Chapter Twenty-Four

Harriet is about to go into her new workshop. Set into a limestone wall there is an open blue door on the right and a big grey roller shutter to the left.


Mr Chow arranged for the keys for the workshop to be couriered to Harriet with instructions to visit and take possession at her leisure. The courier arrived while Harriet was out and so it was left with Amanda. When Harriet returned, and Amanda gave her the small padded envelope, she felt a sense of excitement as she ripped it open and found a set of keys and a brief letter. The workshop was now hers to use, with a few tasks to do and ongoing work for the garden railway. The work for the railway was also going to be paid work. That was a surprise to Harriet, she thought it was in lieu of full rental costs, but Mr Chow’s letter stated that would make the peppercorn rent more complicated then it needed to be. It meant that Harriet had a paying client from the start, and on her door step! It couldn’t be better.

Harriet gave Amanda the letter to read too, to check that there was nothing she had missed, or misunderstood.
“That’s a really good bonus bit of income, Harriet!” Amanda said. “Hopefully it will pay enough and still leave time for you to do your own work.”

“Either that or I really get into making railway stuff and become a train spotter or something! I mean, seriously, at the moment who knows where life will take me, and it isn’t as if I have a string of clients wanting my work, yet. I’ll take it a day at a time and see how it all goes, but the income would be very useful.
“By the way, how’s your Mum?”

“Oh, as well as can be expected I guess. I am worried for her with this Corona virus thing we keep hearing about now. From what I hear she would be really vulnerable if it spreads over here. Also if we are going to get locked down like other countries are doing then I might want to think about moving her here first so we can look after her more easily.”

“Do you think it will come to that? Are we all going to be confined to the house?” Harriet looked concerned.

“I don’t know, but I do know there is talk, and educated guesses. Adam was thinking that we should move Mum sooner, in case things get worse and we can’t.”

“Oh, that’s sensible I guess I had better look at moving my stuff into the box room then. If I do it now then there won’t be a rush later. I could put a lot of my stuff straight into the workshop. It is so tempting to say ‘Oh it won’t come to anything’ hopefully, but it’s your mum and so worth being extra cautious.”

It seemed the decision was made fairly easily, if Sybil was agreeable she would move into Harriet’s old room for the duration of any potential lock down and then see how things worked out. Harriet would move into the box room for the time being, and put her stuff into the workshop. Now she had the keys she could start sorting and moving her things immediately.

As a mark of this new change, Harriet decided to start tweeting her activities, her blog will have to come later when Adam had a chance to set it up for her. Start as I mean to go on. She thought.

February ended up being a busy month for Harriet. Adam and Amanda started on reorganising the room ready for Sybil to move into while Harriet moved across the landing to the smaller room. All her books and tools were packed up and put in the garage ready to move over to the workshop.
After her caretaking work the following morning she headed straight over to the workshop to have a proper look around. The place looked bigger now that it was empty of scaffolding, building materials, and workmen. Harriet couldn’t resist spinning round and round, with her arms out stretched, in the middle of the workshop floor with a big grin on her face, until she began to feel a little giddy. She felt like she had won the lottery and all her dreams were coming true. She walked around trying to visualise herself working in there, where her bench would be, and where she would put the machines she would want to have. She found a small storage space under the stairs that would be idea to stash all her things from the house for the time being, and Adam can bring all that in their car.

The first job for Harriet to do, after looking around the workshop, was to varnish the concrete floor and fit some door handles to the internal doors that had been propped open with blocks of wood. Harriet found a broom and carefully swept the dusty concrete floor while waiting for the delivery of varnish, rollers and door hardware. The sweeping was difficult as it just raised more and more dust, so it was slow progress. A vacuum cleaner would be better, and she would have to get one, one with a happy smiling face to keep her company.
Then she got on with the varnishing, pouring the varnish on the floor and spreading it about with a paint roller on a long handle as she worked back towards the door. Once it was all done, and Harriet had locked up, she put the roller into a carrier bag and cycled back home to wash it.

