Aunt Sheila’s Pandemic Diary by Sheila Patel

by | Feb 11, 2021 | Author | 0 comments

Thank you, Author’s Lounge, for having me on your show, the world has become virtual so let’s pretend I’m on your show, in a fabulous gold dress, red lippy and I’ve had my hair done! As you can see, lockdown madness is starting to show.

I would like to share with you my latest short story, ‘Aunt Sheila’s Pandemic Diary’. Previously, I have written short stories to form the ‘The Magic Vodka Wardrobe’ series, basically Narnia with a vodka bar and a Sikh barman. One of the crazier characters is Aunt Sheila, so my latest addition is based on Aunt Sheila keeping a daily diary from the Wuhan outbreak of the virus to the UK lockdown and the start of the BLM movement. It’s very short and includes a free copy of Book 5 from the ‘Vodka Wardrobe’ series. A bit about the book, I think this 5 Star Review says it all.

‘A new literary sub-genre has emerged this year – the COVID diary. Fans of Ms Patel will not be disappointed by her take on the scourge which has fallen on the planet. Written in her familiar trademark style (Northern British/Indian fusion with a dash of Graham Masala), it’s full of great comedic moments arising from the author’s astute, laconic observations of human behaviour as manifested by the inhabitants of that mysterious dot on the globe, the Singh’s corner shop and surrounding estate in Bradford.

But there’s something different about this vignette, a little more sepia round the edges which I found added to its impact.

As usual the author takes us through the news headlines and the reactions of the population. First up, hygiene mania. ‘Cleaned, bleached and dettoled the whole house’… ‘found six paper tissues up my sleeve today.’

Coping strategies emerge as families are forced out of the pub and into isolation: boxsets, puzzles, live pub quizzes and prosecco. Mad Martha stands outside George Lucas’s house to shout a question: how can she get Disney Plus for free? ‘The whole estate was waiting for the answer.’

As the economy slows, a dishy saviour appears, with a money-tree. ‘There’s a new chancellor, he’s Indian, wears nice suits and has a side parting. He’s very generous so can’t be a true Indian’. The usual suspects are quick to latch on to the chance of making an easy buck. Bus driver Tattoo Tony wants to know how to claim universal credit, sick pay and furlough all at once, even though he’s an essential worker with no right to any.

But there’s an occasional melancholic note to the writing, which gives it more of an ‘Adrian Mole’ feel; interspersed with the humour are comments which reflect the underlying seriousness of the situation.

‘Woke up to hear that Boris is positive! We are screwed.’

‘21 April: Thinking about starting a 1000-piece jigsaw of five cats sitting on a bookcase. 22 April: Decided against the 1000-piece jigsaw of five cats sitting on a bookcase.’

‘Switched off my phone and went back to bed. Decided not to follow the science today.’

‘Me Shaz and Trace did a pub crawl around all the closed pubs. Took selfies and cried.’

The wardrobe, once the scene of outrageous hi-jinks, has lost its mojo. Plans to ‘try on our old cool clobber and paint our faces’ under the glitterball fall flat. ‘We decided to watch Tiger King in our pyjamas instead.’

Could the man from Sky news who predicted ‘the country (would) seriously go do-lally’ have a point?

Looking up wistfully to the sky where Elon Musk’s Space X capsule has docked at the ISS, Auntie Sheila observes: ‘I think it’s the safest place to be right now.’

It’s this blend of comic and sad which makes us aware of the author’s humanity; underneath the satire is a genuine affection and concern for her characters. Grab a copy and find out for yourself…’

I, Sheila Patel, am now working on a follow up to the Diary called ‘The Vaccine Strikes Back’, it should be ready in the summer… now please go get a jab!

Please follow me on Twitter @VodkaWardrobe

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