I’m entirely sure I’m not author enough for this, but I’m an expert procrastinator and I have university work to be doing. I occasionally write books and do book-things. If you’re procrastinating as hard as I am and want something to do, you can also follow me on twitter @helen_hiorns or check out my facebook page https://www.facebook.com/helenhiornsauthor
Let’s go back in time.
It’s Friday 13th March and an attractive, intelligent and humble woman is hunched over a desk at the office. She’s slightly tired from taking her sister out for a belated birthday meal the night before (which she will later discover is the meal where she may-or-may-not have given half her family coronavirus) and from this very technical mega-forecasting-project (that will become slightly obsolete and tabled for three months around 100 hours from now).
On Fridays, her floor of the office plays music requests during the afternoon and her team is in charge of the theme this week. She has just stumbled across the ‘COVID-19 Quarantine’ playlist on spotify, which at the time feels very, very funny. This turns into a quasi-raucous joke over the desks and in the end she convinces the-person-in-charge to make the theme for this week ‘Current affairs.’
Over her regular Friday lunchtime Thai-Restraurant with friend, he says ‘we should probably make the most of it, because this may be the last Thaiday that we have for a while’. She vaguely regrets how much money she’s spent on eating out this week and definitely believes that next week they will be back in this restaurant, as per, with the waiters guessing their orders mostly-correctly before they’ve looked at the menu.
She gets back to her desk as they start playing the ‘current affairs’ playlist. She listens to half of it, amused at everyone’s slightly off-colour requests, and then remembers that it’s loud, puts her headphones on and works until five.
On a whim, at the end of the day she decides to take her work laptop home. Just in case.
Sixteen hours later, she starts to cough.
Now, twelve weeks later, that same attractive, intelligent, increasingly funny, humble woman finishes another working week from her sofa and remembers, in a moment of odd, slightly hysterical clarity, the songs that she requested to be played the last time she was allowed in the office.
U can’t touch this.
Work From Home.
(I just checked and the playlist has now expanded to include ‘We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together and ‘Kiss Me Thru The Phone’ and ‘All By Myself’ and I stand by the fact that it’s hilarious).
Toilet roll situation: Yup. Have yet to run out of toilet roll.
Pasta stocks: Yup. Also still have pasta. Today I ate my second Asdas ‘extra special’ stuffed sage and butternut squash ravioli of lockdown. Inspired by the mild insanity of having not really left home for the past 83 days (but who’s counting?), I decided to try and make it ‘serve two’. Or, you know, myself twice, given I’m relatively sure I’m still not allowed to share food with people, and Boris (the teddy) doesn’t eat.
As an experiment, I’d say it was a stonking failure. Although I did only eat half of it, by the time it got to 3:30pm I was so hungry that I bought myself a dine in for two (for one; see notes above about Boris not eating) and a pizza meal deal when I popped into M&S after Foodbank. After spending my entire grocery budget on more-than-I-needed-but-not-enough-to-justify-the-cost, I got home and immediately ate the rest of it. At 4pm. For a snack. Plus, now I own two pizzas. I’ve already had a pizza this week and have got another pizza base to make a second.
Is a global pandemic enough justification to eat four pizzas in a week?
Mum’s Top Tip of the last few weeks: On Sunday, I was just merrily going about my lockdown business when my glasses fell apart in my hands. I’m not one of those people who needs glasses ‘a bit’. I’m one of those people where people do that thing where they take your glasses and try them on and go ‘man, your eye sights terrible!!’ (I’ve never really understood the logic of this process) and then wave a hand in front of your face and ask if you can see it.
I really like being able to see things. It’s nice. Ergo, glasses breaking — not ideal.
So, here I am, a bit stressed, wearing my sunglasses inside, trying to look up what the deal is with opticians in the middle of a pandemic, trying to use those tiny screwdrivers that come out of Christmas crackers to do some kind of repair job (while wearing sunglasses). I put a picture of my poor, sad glasses on the family whatsapp, seeking comfort and sympathy, and then ask for suggestions about where past-Helen might have kept her old glasses.