Harriet returned to the workshop after a couple of days, having left the varnish cure properly in the cold. As she opened the door she discovered her first post delivery at the workshop. That was a surprise, who else knew she’d be there today. But as there was some work to be done Harriet put it to one side and got on with fitting the door handles.
Then Robbie arrived with Harriet’s workbench in his van. They carried it into the workshop where Harriet decided where to place it. After Robbie left Harriet remembered the post. On opening it she found it was a Valentines note card and a packet of Haribo Star Mix. Ahh, only one person calls her ‘Haribo’, that must be Adam, as a welcoming present. Given no one else would be sending Harriet any Valentines cards this year, it was a nice thought. Adam had first called Harriet ‘Haribo’ when they discovered the sweets as kids, and still used it as a term of endearment every now and again, and a bag of sweets would arrive for Christmas and birthdays. It had been a while since the last time, Marie didn’t like it, so it made the treat even more special.

Monty Dog

A grey, white, and brown needle felted dog looking slightly shocked.


No food again today.

The food bowl is only taste and smell, but no nourishment. Even water is scarce and I can only lap the wet that falls the sky.

The Leader has come out of the den to open the kah.

Hear words, ‘In, now’.

I jump into the kah. Maybe we will find food.

We travel in the kah a long time. Now we stop. The Leader opens the door and I get out to check our bearings and mark the route. I am not finished, the kah has run away, taking my pack Leader with it. I must chase it. I called the pack name, ‘woof woof’ though I know calling it brings hurt. The kah does not stop running. It is too fast and now too far to hear me. I call again anyway, ‘woof woof’!

I don’t know why the kah didn’t wait. It always waited, but maybe I took too long. I am very hungry. I must find home but the smells are strange here and I am too tired and weak to search well. I must find a food bowl somewhere while it is still light.

Darkness and still no food, only many kahs running fast on the hard. I shall need to find somewhere safe to rest. There is lots of green. I shall hide and rest there.
I have slept. Now I must find food. And find home.

There is food! I found a smell in a big box. It is difficult to reach but there is food, only a little in a soft bowl, but smells so tasty. I pull the soft bowl out of the big box. There are bones, only small so I crunch them. I lick the taste from the soft bowl. It shames me but the taste makes me more hungry, I rip the bowl and eat that too. And now I am thirsty. The green is damp so I lap at some of it and eat some of the damp green. I find it is easier to lap the damp from my paws as I walk.
Darkness. I empty myself and sleep in the green.

I still don’t know where my pack is. I know I should try to find them but their smell is so faint now that I can’t tell which way to go. Mostly I go where I can smell food.
I am following the kahs on the hard. I think it might lead to the kah with my pack, but also there is sometimes food on the hard too. I eat everything I can find even though it makes me hurt inside.
Mostly the food is just smell and taste in soft bowls so I just rip and eat them.
Darkness, so I sleep in the green where the kahs are not.

I wake and empty myself, and keep walking. I follow the kahs. There is no more green, a band of hard that the kahs run on blocks my walk. I will need to cross but the kahs run faster then I can. I will try and run with them until I find the green on the other side.

Run, run, run.

I am hurt. A big kah attacked me and bite me hard, my leg doesn’t walk now. I need to hide in case it finds me again. At least there is green to hide in.
Stay quiet. No more kah bite. No more kah hurt. Wait until darkness.
I lap at my leg and taste the blood. It makes me hungry but my leg won’t walk so I cannot find food.

I hurt. I sleep.


“….oh yes, and there was that dog! Poor thing! I hope it is ok.” Tom was saying to the others as they sat down to lunch.

“What dog is that?” Steve asked, as he and Daisy came in from their round.

“Dunno, it shot off so fast we didn’t get a chance to get a good look at it. Medium sized mongrel?” Linda added. “We did stop to look for it, but no joy.”

“What are you chasing dogs for?”

“Oh, yeah, well… It was hit by a van near the ring road ramp, you know, near Therry Road station.” Tom continued. “We heard the van screech and then saw this dog running off on three legs…”

“Oh god, that’s horrible!” Daisy looked anguished at the thought.

