Cartoonist Gray Jolliffe, aged 82, has stopped worrying about death
It’s an unseasonal heatwave. I am sitting in a deckchair wondering what I’d be doing if we weren’t self-isolating. The clear answer is: sitting in a deckchair and cursing the fact that soon I’d have to drive into London to have supper with someone or other.
I’m listening to the wonderful roar of no planes and no traffic. And the deafening cacophony of birdsong which seems never to have existed before.
The only other sound is the ominous gurgle of my life savings going down the drain.
But on the upside, my credit card is snoring in the deep sleep of the innocent. The sky is bright blue and for once not crisscrossed with aircraft contrails. The blackbird in an apple tree is singing nonstop, presumably claiming his patch and telling his rivals to eff off.
Didn’t seem to notice this stuff before.
So I’m here with Mrs J and she is providing healthy meals, saving my old body from the junk I normally inflict on myself when eating out. Saving me from myself. She doesn’t drink, and as a result I’m cutting down. Ten units a day is now looking like a realistic goal.
I live in the countryside near Henley and so I have the freedom to go on walks and give old friends a smiling two metres space and sometimes even more. We are very lucky, and the lovely people in the local village shop are always helpful and cheerful.
Feel really sorry for the poor souls cooped up in city tower blocks with kids, suffering domestic violence.
As a cartoonist I always work at home. I do six cartoon strips every week for the Daily Mail and so far, touch wood, they haven’t told me to stop. So my daily routine is pretty much what it was. The only difference being no physical socialising with the kids, grandkids, and friends.
We even fired up our TV set and were surprised to find it still worked. Not much worth watching though, and we assiduously avoid the news (an old habit since Brexit days).
If I go into Henley for supplies I wear my scuba mask and snorkel. People laugh, but at least it’s skin tight and washable. All the handwashing and isolation means our immune system is getting lazy. Our antibodies have stopped going to the gym and are getting fat and complacent. Will they be able to cope if Mr Coroner Virus is waiting the wings? Can it live on paper?
I’ve given up hosing down the newspapers and letters as it makes them soggy and hard to read.
I’ve also stopped worrying about death. Life’s too short. So now at last I can do all the DIY odd jobs I’ve been putting off. And sort out the crime scene that is my man-shed/office. But then the phone rings and it’s a friend and that’s another hour gone tits up. The phone and Zoom and Whaaaaasup and Facetime are OK.
But to be honest – and selfish – if there were some way to see family and certain dear friends close up and personal, I’d be in no hurry to get out of jail.
Cartoonist Gray Jolliffe is best known for his Wicked Willie series, as well as Chloe & Co., which appears in the Daily Mail. He also contributes to the Idler. Born in the UK and raised in the US and the Bahamas, Gray returned to England to study architecture and then worked in advertising for many years. Picking up a pen, and combining his doodles with a natural talent for wordplay, his illustration career was launched.