My mother is the first to reply.
Have you tried looking under that pile of things on the floor.
(I wasn’t sure which pile of things on the floor she was talking about, but I did look, and they weren’t there).
Side note: I wouldn’t recommend breaking your glasses during a pandemic. It really is a complete pain in the ass, especially if you got your glasses from a place that isn’t open in the city you live in during the pandemic (it’s not just my mother that offers a stunning lack of sympathy in my time of need. As I was stressing at a friend about Boots being shut and my fear of being left blind and bereft of sight she just goes, totally deadpan, ‘you should have gone to Specsavers’). In the end, I did go to Specsavers — by appointment to enter the store only — and they took pity on me and gave me an eye test so I didn’t have to spend £200 on a pair of glasses with an out of date prescription. Still, trying on glasses with someone wearing a full face guard who has to disinfect everything you touch, when there’s a guy waiting outside for you to be done so he can come into the shop, is worse than the experience that trying on glasses when you can’t see what they look like because you’re not wearing glasses is normally. Also, everyone makes jokes about Banard Castle. Now, my glasses are on order and I’m rocking the Harry Potter sello-taped look.
Back in March, when the government announced that, if you had symptoms, you had to stay at home for 14 days and I sobbed like a baby (before I read the clearer, written down version of this and concluded that as a solo-isolator I was free after 7). Given that now, months later, I haven’t gone further from my home than the Foodbank (around 3 miles) for 12 weeks…. This feels like a really serious overreaction. I recently filled in work’s ‘back to the office’ survey to say that I am happy to work from home indefinitely and actively want to stay working from home three days a week forever. I am very, very close to have my first home-grown tomatoes and, just this week, finally, after 11 weeks of searching I managed to get fence paint!!!
Obviously, and especially given this was combined with BJ’s recent ‘you can meet in gardens’ announcement, this happened:
Still, I persevered and used the final scrap of sun on Tuesday to paint through my break times, lunch times and as soon as I’d finished work until my fence was finally, finally painted! I started the job approximately last August, before running out of nice weather / paint / motivation. I like to think succumbing to the ‘lockdown home improvements’ makes me officially an adult, even if it’s probably more symptomatic of neglect. Exhausting though. Finished up at 7:30pm and mostly just wanted to go to bed. Persevered through reheating & eating portion six million of my moussaka (official conclusion; moussaka is not worth the effort of cooking even if it’s batch cooked), then ran myself a bath as soon as I had the energy too. Will blame the paint fumes for the fact that I wound up reading Harry Potter in the bath with a glass of wine and a Brownie which was fine, perfectly lovely in fact, until, for unknown reasons, I started reading it out loud. To myself. With voices.
We’ll take this as a good segue.
Things I never thought I would do before lockdown but now seem totally acceptable / fun ways to spend the time:
- Reading Harry Potter, out loud, to myself with voices. Naked. With the window open. (That all sounds a lot weirder without the context that I was in the bath but, you know).
- General gardening related Mania. This includes: watching Youtube videos about gardening, exchanging pictures of plants with beloved bestie who’s also having a gardening themed lockdown-breakdown, getting up in the middle of an awful six-day-migraine purely because I was concerned that my tomatoes hadn’t been watered and I didn’t want them to be sad and apologising, out loud, to my tomatoes one Saturday for not feeding them until past 11am. That one wouldn’t be so bad, really, but for some reason I did it in a broad yorkshire accent. Anyway.
- Being a 26 year old with a paddling pool. Apparently, I talked enough about having a low level jealousy for my sister’s paddling pool enough that she sent one to me in the post (her 3 year old likes all of them to be in the paddling pool, so they upgraded to a larger one that can fit them all in). Last weekend, I set it up in the garden and sat reading with my feet in it, and it was great!! Was so tempted to put on my new swimming costume and sit in it, but in the end I resisted. When it’s warm again, though, I’m totally gonna do that.
- The amount of time I spend with an oversized teddy called Boris. No elaboration needed, I feel.
