Blog. The Covid diaries are no more. After all, lockdown is easing (not for me it isn’t, no chance, I’m staying in until The Virus has buggered off) and I can’t forever name every post a Covid post.
Son no.2’s birthday came and went during lockdown. Our esteemed key worker managed to get us a Sainsbury birthday cake, featuring a gigantic monkey’s face. Son no.2 has maintained a fondness for monkeys since we bought him a very small, very cute toy monkey a long, long time ago from the gift shop at Harewood House. That monkey has lived with son no.2 ever since. Cutting into the jaunty monkey face on the oh so chocolatey cake felt a tiny bit like simian murder.
The husband also celebrated a birthday during lockdown – his 60th . Can I really be typing that? No, blog, say it isn’t so. There would have been a major family outing, to an escape room in London to celebrate this milestone, but then London shut down. We gave homemade cards to the husband and, in keeping with my Animal Crossing obsession, I made son no.2 an AC birthday card. My gaming mania knows no bounds.
Our local national country park opened its doors again a week ago. As soon as Boris decreed that parks would open again, we scanned our park’s website daily until it announced that the car parks would be open between 8 am – 8 pm, but the café and play areas would remain shut. Curiously, the loos are open. I have no intention of plonking my backside down on a loo seat that many backsides before me will have sat upon. After all, we’ve not been told to scrub our bums, whilst singing Happy Birthday twice, after using a public lav have we? And yet, is the skin on our nether regions not the same skin as on our hands? And aren’t public loos also filled with a myriad of other nasty bugs? Besides, I avoid public loos at all costs. According to many of the warring scientists/doctors, you can’t catch Covid from surfaces anyway; or the likelihood of catching enough of the virus, to cause you any problems, is very, very low, which begs the question, what’s the point in continually washing your hands?
My aversion to public loos stems from the fact that son no. 3 once got trapped in his ensuite bog at our local Centre Parc. There was I, sound asleep, when I suddenly awoke to an annoying knocking sound coming from the Lord knew where. I pummelled the husband awake, who maintained he couldn’t hear anything. I went on the prowl and the knocking got louder, until I ended up inside son no.3’s bedroom, found his bed was empty but also that the now loud knocking was coming from his bathroom. The lock on his bathroom door wouldn’t turn. It was one of those circular turning locks, where the lock is part of the knob – give me a straight, uncomplicated bolt any day. It took over an hour for a handyman to come out and, when he turned up, he couldn’t budge the lock (we’d tried kitchen knives in the meantime) and ended up hammering the door in. Since that day I have never locked a public toilet, which adds a new sense of urgency to the urgency I already feel when rushing to the loo.
I now live on My Haven. Yes, I’ve left this scary, slightly insane and virus-laden sceptered isle in favour of the inviting shores of my Animal Crossing island.
Like my fellow island residents, I upped sticks and took a chance that Tom Nook would let me stay on my very own island forever – seems he will. Unlike my fellow island residents, I am not continually whinging that I want to go home. Yes, that moment when Clay the hamster whinged that he felt he wasn’t wanted on My Haven, and should he go home, turned out to be a stock script all my neighbours regurgitate at varying intervals. Well, you’re not fooling me again with your fake pity parties. ‘Oh, there they go again,’ I moan, when stopped mid-fishing by an animoo with a cloud over its head. ‘Yes, please stay’ I rapidly scream at them, whilst silently also screaming, ‘now, just bugger off won’t you and leave me alone.’
But I tell a lie. I don’t want to be alone. I can’t stop accosting my neighbours. ‘Let’s talk,’ I’ll enthusiastically click with my ‘A’ button, only to be on the receiving end of the same drivel I got yesterday, and the day before that. But, actually, isn’t LIFE just like that? Doesn’t everybody spout pointless waffle. Talking of Art imitating Life. Just the other day, a neighbour had a friend around in her garden. I was lazing on our ancient, rusted swinging seat (very like the one in AC that I made for Clay the chubby hamster, only his is brand spanking new) when I gradually became aware of a continual, not stopping to breathe, soliloquy going on in the neighbour’s back garden. It must have been a solo performance as the neighbour never got a word in. Whoever the woman was, she deserves to get in the Guinness Book of World Records for fastest (but unintelligible) talker ever. But the weirdness didn’t end there. The really weird part was that she sounded just like Moose back on My Haven. Such was the quickfire delivery of her gossip, that she’d rendered herself into one of my cartoon island residents. Wondering if this now meant I’ve gone mad, I went back inside to resume the game.
Since my last post, I have now met KK Slider, the pop star Tom Nook was continually going on about and of whom I knew nothing. I am playing AC ‘blind,’ in that I don’t look it up online. Therefore, I went about my island life truly believing that a pop star (in human form) was going to perform for us all in some kind of amphitheatre, filled to the rafters with cartoon life forms. How this would be achieved via my Switch console, I had no idea, but that’s what I’d been expecting. Imagine the let-down; the absolute AC anti-climax, when KK Slider turned out to be a small dog, sitting on a tiny stool outside Resident Services, playing a guitar very badly. In fact, I’d walked past him thinking who the hell is that; I don’t remember housing a dog on My Haven.
