It’s taken me a few weeks to recover and, my husband Dean dryly tells me, for the gathered crowds out in the street below to wane, so it seems far enough away in modern history to share with you.
Of course Covid-19 plays a key role in this situation. We live in France, our daughter studies in Edinburgh, so her departure from our place after Christmas was layered with anxiety.
She was flying back to Edinburgh on KLM via Amsterdam as Easyjet seemed to have thrown in the (lemon scented sanitiser) towel as far as offering anywhere practical to escape to.
Our daughter is an organised and careful young lady, and rang KLM ahead of time to check if she, an Aussie citizen with a UK student visa, needed to present a negative covid test before boarding. The Dutch government website had said that students were exempt and this was again confirmed by the KLM help desk.
To avoid adding to any post-holiday crowds, we kissed and dropped her off at Geneva airport and pootled the short distance back home to Ferney. But Covid being Covid, when she tried to check her bag in at the check-in counter they informed her that the ‘no test needed for students’ exception only applied to Dutch students.
The attendant was sympathetic to her plight and spent a considerable amount of time trying to find alternate ways to get her into Scotland, even on other airlines. Ultimately her efforts at trying to fly her through Paris, Helsinki or EasyJet were unsuccessful, and our tearful twenty one year old gave us a call.
As Dean drove back to the airport to pick her up, I took our perky shelter dog Felix out for his overdue pre-dinner time walk and, as Dean phoned to give an update on the likelihood of a flight in the next day or so, the naughty little beast (Felix; not Dean) decided to enthusiastically and rather effectively rub his face, ears and neck into a freshly backed-out pile of pooch poop.
With a proud trot by Felix and a tired sigh by myself, we both returned home, keeping social distancing to five metre maximum his lead would allow. At the door, I kicked off my boots and grabbed Felix, barely enduring the stench and repulsive transfer of the poop onto my arms and chest and rapidly deposited him into the bath. As Felix stood there looking miffed, I stripped off, vaguely decided that the old hoodie might be best disposed off rather than soaked and washed and worn again.
Unhooking the shower hose and finding the right temperature for refurbishing my fecal friend, I used several handfuls of pet shampoo to eradicate his temporary turd tattoo. To his credit, he never attempted to escape, but his downturned tail and intermittent ear flaps ensured that his disappointment in me was clear.
As I was towelling him off — an activity he really enjoys — I heard Dean unlock the door and our daughter disappointedly drag her suitcase back inside. As we humans set to discussing the idea of drowning our sorrows in G&Ts as Felix lay by the radiator, I went to have a shower to effectively rid myself of any residual refuse that Felix had transferred to me.
It was that time of the day anyway. Covid interfering again. Shutdowns in France had changed my showering habits to tea time — around 6pm, because walking Felix several times a day in ‘dog lady clothes’ got me pretty sweaty, so why not wait until pre-dinner and clean up then?
Not to clean up for wearing glam clothes or a night out because of the 6pm national curfew, but at least I could be clean and in my pajamas, with Felix’s final walk just a trip downstairs for a bedtime bladder emptying and no sweat from me.
Back to the ablutions. Several latherings of summer apple gel later with a final one to add a ‘clean’ feel after the first two coatings were just to get rid of lingering shit, made me feel much more optimistic. We’d find a way to get our daughter back to university, get the Covid tests sorted and she’d now have a cuddly dog smelling of a flowery meadow and flea treatment to comfort her. A clinking glass of GnT would help matters too.
Enjoying the warm contentment of being squeaky-clean and delightfully fragrant, I strolled into the bedroom to switch on the light. It was 6pm and the window was black. It took a few seconds for my mind to comprehend that the blackness meant that the blinds were up and the light reflected in the glass was not from the ceiling but from the street outside. I was a streaker in the street lights and a man passing by got a view he neither expected nor needed. Our mouths both made an ‘O’ of shock at exactly the same time before I dropped to the floor, coughed whilst inhaling a dust bunny under the window sill and groped around for the switch to pull the blinds shut. I think I may have laid there for at least a few more minutes after the blinds were down, heart rate slowly resuming to normal after the enormity of what I’d just shown to a bloke innocently walking from the bus stop.
By sheer coincidence, the next day when chatting to my neighbour Claudio who lives on the first floor of our building, he asked me: “Why do you always shut your blinds at night? You’re on the second floor, no-one can see in.”
I described my sad and impromptu peep show and the new knowledge that the second floor height of our bedroom window most certainly did allow people to ‘see in.’
After a few moments of being doubled over in laughter, he nodded in understanding. I’m a creature of habit when it comes to shower times during Corona, and refused to tell him what time of night it occurred. No need to add to the street traffic during the Coronavirus crisis.