- Laughing more at the captions on google hangouts than I’ve laughed at anything for weeks. The discovery of the captions on google meet / google hangouts has been a beautiful, beautiful thing, given we use it for work and for church social stuff. Last Sunday evening, we were playing some classic-lockdown games and… I don’t even know what was actually said, but google captioned it as ‘You smell’ and it was so funny and brilliant to be properly laughing from your gut. Would HIGHLY recommended putting it on if you use google.
Especially if it’s a dull meeting.
- Appreciating things like someone making you a drink. Have had a rough few weeks, what with this mega-migraine (don’t have a migraine during lockdown; you can’t look at screens and your whole life is screens and it sucks) so I decided to write down an emotional splurge of all the gritty, crap stuff that I’ve felt at various points during this saga, like jealousy, and self-pity, and restlessness and listlessness. Might share some of it at some point, but one of the things I wrote in my spiels about jealousy was how I had a spark of it every time someone’s spouse / child / housemate bought them a cup of tea while they were on work call. A couple of days after writing ‘God, I just want someone to make me a drink!’ in this overzealous, emotional rant, I had a –socially distanced and outside, of course — lunch with my friend / neighbour and she…. Made me a vanilla iced latte. No one had made me a drink for, like, 11 weeks!! It was delicious.
- Playing Badminton. It’s not actually true that I thought I would never do this, because friend and I have been talking about it for over 3 years. It’s just on the list because it…. It never actually happened until now. However, I totally dug out my old badminton rackets that stain your hands black (good way to tell if you’ve been touching your face) the first day that we were allowed to meet in twos outside. As it turns out, the tennis courts in the local park were still locked up, so instead we played on the grass field. Said grass field is on quite an incline and it was super windy so it was a somewhat unconventional game of badminton, in that you couldn’t really run backwards without risking falling down the hill and the Shuttlecocks randomly changed direction. The next time, we may or may not have gone through the big gaping hole in the fence for the tennis courts and played there, netless. We have big plans for Sunday and rumour has it that the nets are back. Also, we have new Shuttlecocks (mine had a habit of, well, separating into two pieces mid flight, so you didn’t so much have a shuttlecock that you were running after, as a shuttle flying off in one direction and a … well. You get it).
- Accidentally flashing everyone during a video with the church lot due to the world’s largest rip in my pjs. This one doesn’t fall into the ‘seems acceptable after lockdown’ so much. More ‘didn’t see that coming’ although probably I should have.
- Creating a quiz round about obscure animal sex facts for our weekly quiz nights. After this many weeks, I was struggling to come up with anything original and interesting. Reviews said that they felt ‘distrubed and slightly violated’ after completing the quiz, so there we go.
- Turning my weekly shop into an EVENT. Broadly, I guess I mean the mental adjustment where I now consider ‘going to the shop’ to be sufficient activity for the whole day. In my head, I’m now completely convinced that the whole-day is full if you need to go to the shop. Today’s post-foodbank M&S trip is the first time I’ve just casually popped to the shop (and this is just because it’s opposite foodbank), rather than doing serious prep work, writing a list etc. The most notable of these SHOPPING EVENTS probably ties in with my Gardening Mania point above, where I decided that food was overrated and, instead, I was going to use my weekly-shop to go to the Gardening Centre, right after they reopened. I think I forgot that the garden centre is… quite a long way away. Not super-far, but… a good mile and a half. Down a hill. Don’t get me wrong, that’s a totally manageable distance but…. I don’t know if you’ve ever walked a mile and a half up a hill dragging a trolley full of plant pots, plant seeds and plant food, while carrying a tray of actual plants…. It becomes a bit of a journey.
I bought an extra tray in order to rest the plants on and had to hold them steady up the hill. I thought it was going pretty well, but then I got home and looked at one of the flowers and realised that it had been lent against me and…
And that my poor plant had a boob dent.
My poor, March-self had no idea what was coming.
