“It was a dark, black mask and I thought it looked OK, it looked like the Lone Ranger,” says Donald Trump.
ActorLaddie looks up from his book. “Surely the Lone Ranger wore his mask over the eyes? And anyway, why on Earth are you watching Donald Trump?”
“I’m not – I’m watching Sarah Cooper. I went onto YouTube to check some face-mask stuff and I got side-tracked. Wanna watch?”
ActorLaddie joins me at the table and together we watch Sarah Cooper lip-syncing to Donald Trump talking about masks. Then one of our old favourites: Trump talking about injecting disinfectant. Then – oh, there’s a new one! Trump talking about ‘acing’ the Montreal Cognitive test.
I think Sarah Cooper is hilarious but, of course, the material she’s been provided with is comedy gold. I’ve been particularly enjoying the recent ones about the Montreal Cognitive test because, along with every other Parkie here, I’ve done that test so many times that I literally know it by heart. I know that Trump’s really difficult questions at the end include such humdingers as what day is it, what do a bicycle and a train have in common and name some words that start with f. The whole thing must take ten minutes at the most. I may have mentioned this to ActorLaddie once. Or thrice.
I tear myself away from Sarah Cooper videos and go back to researching face-masks. I’ve actually been making masks for some months now. It’s by way of a Bargaining with the Gods: you know how much I hate sewing, so if I make some masks please keep my kith and kin safe.
Long time readers will remember that sewing and I have a very uneasy relationship dating back to my primary school years. (Digested version: rubbish hemming, ritual humiliation). I can now churn out a mask in – oh, a day or two – but I’m still not a hundred per cent sure about the elastic fastening. Even with a knitted mask extender around the back, the masks are not what-I’d-call comfy.
Which, up till now, has not been much of a problem – they’re good enough for the very rare pop to the shop. But this last week, my mobile library round started up again, with me delivering books to a handful of housebound readers. The Royal Voluntary Service, who run the gig, rightly insist that we stand and deliver the books be-masked. That’s us masked, not the books. The books are quarantined, untouched since lock-down, and are practically singing Italian opera to each other to relieve their boredom.
With most of my readers being of a goodly age, I’d been a bit anxious, diligently disinfecting everything in sight and keeping my distance. But everyone seemed grateful for the books and, with just one reader to go – Mr E (interests: the Kray twins and making model carriages out of matchsticks), I’d actually started to enjoy the morning.
Mr E lives in sheltered housing and, as I arrived, an elderly chap with a stick was slowly making his way down the ramp at the communal entrance. I duly stood back and when he reached the bottom of the ramp, he turned to me and, with a bit of a brandish of his stick, said:
“You could have got past me earlier – there’s plenty of room! And…” pointing at my mask, “if you’re that worried about getting it, you should stay at home!” Then he hobbled off down the street.
If Sarah Cooper runs out of material to lip-sync from her native grumpy, and possibly demented, old man, I have a suggestion for her.