Resting Place

Edward, a resting actor, has hoped for better things than his last role playing Buttons in the Christmas Show the end of Cromer Pier. He’s penniless and wonders if he’ll ever work again. ‘Gathering’ in front of his bathroom mirror, he intones, Age cannot wither her, Nor custom … Oh, shit! I can’t face Universal Credit. Every day, in his dingy rented flat, he searches opportunities in The Stage and on-line. 

His phone pings. There’s a message from his mother, alerting him to an advertisement in ‘The Lady’ – Ornamental Garden Hermit required. The accompanying photographs of the landscaped estate and mansion are beautiful. He applies and, to his astonishment, is offered an interview. 

The estate’s owner, Estaban Stanislaus, is an American, perfectly exemplifying the Zuckerberg robotic look, with monk-like tonsure and machine-like emotionless speech. 

Okay, Eddie. Let’s just reprise your role. You’ll be dressed as a Druid – costume supplied. I‘ll supply your food and booze just as if you’re in a hotel and my people’ll collect your laundry. You get five thousand US a month. Webcams will display your hermitude on the Internet but there are no microphones. 

It’s a non-speaking role? 

Correct. 

Why do you want an ornamental garden hermit?

When you’ve bought everything you ever thought of, what then? They really did have one here in the eighteenth century; it’s the cherry on the cake of pointless conspicuous consumption, awesome. I may walk down with friends but mostly we’ll watch on-line. 

The Grotto has two parts. The original, public facing grotto, has been meticulously renovated. The new private rear is commodious. The movement sensitive webcams only operate at the front. 

At the barred entrance gate Edward asks, Is this the only way in and out?

Always locked, except when you take deliveries. You’ll be safe. 

Why do I need to be safe?

In the sticks anything can happen.

Do I get a key?

No. If you got fed up and ran off I’d look stupid.

What do I do? Edward asks.

Act Druid. 

What happens if I’m ill?

There’s an emergency button in your bedroom.

Can I use my mobile?

There’s no signal in the grotto.

Is there TV?

For sure. You up for it?

Edward watches Covid-19 unfold on the TV. I’m lucky to be shielded, he thinks. Great food. Superb wines. No furlough for me. Money in the bank. I made it!

Estaban doesn’t visit and Edward wonders how his performance is being received. 

After eleven weeks his food order isn’t delivered. There’s no response to the emergency button. At the gate he repeatedly screams, Help! 

Five days later, kneeling at the gate, he begs, Help. Let me out! Please.

Slumped in an armchair in the lounge, watching the news, he sips water from a glass. 

‘The cause of death of the eccentric millionaire Estaban Stanislaus has been established as Covid-19.’

At the gate he finally tries the handle. It opens. I thought it was locked, idiot, he whispers. Too weak to move, he collapses. 


I hope you enjoyed this story.  Remember, I publish a new story every Sunday.
Please feel free to pass them on to others you know who may be interested.
You can read previous stories from “Behind the Plague Door” here >>>More

© Phil Cosker 2020
Phil Cosker has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs & Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work. All rights reserved; no part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted by any mean, electronic, mechanical, photocopying or otherwise without the prior permission of the author.


The Plague

It’s 2020 and Covid-19 is in full spate. The UK is under lockdown. Government policy is to prevent the spread of the disease, reduce the death rate and preserve the NHS. It’s a shambles.