Meanwhile, my June-self is cooking my M&S dine in for two (for one) and listening to ‘Harder to Breathe’. I’m planning to bake scones tomorrow and I’m looking forward to having a couple of friends coming to sit in my garden (biggest social gathering I’ll have been in for 12 weeks, with a staggering 4 people!!), for what I am sure will be a very soggy get together. I am both convinced that we’re easing this lockdown too soon given the current death rates in the UK and completely fed up of it at the same time. I am ready for some semblance of normal, but sort of dreading trying to rectify these things I have learnt about myself with ‘real life’. A lot of the time, I’m enjoying the slower, less chaotic pace of my life, and sometimes I want to throw Boris out the window for being crappy company.
That being said, the new series of Queer Eye came out today, so maybe I’ll cancel those people plans and binge watch Queer Eye in my brand new jogging bottoms (12 weeks in, and finally own proper lounge wear!) instead.
Toilet roll situation: Still own toilet roll. Everyone seems to have calmed down on that front, now, and I’m not quite bored enough to keep counting.
Pasta stocks: Actually bought more pasta yesterday! I hadn’t run out, exactly, because I still have half a pack of lasagne sheets, two packets of spaghetti and half a pack of impractically large pasta. However, this week I made a cauliflower mac and cheese and I had to use the impractically large pasta and it was… well, impractically large. ASDA no longer seems to have a perpetual shortage of pasta, so I didn’t feel too bad about buying some penne for pasta bake type things.
Milk stocks: Removed a initial 300 word milk update here because, even in lockdown, surely no one can be that bored. Cliff notes: I have too much milk.
Mum’s Top Tip of the last few weeks: Had been getting into a bad habit of burning my back every weekend because I am the type of person who cannot go outside in April in England without wearing factor 50 and, also, because I cannot adequately sun cream my back and, due to government advice, no one is allowed to come anywhere near me.
Mum’s suggestion to this was:
Just use a spatula.
(Housemate also suggested the same thing actually)
(Concept of applying suncream to myself with kitchen utensils wasn’t very appealing but Sheffield beloved besties actually fixed this problem by sending me this hilarious and effective lotion applicator. They assure me they put in serious effort not to get this from Age Uk)
Today is 50 days since I came down with the dreaded ‘cough’, which means I’ve now been on lockdown in my house for 50 days (there was the two day stint of freedom, to be fair, but it doesn’t feel like I fully utilised those two days of relative freedom before actual lockdown came upon us, as the guidance was still to avoid unnecessary trips etc.)
This means the grand total of all my mini-exodus from my house since then has been:
- 1 trip to the gardening centre to by plants (pre-lockdown, in that two day freedom stint)
- 1 trip to the supermarket to buy cereal and garlic (pre-lockdown; before the days of weird queuing and one way systems that I think approximately zero people are following)
- 3 (or maybe 4?) trips to the Foodbank to help sort tins (this is literally so exciting. I am allowed to be in a room with OTHER REAL LIFE PEOPLE. I got a note from the Trussell Trust confirming that I am allowed to do the thing and it’s this lovely, surreal pocket of normal in the midst of all this madness)
- 4(??)further trips to the shop(post-lockdown).
- 1 trip to the post office to post housemate some clothes (she packed expecting to go home for a week which somehow turned into 7 weeks with no specific end date. Frankly, I’m surprised she hasn’t asked me to do this more than once). This was actually supposed to be combined with the weekly shop, but the post office opening times on the internet were incorrect, so I was treated to an ENTIRE extra trip. That was a v. Exciting Monday.
- Walks in the park opposite my house. This has been downgraded from daily activity to a most-days activity. If I have another leaving-the-house thing on that day, like going to the shop or foodbank, I’m skipping the walk so as to not over-exert myself. The first Saturday I contemplated trying to fit in going to the shop, going for a walk and weekend quiz night with beloved besties felt like WAYYY too much to fit into one day, which means I may have adjusted to this too well.
To be honest, most of the time I’ve been quite enjoying myself.
As an introverted, indoorsy type with my own home, financial security and lots of good people who live by, I am both very blessed and well setup to deal with this. That’s not to say that I didn’t spend Tuesday completely fed up “at work”, then an evening crying through six episodes of Gilmore Girls (I just can’t deal with Loreali being sad), forgetting to microwave my tacos until 9pm and, somehow, failing to put my bin out even though there’s literally nothing going on. There are bad days.
