Joanne is in her living room alone. She is working on the sofa in front of her TV (which is on the news channel with the sound just audible. The current news is all about the Coronavirus). She is surrounded with phones and memory sticks and coffee cups and half eaten food. Her computer has multiple tabs open. Stylish middle-class working clutter.
She is busy working on a series of work-based power points. The type of work she has produced many times before. She occasionally glances up to view the news on the TV. This woman is very informed about the current problems.
Her phone pings. She reaches to pick her phone from the table reads the text
The text reads
“Hi Joanne, how are you doing? Everyone this end is doing fine. Mum and dad seem to be behaving sensibly apart from nipping out to the shops. Not sure how they will feel having their travel restricted. Although they lived thought the war so are hopefully used to being told what to do in such time, unlike youngsters today!!! Our worlds have changes forever. Much love to you, xxx”
Once read she turns the sound off from the TV and proceeds to conference call.
Joanne: Hi Love
Tammy: Hi there
Tammy lives in a large house in the London burbs. She is in her stylish but very messy family kitchen. She is sitting at a large table with cookery books and finance magazines, coffee stains and grub.
Joanne: I got your text I figured I’d give you a call. The oldies are used to being in a war zone when they were children, clambering over bomb sites and collecting food from the black market! (they both scoff; they have heard all the stories) How are you doing?
Tammy: We are all ok. I figured if we are on lock down then I will clean the house one room at a time.
(they both know this is unlikely)
Joanne: Well! I decided if I was gonna die then I’d better get rid of lots of old crap I don’t need. So, I’ve been shredding old documents… you know, paid bills, bank statements, old bank accounts….
Tammy: Good idea, we did that last year.
Joanne: Yeah, I figured it was better that I did it than leave it for my brother to rifle through. I just got rid of everything that is not current or necessary.
Tammy: Not that you’re being morbid or anything
Joanne: I am never morbid, always pragmatic. (wistfully) I used to sit in graveyards when I was younger and wonder what it was like to die.
Tammy: (bemused) Gruesome trait that!
Joanne: (indignant) It was gothic! (emphatically) And decidedly trendy!
(Some eye rolling is going on with Tammy.)
Joanne: (gently) But is useful to consider death, I mean… no one knows when we will die anyway. (flippant) Only the Cyclops knows that.
Tammy: (heard it all before) I am surprised you’re not married to that Cyclops by now… the amount of times you have mentioned him and his death wishing.
(They both giggle at this silly in joke.)
(Joanne picks at the half-eaten food in front of her)
Tammy: (seriously) We updated our Will (legal document) last year. So, if one of us passes-away, the kids get half to share between them, and the other half of the estate goes to the remaining partner. We felt it important to make sure whoever we marry next doesn’t get it all.
Joanne: Yeah good idea. You are both the marrying type. (emphatically) You will marry again if Thomas dies.
Tammy: (quietly with an edge) No I think once is enough!
Joanne: (knowingly, she has heard this all before) Oh I see.
(pregnant pause; tea is slurped)
Joanne: (changing the subject) So I am guessing your holiday is cancelled.
Tammy: I don’t know if I ever want to go abroad again. I wouldn’t want to be sick abroad and be put in quarantine.
Joanne: (flippant) No it is bad enough throwing up on the ferry!
Tammy: (serious) But can you imagine being stuck on a cruise ship in an inside cabin.
Joanne: In the middle of the ocean in the sunshine surrounded by luxury
Tammy: But you wouldn’t want to socialise or go out of the cabin even.
Joanne: I guess this coronavirus is going to change our behaviour. (thinking) Do you remember when people started contracting HIV in the 80s? When we all got freaked out about having sex. And no one knew how it was contracted.
Tammy: Yes! And there were all those rumours about catching it from toilet seats and kissing.
Joanne: Yeah and when we went to New York and stayed at the YMCA in 1985.
Tammy: Is that the scruffy place where they did a bag search and we had to walk through the metal detector before they would let us in?
Joanne: (scoffing) It was a rough old place. I bet it is worth a fortune now! Remember we were in the kitchen and that man telling us to not walk on the floor in bare feet.
Joanne: Yes, I do. He had a right go at you
Tammy: And for years I thought you could catch HIV by walking barefoot on the kitchen floor. The power of misinformation!
(they both giggle at the memory)
Joanne: But we all got serious about getting blood tests and using condoms. (casting her mind back) I think I’ve had 5 tests for HIV now.
Tammy: (cringing) Well I knew there was some reason to stay married.
Joanne: (ignoring the slur) But they did find ways to slow the progression of HIV to AIDS and the death rate slowed. And people manage their symptoms now.
Tammy: Yeah true, but we lost a generation of fabulous people who passed whilst medical scientists were figuring it out.
(thoughtful pause and sighing as they think of Freddy Mercury)
Joanne: (sigh) Well this virus has just started, and we are finding out bits of information. But the Medics are still figuring it out. Hopefully by the end of this quarantine some medical solution will be found.
Tammy: (considered) I think a vaccine will be found. But I do think this period will change many things in whatever way, and life and we know it will shift. But we will carry on.
Joanne: We will, but with a few less fabulous souls.
Tammy: (the crack of worry shows through) I am worried about the oldies.
Joanne: The oldies are in their 80s, and they are doing well considering their age. There is nothing we can do other than hope they stay in and don’t do anything daft.
Tammy: (disclosing) Dad can’t walk far anyway and between you and me I think mum is losing her marbles.
(they look at each other, this is news to Joanne she takes a moment to absorb this information)
Joanne: My mum said if she had to go then this might be a better way than some prolonged and painful illness.
Tammy: Oh no she can’t mean that!
Joanne: Well I thought she had a point.
(Pause, then they are interrupted by a ping of a message, Joanne pick up her phone and a look of incredulous crosses her face)
Joanne: (In horror) Oh gawd! I’ve just got some random message. Listen to this….
(Reading) ‘Send me a pic’.
Tammy: What? A pic of what? Who sent that?
Joanne: (reading badly) Lorenzo Gomez
Tammy: (demanding) Who is he?
Joanne: Who is he indeed! (annoyed) What on earth makes men think they can just message and start demanding photos. This is the behaviour that needs to change, this right here!
(Determined and fiddling with phone) I am gonna send him a pic that will make him wish he never asked for one.
Tammy: (laughing) Stop it!
(They both shake their heads and continue to chat to fade)