Yes, old Tom informed me that I’d reached the point in AC, where I’d achieved the goal of getting KK to come to the island, and that I should attend his concert. The ‘concert’ turned out to be KK, me and one of my animoos in the plaza. After sitting through possibly the worst singing on the planet, I suddenly wondered if I should dare to approach the great KK and actually speak to him. I left my seat and asked KK to sing me a song of his choosing, whereupon I was suddenly swallowed by a black hole (initiating a moment of uncomprehending terror in yours truly) only for my black screen to reopen with me and the animoo (who’s name escapes me) gazing adoringly at KK as he strummed his guitar, whilst shooting stars and other pretty things fell down all around us from a night sky, as we bathed in a lovely, ethereal glow. It was oh so charming, as my alter ego stood swinging her arms and head in a gentle, rhythmical fashion. And then the AC credits started to roll.
WHAT!! I inwardly screamed at my console. Is that it? Is the game over? Has my island life come to an end in just a few weeks, just when it was getting started? But no, those credits signified the end of that portion of the game. Tom appeared, after the song (mercifully) ended, to inform me that My Haven was now mine, to do with as I wanted, so just get out there and have fun! ‘Thank you, thank you Mr Nook,’ I wanted to screech, whilst suppressing an urge to kneel at his little raccoon feet.
KK is now a permanent fixture in the plaza, playing every Saturday evening. I attend faithfully, along with my animoos, just so I can nab a free record from him, in an old vinyl-style cover, which I’m using as pictures to decorate my bathroom. Animoos is how I’m referring to my fellow residents. ‘Me and the animoos are going to see KK,’ or ‘me and the animoos are just hanging.’ It seems to fit. I turned to Google to see if the word ‘animoo’ exists and unfortunately it does, having a negative connotation, but I’m sticking with it. In my AC context it’s cute and it’s friendly.
To say KK is possibly the worst singer on the planet is an understatement. His warblings are a strange assault to your eardrums. Why Tom Nook was so desperate to get him as a permanent fixture on My Haven is a conundrum that will never be answered. I am encouraged to play his vinyl albums on my retro stereo (all things appear retro in AC, even the phones) but cannot bring myself to suffer the slings and arrows of an outrageous KK rendition.
I encountered Daisy Mae, the turnip seller, for the first time yesterday. DM is an equal assault to the eyes, as is KK to the ears. For Daisy Mae has an enormous globule of snot hanging from one piggish nostril. It is most off-putting. I cannot stress enough to the Nintendo Ninjas, that snot is not attractive in any form; even that of an infant pig. I spent most of our rapid discussion about turnips gagging, in an effort not to throw up, as the revolting lump of snot swung in and out of my vision, like a hypnotist’s watch. You don’t want to look, but you somehow have to.
My aim is to turn My Haven into the Yorkshire Dales, being I am unable to go home. Therefore, I’ve been busy terraforming (as the Animal Crossers call it) here, there and everywhere. Terraforming is an incorrect term here, as it strictly means changing an inhabitable planet so that it is more earth-like, but I’m going with the AC lingo. I have been building stone walls (thinking of them as dry-stone walls) and laying down stony paving. My landscaping is very ‘middle-aged;’ very Gardener’s World; very your average National Trust Garden – all very twee and very symmetrical. I have since seen, via YouTube, a craze known as ‘cottage-core’ or ‘cosy islands,’ which are lovely but somehow beyond my skills or aged mindset. I’m now watching a couple of AC YouTubers called Zanitor and Good Old Days Gaming. They are both male, both with attractively lilting and relaxing voices but, more importantly, in possession of just the kind of dry humour that sometimes makes me laugh out loud.
Here are some piccies of my current AC journey.
My middle-aged lounge, boasting the Mona Lisa no less (gifted by animoo Lionel) and with an upright piano (oh the joy when Nook’s Cranny had a piano for sale) which actually plays – rapture. I’ve had a good bash on it and, if you press A in just the right rhythmical way, you can get a good tune going. I also found out how to change my previously youthful hair to grey.
Some of my current landscaping.
This courtyard features newly planted cherry trees donated by the niece.
Outside Nook’s Cranny.
One of my cliff’s. There’s a preponderance of iron garden chairs everywhere, but I lack much choice in the furniture department in my game.
Moose, the little toe rag, has become my bestest friend. At least that’s how I think of him; he, of course, is just a bit of code and all unknowing. ‘Oh, there’s cute little Moose,’ I now think, whenever he hoves into view. I think of him as a child who must be mothered. ‘I must accost him with a bit of crap I no longer want, and I must force him to talk to me, and I must make him DIY items to furnish his puny little hovel.’ This persistence has meant that not only did Moose ask me for my nickname, but he also asked my advice on his annoying habit of addressing everybody as ‘Hey Shorty!’ particularly when I stand head and shoulders above him. ‘What shall I call you instead?’ he squeaked. ‘Hey Friend!,’ I eventually typed in after an age. This also forces Moose to be my friend, since it’s now part of his coding and he can’t escape it. Would that life were that simple.
Moose also asked me for a name he could call me which would just be between the two of us, being we’re such good animoos. ‘It’ll be our secret.’ There’s something just ever so slightly dodgy about this, but I’m going along with it.
I’ve been on three treasure hunts, set by Clay and then Moose, which instilled absolute terror as I rushed madly around my island, to the sound of a clicking stop watch, trying to find a star to dig up which would contain the ‘treasure’ in my allotted time of 5 minutes and then 3. The treasure turned out, in every case, to have been absolutely not worth all that manic dashing about.
But I’m hooked. Hook, line and sinker. Just like all those fish I repeatedly catch.