Sep 152020

Lockdown is a very weird time for all of us. My lockdown story begins a week or so before it started: I had recently lost my job, and I was searching – unsuccessfully – for a new one. Even then, the Crisis was beginning to creep up on us.

And then my grandmother Whatsapped me asking me to come and stay with her. She’d been having heart palpitations and feeling weak, and my parents thought that a strong young unemployed grandchild was the perfect candidate to lend her a hand. I’m a dutiful grandchild, so off I went with my laptop, some books and some clothes.

So far, so Little Red Riding Hood. She even has a Big Bad Wolf: his name is Gus. He likes to have balls thrown for him and play tug-o-war with frisbees. He’s more likely to lick my feet than gobble me up; in fact, Granny (whose eyes and ears and teeth are perfectly fine, thank you) has deemed him a complete traitorous creep who barely pays any attention to her except for food.

Then there’s the amusing matter of Mrs. Blackbird. Somehow she has decided to build a nest in Granny’s shed behind the greenhouse; in fact, she has several times flown straight past us to get to it. I was not previously aware that I live in a Disney movie, but apparently I talk to animals now. I’ve also caught myself saying hello to various butterflies, bees, and even the occasional frog that I find in the garden. Next thing you know I’ll be kissing one, and then where will we be? Any prince that emerges will have to contend with the fact that I’m probably not who he was expecting. He’d have to be attracted to men, for a start.

The thing is, I’m not a very good fit for this kind of semi-magical life. I’m not a delightful soprano princess, nor am I a sweet little Red Riding Hood. My name is Neil, although not many people know that about me (I’m transitioning from female to male very slowly indeed). I consider myself lower-middle-class, a man who’s becoming more of the soil and who’s really getting into this gardening stuff. More of a Samwise Gamgee type than a lord, really. Hobbit feet included.

Honestly? I don’t mind that so much. I don’t mind it at all. I’m getting more sun and exercise these days. And perhaps, when everyone in my life knows me as Neil, and when my body takes its rightful shape, I’ll be able to take up the mantle of a fairy tale hero more easily.

Assuming the Big Bad Wolf doesn’t get me first.

I think I’ll just throw him another frisbee…

Neil M

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