Chris and Jack are in their early seventies.
Chris answers his phone. Hello. Who’s that?
I’m Jack. I was asked to give you a call. I’m an NHS volunteer.
I don’t do cold calls. Who asked you to call?
Your GP. She said you had a problem.
What’s her name? Chris asks.
Doctor Summer.
That’s her.
What’s the problem? Jack asks.
I’ve got the plague. 
Okay …. And you’re self-isolating because of that?
That’s it.
Why are you calling it the plague?
That’s what it is.
Why plague?
It’s killing people all over the world – it’s a paramedic.
You mean pandemic.
That’s it, a pandemic – plague. 
Coronavirus? Jack asks.
One Christmas, I was fourteen, I sold Corona pop from a lorry; the bottles were in wooden crates. I loved it, and now it’s a fucking plague.
It’s not a plague. They stopped in the middle ages.
What about tombola?
Jack stifles a laugh. Ebola?
That’s the fella; if that wasn’t a plague what was it?
A viral disease. Are you ill?
Of course I’m ill. 
I was told you needed help  – come on, what help do you need?
You sound, irritated, stressed. What’s up? Chris asks.
Silence.
What is it?
She died. I’m only doing this to talk, Jack sobs.
Don’t do that. You’ll have me at it in a minute … you’re alone?
Stifling his sobs, Jack replies, Yes. No, I have her moggies.
Do they talk to you? 
They purr back.
What are their names?
Sonny and Cher.
Chris sings, ‘cause you got me, And baby I got you. Babe, I got you babe. 
Stop! Please. Why are you singing?
Because you’re lonely, just like me.
I’m okay now, Jack says. Sorry. What help do you need?
I’m afraid.
Tell me why?
I don’t want to die on my own.
How do you know you’re dying?
I’ve been told. Chris sings, Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away, Oh, I believe in yesterday. 
Can’t go back, though, can we?
Why were you crying? Chris asks.
I loved her.
I’m sorry, mate.
No, no, no … Why do you call it the plague?
I liked selling Corona, I don’t want a bloody virus killing my memory. 
Yeah, I get that. You sing.
I’m crap.
Want to try a duet?
Yeah, why not? What shall we sing?
Sweet, sweet the memories …
Perfect. You start I’ll follow.

They sing. Take one fresh and tender kiss, Add one stolen night of bliss, One girl; One boy; some grief; some joy; Memories are made of this.

They are lost in laughter.

Sing again tomorrow? Same time, same place? Chris asks.
You betcha – you choose tomorrow.
I’m glad you called, Jack.
Me too. Jack laughs. Fuck the plague!

They sing. Sweet, sweet, the memories …


I hope you enjoyed this story.  Remember, I publish a new story every Sunday.
Please feel free to pass them on to others you know who may be interested.
You can read previous stories from “Behind the Plague Door” here >>>More

© Phil Cosker 2020
Phil Cosker has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs & Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work. All rights reserved; no part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted by any mean, electronic, mechanical, photocopying or otherwise without the prior permission of the author.


No longer shielded from Covid 19

I was diagnosed with metastatic prostate cancer on January 25th this year and have been self-isolating since the start of the pandemic. 

I had one session of chemotherapy before we halted that treatment because of the risk of having a wrecked immune system in the face of Covid19.

Since then I’ve been having oral treatment organised through the excellent Nottingham University City Hospital’s Oncology Department.

Last Friday May 29th I received two letters: one from my GP’s surgery and one from the hospital. They both said the same thing. I was now being defined as in need of shielding and accompanied with a full list of instructions and a link to the web site.

It is now Monday June 1st and I’m no longer ‘shielded’. 

I’m very happy not to be so classified. 

BUT. 

This trivial bureaucratic idiocy is emblematic of the total incompetence and mendaciousness of this terrible government led by Dominic Cummings and his deputy, the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson.

I am desperate to be ‘shielded’ from the both of them and their government.

© Phil Cosker 01.06.2020

A lucky escape – a true story

An article by Linda Rodriguez McRobbie in yesterday’s Guardian newspaper (Tuesday 26th May 2020) shocked me. To be more accurate the photograph on the cover of ‘The Long Read’ shocked me. It’s of a man, Paul Alexander, who “When he was six contracted polio and was paralysed for life. He is now 74, and one of the few people in the world still using an iron lung.”

I will be 74 in October and I also contracted Poliomyelitis in 1952 when, just like Paul, I was also 6. When I saw the photograph and read the headline I thought, Jesus, that could easily be me. Surprisingly, for the very first time I completely understood how terrified my, long dead, parents must have been. My legs were paralysed but I recovered their use. I suddenly remembered Mum and Dad talking abut me ending up in an iron lung and I had no idea what they were talking about. I suspect I was imagining something a knight on horseback wore to battle. 

Strangely, when I was fully recovered we never ever talked about my polio – I wish we had.

This fine article is not only about Paul but the polio pandemic that happened in the USA in 1952 locating him in the midst of our current Covid19 pandemic. But it isn’t that comparison that got to me but the fact that I had such a lucky escape. I’m not in good health; I’m being treated for advanced prostate cancer. And though this is far from good it’s such a long way from being in an iron lung for the last 68 years. 

Lucky isn’t the word for it!

There is a link to the guardian story HERE>>>