps it’s the “Poirot” mysteries affecting my psyche.

Red alert! I have tested positive for C-19! Strange, I have no obvious symptoms except fatigue and grumpiness. Whilst this is scary, none of the staff seem unduly worried because they operate with something called PPE… (sounds like a new disinfectant). We are confronted constantly with staff in masks and white aprons sometimes appearing to float before your eyes – very unsettling – don’t know if they are real or not!

From what I hear we have had a peaceful few nights with no new illnesses, or emergencies, but listening to the news on television about the suffering in other countries I feel like we are lucky to be in our isolated bubble.

I anticipated today would be a quiet day even though it’s my 86th birthday, but folk seem to have spread the word. Staff arrived with a lovely cake complete with 4-candles enthusiastically singing happy birthday all in aprons behind masks, difficult to know who-was-who, I felt sure there was an extra someone. They made a lonely day feel special allowing me time in the garden to plant and water in the sunshine, with a glass of sherry of course. The best part, my daughter came to visit, blowing me kisses through the windows. Hopefully we will
reunite very soon, it must be heart breaking for those with no family visits.

I heard on the grapevine Maggie is back from hospital having fought and survived this awful disease, no mean feat, good for her. Cheers!

My recollections continue, as my body waits for the prunes to kick-in again. My head is buzzing with a time I worked in a large house where the butler (from a Royal residence) took a liking to me. It’s amazing what pops into your mind when you are focussed on your inner sewage system. The butler was an emotional mess and for some reason became besotted with me despite being in a dalliance with the housekeeper. Given I didn’t reciprocate his affections an impasse occurred which resulted in his departure.

Back to reality, the Activity Team working on various art projects have encouraged us to take part in a Charity Auction for Florence Nightingale’s 200th Anniversary plus a V.E. Day Competition. Much enthusiasm emanates from the team with paper, paints, words, newspapers and a multitude of ideas all given alongside supportive comments which has us all creating in our own special ways.

Today I gave myself a haircut with a pair of nail scissors, which is quite a stylish job, though I say so myself! I could save hundreds of pounds in the future!

Victory! Our artwork for the V.E. Day Competition won the age 18+ age group – hilarious and marvellous all at the same time. Plus, our artworks entered for the Florence Nightingale Charity Auction have all sold raising £500 for the “Artists for the NHS” – well done ladies!

Who would believe such success could come out of Lockdown and from a Care Home full of frail elderly?

Another Mohamed Ali quote springs to mind, “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth”.

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