I really miss hugs. Housemate slightly solved this problem for me by telling me about a giant Teddy she had in a cupboard in a room, so I now have a cuddle buddy. Hugging a giant teddy is, of course, Exactly The Same as hugging a real person (read: it’s really, really not). Unfortunately, he is called Boris.
This was almost enough for me to leave him in his cupboard, but physical contact prevailed. Now, we sometimes watch Netflix together. He has joined me on several video calls, for a picnic in the garden and sometimes we sit and read together.
(I never said I was still sane: just that I have been quite enjoying myself).
When this is over, I am going to visit my parents and hug my mum. I am going to hug my niece and my sister and my brother in law and my beloved besties and my work friends and my church friends. When housemate returns, I am going to hug-attack her and probably cry and it’s going to be brilliant.
On the flip side, turns out I’ve been living at my introvert-maximum for basically my entire life, and it turns out the minimum is a lot lower than anticipated. Current routine is plenty of people for my poor introvert soul (learning that you can still overdose on people when you’re not, actually, allowed to see people was fun) and have absolutely no idea how I would manage to spend an entire working day, plus extra-circulars, in the same building with like hundreds of people, after learning how great it is to not do that.
I miss specific people and specific stuff, rather than general people-and-things. Got sad about missing my holiday and my school friend’s wedding, but not about generally being allowed freedom.
I love hanging out on my own. Took Friday off this week, so Thursday night was my fake-Friday. Ordered myself more Chinese take out than anyone could ever eat (more on this later), drank a couple of beers and started playing Harry Potter Lego years 1-4 on the Wii. Best evening ever. I had such a great time that I accidentally stayed up till 2am cause I didn’t want the evening to end.
I’ve spent most of the last four years living alone and that really works for me. Really love living with my housemate because she’s great (herb gate notwithstanding). If I’ve had a bad day at work, she’ll greet me with a glass of wine and ask if I wanna talk about it or dance it out. She organised the tupperware drawer (I’ve done my best at maintaining it, Grace, but it’s not as good as it was. I’ll fix it before you come home) and she always beats me at Mariokart, but I wasn’t looking for a housemate. It was one of those temporary things that really worked so became pretty permanent, but…
There was this point when I was living in my first solo flat where I was sick of it always being my turn to cook dinner, and wash up, and call the electricity provider, and plan food, and did I mention the damn washing up? It’s so relentless, sometimes, and I got to this place where the idea of having a partner who could be in all of it with me felt kind of appealing. I thought, maybe, I was beginning to understand the appeal of this marriage / relationship lark. Sharing the load with someone. Someone being able to take on that stuff when you’ve had a crappy day and just want to hibernate.
And then it hit me.
I didn’t want another half.
I wanted a dishwasher and to order more take out.
Well, I am now on lockdown with my Dishwasher,a giant teddy who shares a name with our fearless leader (please note this is not a term of endearment; I have no terms of endearment for Boris Johnson) and at least some of the take out places are still open.
Life is (broadly) good (if certainly not ideal).
Lockdown: an extract (day 48 & day 49):
(Featuring my two outings for the week, foodbank & the weekly shop, and a lot more excitement than most of the preceding 47
. There’s a reason I stopped writing these as regularly. As good of a time as I’ve been having, it’s pretty dull to write about. Ha.)
Normally, foodbank is a very tin-centric offering. This leads to great foodbank games such as ‘mystery tin’ (when we get label-less tins that we can’t give out, so someone has to commit to eating whatever is in the tin without knowing what it is) and to great exclaims of horror / surprise when you learn about some of the things that people have chosen to put into a tin (all day breakfast in a tin. Grim, grim grim). At the moment, supermarkets are donating fresh fruit, veg, meat and bread, which massively improves the quality of the food parcel content.