“It was dragging one leg as it ran. The van just carried on up the ramp…”

“Bastard!” Said Steve.

“Yeah, we parked up the trike where it was and went off looking, but all the houses there have front and back gardens, and the ring road verge. We couldn’t see it anywhere. We’re hoping it lives there and had a home to go back to for help….”

“Right, sorry everyone, just a quick team meeting before you all head back out again this afternoon…” Phil had come out of the office looking very flustered and concerned, and keen to fit in an impromptu meeting. “As we are all aware there seems to be a global pandemic starting out there. This Corona Virus, Covid 19, or whatever, thing is spreading and countries are starting to quarantine and lock down their cities to prevent people moving about. I can see that happening here soon, I don’t know when, but if the Government are talking about herd immunity then I guess we should prepare for a quarantine lock down like some other countries are doing. I don’t think herd immunity is going to be the right answer and, as your boss, I want to ensure that we are all as safe as we can be.
First thing is, if you think you might have been exposed to it, contact your GP for advice, but stay at home, and we will sort out sick leave. I’d rather we do that, even if you are not sure, then you coming in and spreading it. Also we are getting in some sanitising sprays and there will be a cleaning routine that might help, and we have some masks on order…”

“Do you think we need all that? I mean, I’m not saying you’re over reacting but we don’t have any cases in Theraton, and only a few in the country. It is more the bigger cities and ports overseas isn’t it?” Tom was asking the question others were probably thinking.

“I hear what you are saying, Tom, but I have to admit that I don’t know. I really don’t. But I also don’t want to be caught out and not have some sort of plan in place. The masks and sanitiser, and vinyl gloves are not a big expense, and will get used over time anyway if it all comes to nothing, but in the mean time I need all of you, and the visitors to the centre, to be safe.
We are still open to visitors at the moment, and also taking bookings for the conference room, but if we follow what the rest of the world is doing then we will have to close for a while. We have had a few longer term cancellations already as people just don’t know what will happen in the next few months.

“I am thinking that we should all work on the hygiene thing, hand washing, not touching stuff more then we need to, cleaning surfaces, etc. I want the recycling team to wear masks and gloves at all times. At. All. Times. Just in case, and take sanitising spray to spray the recycling boxes before you pick them up and after you put them back…
I know, I know, but it is a precaution for now and we’ll have to see what happens and if it is too much and turns out to be unnecessary, well that would be ideal, or God forbid, I need to worry that it might not be enough!

“I don’t want any of you getting sick, or spreading any contamination from the residents as you do your job.
And, as I say, if it all comes to nothing, then at least it didn’t cost much, but on the other hand… Well, it doesn’t bare thinking about.

“I know it is going to be weird for a while, but better safe then sorry. We’ll see how it goes next month.
Can the recycling team each grab some masks and a spray bottle each and keep them with you at all times and use them. I don’t know how much you need, but if it is not enough we can order in some more.
Any questions, come and see me and I will try to answer as best as I can. Be safe everyone. I’ll email Ann and update her too. Thank you for your time and your understanding.” With that Phil returned to his office looking more then a little stressed and with a great weight on his shoulders.

Daisy looked at Steve, Tom, and Linda. “I guess we’d better get kitted up then, do we get spray bottle holsters? Does Phil mean we need to wear the mask at all times, or just when there are people about?”

“I dunno.” Linda replied, “Outside may area of expertise. I am guessing we go the whole hog until we know otherwise. We can see how it goes this afternoon, and if it isn’t practical we can ask Phil for suggestions. I cycle in a mask anyway, so I can’t see that being much different. Do I wear both masks together?”

The shift continued as normal with the addition of masks and spray bottles. Recycling boxes were sprayed, before and after collection, just to be safe, along with garden gates, and access doors. It slowed down the job a lot, and Daisy felt a bit odd with a mask on but decided all in all it probably wasn’t any worse then wearing some designer nonsense in a photo shoot! Besides, it kept her face warm.

(Chapter 23 here)
(Chapter 25 here)

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