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The dog ate our doorbell

October 25, 2020

Exciting news. We have a new doorbell.

The old one was rather temperamental. Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t. All the efforts of generations of electricians failed to figure out what was wrong. In the end, it died.

And no, the dog didn’t really eat it, though she would have happily done so if she could jump that high. But the doorbell’s demise was the cause of great disappointment for Poppy, who would let out an earth-shattering cannonade of barking every time it rang. It was worse still when she was sitting beside me. Every time she burst forth, I recoiled with the shock, so much so that I considered buying one of those portable defibrillators in case my heart finally gave out. Not that it would have been much use to me, and I doubt if the dog could operate it. So it would have been down to my wife, who fortunately has experience with such machines.

Poppy died a couple of years ago, but we did nothing about the doorbell. So what if visitors had to bang the door, and Amazon delivery drivers had to leave their stuff in the “designated place”? And so what if we didn’t even have a door-knocker?

That said, the new doorbell is a source of great delight to our two-year-old grandson. He’s a bells-and-whistles kind of guy. Anything that can be pressed that produces a tangible result, such as a light switch or one of those ghastly toys that triggers an audio recording on pressing a button, and he’s up for it. So now, when he comes to visit, he insists on pressing the bell at least three times before entering the house. So easy to please. No doubt it won’t be long before he’s learning to code.

As for us, now that we’ve re-joined the 20th century with this exciting piece of technology, what’s next? The internet of things, perhaps. Maybe we’ll acquire one of those video cameras with which you can see who’s approaching your front door while you’re lounging on a beach somewhere. Even better if it has a built-in taser that you can activate to repel invaders.

Until then, we cluck with delight at every sound of the doorbell, because we know that someone’s waiting at the door to deliver good things. Or, at the very least, to welcome us into the arms of Jesus.

Such simple pleasures are the stuff of life these days, as social pressure and the near indecipherable instructions of government keep me mainly confined to quarters. Would I rather be out and about, busy calculating the risk of exposure to COVID based on Japanese models, worked out by supercomputers, of the likely spread of the virus through aerosol transmission, with and without masks, as I step into a shop or sit down in a socially distanced restaurant table? I think not.

I do miss shopping in supermarkets (my wife has taken on that onerous and dangerous burden), because therein is another simple pleasure to be had. Not so much people-watching, because half the fun of that activity is observing the faces of fellow shoppers, which are now only partly visible.

More, basket watching. I find it fascinating observing other people’s shopping when I’m in the checkout line. I try and work out from the products in their basket whether the person is single or has a partner. Whether they have kids. Whether the kind of food they buy is for them, based on their physical shape and apparent level of fitness, or for someone else.

I delight in asking myself how on earth could anyone buy frozen this, hydrogenated that and processed something else. Every basket tells a tale. Perhaps of prissiness, fad obsession and perhaps even a dangerous love of alcohol.

I can feel quietly superior, though I would never admit this to anyone except you. I can also be unaware – because I don’t care – of the impression my shopping basket gives to others. It’s probably a bad one, because I usually buy the stuff that’s not good for me, despite the disapproval that greets my purchases when I get home. This is how pork pies creep into our lives.

Meanwhile, outside the little window on the world that lives in my laptop, sound and fury rages. Hysteria, hatred. Bald men fighting over combs. Governments failing, politicians melting down, people suffering.

The other day, I went for a check-up at my local clinic. Everything OK? came the question. As much as can be expected, I answer. How’s your mental health? That was a new one, presumably because of COVID. Fine, I said, in a confident voice. I expected to be asked about the state of my waterworks, which is a common question put to men of my age, to which I would have answered: as well as can be expected. Perhaps mental health these days is deemed to be more important than the state of a person’s prostate.

Anyway, all seemed well, though I was a bit surprised that a routine blood test was scheduled to take place after the check-up rather then before. I made that point. It seems that this is because of COVID, like everything else, I guess. Can’t think why though.

Why this conversation about doorbells, shopping baskets and the state of one’s prostate? Because the real meaning of “take back control” is not being frustrated by all the fires that rage around us and nurturing an illusion that we, or our politicians, can do something about them. It’s actually all about finding ways not to be swept away by tides of negative emotion.

And taking pleasure in small things. All good? Good.

From → Social, UK

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