Postcards. Images on cardboard. Costing how much? It's ages since I bought a postcard. 40P maybe? I guess the shops who sell postcards are all closed amyway. Which makes how much they cost rather academic.
A postcard sends a clear message. This is where I am. This is what it looks like. Not bad, eh?
The views out of my van window over the last couple of weeks have been absolutley postcard ready. The sun has shone and the land has finally dried out. Spring is round the corner and the vast emptiness of South West Scotland is quietly exploding into its springtime beauty.
Just like it has for Christ alone knows how many millions of years.
Except this year the beauty is a different beauty. A strange beauty. A kind of post nuclear beauty of empty streets. Ghost villages. Wrap around silence. Nature everywhere and barely a person to be seen.
As someone who is spending his days out on the road in my shiny hired Ford tranny van from Arnold Clark, I can certainly report the lockdown is being observed by the good folk of Dumfries and Galloway. The world is emptied out. The world is like I have never seen it before.
The world is strange.
And these are the pictures which will stay with me in the years to come. Assuming there are years to come! As a sixty year old guy with forty years worth of chain smoking under my belt, assuming years to come might just be a tad over confident.
As WB Yeats once upon a time said, everything has changed: changed utterly.
A mere three weeks ago I could log onto the Tesco page and order up £500 worth of food which would duly be delivered the next day. A mere three weeks ago a convoy of cars from local churches would land up at our back door on a Monday morning bearing carrier bags of food donations.
Those were the days, right? The days when buying a pack of toilet rolls wasn't a thing to be celebrated on Facebook.
Last week I got hold of a local egg producer on the phone. Could First Base buy 100 dozen eggs a week? I nearly fell off my chair when he said yes, nae bother pal. If I was a punching the air kind of guy, I would have punched the air. A sign of the times. Downright giddy to have secured a weekly supply of eggs.
A day later I got a call from a local business man. A family business with a showroom. He has been supporting us with a monthly standing order for years. Now the business is on lockdown and he is climbing the walls with boredom. Come on Mark, there must be something I can do. I'm a man with a van and an itch to get pitched in.
I gave him an unexpected project to crack on with. Hit the phonelines and find a local potato wholesaler and buy a tonne of spuds on out behalf. Have you got any storage at your place? Yeah, we have storage. Could you pick up the tatties, store them and wheel them into us as and when we need them? Nae bother.
Sixteen hours later he was back. Mission accomplished. Once tonne of Scottish spuds for £280. Collected, bagged and stored. Mission accomplished by a man in search of a mission. And yet again I was assailed by the unfamiliar urge to punch the air.
Things don't tend to get emotional at First Base. Iain and Kevin fill the hours with blacker than black humour learnt from long years in the British Army. Jason looks on with his trademark wry grin. They are guys who are well used to getting things done with minimum fuss. Kevin has morphed into Mr Deliveroo as he dodges around town dropping off parcels.
And let's face it, I'm not exactly a touchy feely guy myself. But sometimes the lump hits the throat no matter how I try to be hard bitten. Like when I picked up a call from Manchester with a frantic voice on the other end. A daughter with elderly parents living in isolation amidst the emptiness of Galloway. No supermarket deliveries available and cupboards starting to empty out. They were frightened at the idea of being forced to venture out, but it looked more and more like they would have to. I told her not to worry. I told her we would deliver later in the day. I told her there was no need to worry any more. I promised her First Base had their backs. We would make sure they were alright. This news propmted an explosion of tears. Tears of relief. Tears of drained out tension. Tears of spring 2020.
I took the food in the midst of a late afternoon of watery sunshine and light breeze. Once upon a time it would have been a perfect day for a nest scratching lapwing. But we don't seem to do lapwings any more. Maybe they sensed the strange world which was coming and exited stage left.
The house took a bit of finding and view was jaw dropping. A figure at the door. How much do we owe? Unwilling to accept nothing was owed. Bewildered by the new empty world. Off the scales grateful. And just a little bit tearful. She promised to call if more food was needed. And I am fairly confident she will.
I drove away down the hill and into the late afternoon emptiness. Empty road. Empty hills. Empty sky.
Covid19 Scotland, where people are as hard to spot as lapwings.
Postcards to be filed away. Postcards of a time of strangeness. Postcards of a time when a puchase of a hundred dozen eggs a week left me feeling like punching the air.
Not that I actually DID punch the air.
If this rambling jumble of ungrammatical words by any chance leaves you in the mood to support what First Base are trying to do, you can find our online fundraising page via the link below.