I nearly forgot to clap for the NHS last night, so far gone was I in my digitally generated new world of Animal Crossing. I was midway through catching a porker of a fish (turned out to be the gigantic oarfish) when I heard the distinctive sound of the Irish hand held drum, which one of my neighbours bangs on with a wooden spoon, making its way easily through our nearly new triple glazing (so much for triple glazing.) ‘I forgot the NHS!’ I screamed and threw son no.3’s switch on a cushion, whilst the sons came running downstairs. Stepping outside our front door, which never fails to produce a frisson of danger and excitement in these Covid times, we stood alongside our immediate neighbours, all clapping and smiling and exchanging diffident hellos, like we hadn’t seen each other for years. One of them was blowing on a shrill whistle, and a car drove down the road honking its horn the full length of the road. It must be said that there appears to only be a hardcore section of our road that bothers to come out for the NHS – maybe the rest clap inside, going with the biblical advice to not make a show of yourself when engaging in altruistic endeavours.
Yesterday I had another eureka Animal Crossing moment. I’d noticed that one of my in-game island residents has a very sparsely furnished house, during one of my visits to his humble abode; and yet the three strangers I invited to come live on my island have quite resplendent homes – partly furnished by my cartoon self. As is absolutely typical of the love/hate relationship I have with my fellow man, I’m now inflicting myself on my fellow island residents with an alarming persistence (exactly as in life.) I can’t walk past another house without knocking on its door, so I can snoop round the interior and have an entirely inane chat with the occupant. If one of my neighbours so much as hoves into view, then I’m on their case, sprinting up to them and shoving my face into theirs, even though one of them does nothing but whinge on about body building. But it’s the muscle obsessed ‘Moose’ who, yesterday, I began to feel sorry for as I paid yet another visit to his inadequate hovel.
I’d received a DIY recipe for a basic wooden waste basket but already have a black rattan waste basket. I’ll craft the wooden basket, thought I, and give Moose my black basket, the one that doesn’t fit in with my burgeoning English country cottage décor. Wouldn’t it be nice to help him furnish his home, even though he really gets on my wick. So, I skipped off to axe some wood from some trees, made the basket, went round Moose’s and eventually got to click on ‘this is for you’ after the usual inane chit-chat. And Moose, completely unexpectedly, gave me a revolting multi-coloured jacket in return, which caused me immediate distress until I had a light bulb moment to pass it on to Bianca, (the wannabee pop star tiger) in the guise of doing her a big favour. Bianca’s style is what I would term ‘common as muck,’ so methought the nauseating jacket Moose had palmed off on me would suit her to a T. Bianca was ecstatic when presented with my ‘gift’ and gave me a lovely spotted raincoat in return. Something I actually wanted, since it was chucking it down on My Haven.
So, that’s how that works! I silently exclaimed to myself. You pat my back and I’ll pat yours. Or rather, being a friendly, giving neighbour pays dividends. I’ve since discovered this is not always the case.
Today was May Day on My Haven and Tom Nook gave me a ticket (for free) to go visit an island for some recreational fun. The ‘fun’ turned out to be a dastardly maze. I’d envisioned lazing about on sun loungers, or sipping drinks beach-side, or being given the opportunity to collect really cool stuff and be showered with Bells. Instead I got given a manky old briefcase, when I finally emerged from the maze in triumph. Words cannot adequately convey my disappointment. What? I went through all that; re-setting the maze twice, because my brain couldn’t cope and neither could my nerves, as I jumped over holes in the ground which led only one way, only to be given a ‘present’ which was somebody’s battered, second-hand briefcase. During my maze wanderings, I noticed that occasionally I would spot a sort of white, watery, glittery stuff rising up from within the holes in the ground. I tried digging those holes, hoping to find out what it was but got nowhere.
Today also saw Isabelle informing me that My Haven has had quite desultory feedback from one resident, and is currently rated as a one-star island – the utter cheek of it! I nearly fell off my cartoon chair (this should be a reaction feature.) I mean, after I’ve spent days running around as fast as my tiny, short cartoon legs will carry me; working hard enough to shatter many a tool through slave labour type overuse; let alone engaging in mindless chatter with my paltry, completely uninteresting fellow residents. And here are both Tom and Isabelle, urging me to improve my island and get more people in. I don’t want more people in. In fact, I could do without muscle-bound Moose, painful Pashmina, bothersome Bianca and Clay the weird chubby hamster cluttering up My Haven. The only villager I remotely ‘like’ (she’s not real) is Olive, who is unfailingly nice and kind and sort of shy. The feeling that I am being invaded has not been helped by the arrival of a lion that looks unfathomably like Mozart (or how Mozart would look if he haunted your nightmares) whom Tom forced me to meet inside a tent (I actually hesitated before entering the tent) with the instruction that I ask him to live on my island. Why can’t I live in happy isolation, of the non-Covid kind?
This is my one-star home at the moment. As I tend to prioritise the paying of loans, I don’t have much left over to buy stuff. But I did splash out on a plastic lawn chair, placed next to the telescope, wherein I imagine my alter ego contemplates the stars, and a ye olde style well, which seemed like a good idea at the time but may now be entirely out of keeping. I surrounded my house, and the well, with fencing as I’ve got loads of panels left over and don’t know what to do with them. I also got some hedges and have plonked a few at the back of the house, totally misaligned, as choosing to plonk your house right next to a river has its drawbacks, it turns out.
The other HUGE worry is I now have a 580,000 bells loan, just so I could get another room in my house, and it’s just as tiny as my tiny bedroom. I spent an hour re-arranging my furniture to accommodate this extra room. Yes, I spent an hour re-arranging non-real furniture in a non-real house, whilst key workers throughout the land are risking The Virus so the likes of me can treat lockdown like it’s some sort of unexpectedly welcome holiday.