However, they tend to donate the shortest dated things. This is generally fine but it does mean that if we get a load of stuff in on a Friday, we can’t always give said stuff out on time. If it’s out of date, we can’t give it out and it has to be thrown away / claimed by volunteers (normally you can also pick up out of date stuff at your own risk, but at the moment we’re mostly doing deliveries rather than it being a drop in which means this doesn’t really happen).
This week, we had a v. large quantity of bread.
Usually, we start by
forcing encouraging every volunteer to take some bread home. And some for the freezer. If that doesn’t work, we take our food offerings to the flats opposite to see if they want the things and usually that covers it.
Today, they don’t want the bread. There’s about 40 loaves of bread. This is a lot of bread.
After some debate, we stagger (due to shape of crate rather than weight of bread or any mid afternoon drunkenness) across to this other block of flats carrying our crates of bread. These, however, don’t have a nice reception and shared entrance, but…. Individual doors to individual flats. By some brilliant divine luck, we accost a man (from 2m away) who is returning home from his shopping and tell him we’re trying to give away lots of bread. As it turns out, he works at one of the other foodbanks and is happy to let us in the building. He takes ten loaves of bread up to the seventh floor to distribute and we decide to start on floor six.
It’s only after the lift doors open that I remember that I am really, really scared of heights. It’s one of those things I forget about, generally, until I’m in any shopping centre ever and they have all those glass walls and death defying drops (of , you know, one or two floors), and wind up having to grit my teeth and walk slap bang in the middle of the bridge / floor or press myself against the shop entrances to avoid the edge . These flats have tiny, person-wide balconies with gaps at the bottom. Don’t actually get as far as being able to see the drop because the fear-reminder kicks in the second I step away from the lift and remember what these flats look like.
We decide I will guard the bread. Do not move for the next ten / fifteen minutes, while friend attempts bread distribution.
(It’s also worth noting that knocking on people’s doors who I don’t know is actually my idea of the seventh circle of hell. The fear of heights is absolutely real, but please don’t think that I actually wanted to do this anyway).
Third member of our party is at the bottom and occasionally yells ‘hows it going’ from the car park.
No answer at the first flat. Second flat only eats brown bread. Third flat is a man who has just had throat surgery and cannot, in fact, eat bread. Or solid food. Fourth flat is confused. At this point, man from first flat has come to his door. Friend hurries back down to the corridor in his direction.
As it turns out, the man was in the shower when we knocked. In my head, he came to the door in a very sparing towel to have the subsequent bread-conversation, but didn’t actually ask and couldn’t see. For the purpose of a good story, man is mostly naked and still has shampoo in his hair and is gluten free and mortally offended by us offering bread (the last part definitely isn’t true).
We get back into the lift with almost the same amount of bread we had in the first place.
I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to give out free bread during a pandemic, but it’s quite tricky. Jesus certainly never had this problem when he gave out bread.
Go to the ground floor and prop open the door with our bread crate. Text my street whatsapp and everyone I know who lives locally to see if they want any bread. Friend now talking to a man who answered the door in his underwear (or shorts that look a lot like underwear) who sounds drunk. It’s quite a long conversation and it doesn’t involve bread acceptance. We accost (from 2m away) a woman coming out of a taxi and ask if she wants bread. We manage to talk one guy into taking two loaves.
In the end, we don’t do badly. I wind up with five loaves and a packet of bed buns, but these are largely going to my neighbours.
Am very happy to return to social distancing in my house.
Leave some bread on people’s door steps, play some HP lego wii, eat leftover Chinese food, call school friend for a bit and drink wine. Another top evening.
Am hanging out laundry pre-shop when neighbour waves at me over the fence and says the words that nobody, nobody, ever wants to hear.
There’s a dead bird in your front garden.
She is not wrong.
The bird is very dead and it is very much splayed out on my garden path.
Okay. Confession time.
I am a vegetarian, but not because I find the concept of eating animals repulsive or because I don’t like meat. It’s an environmental thing. I believe that everyone should eat less meat but I cannot control everyone (shame) so, after years of half-assing meat reduction, I actually committed a couple of years back. The first year I still ate meat at Christmas, but I haven’t in subsequent years. Generally, I don’t miss meat. I think it’s made me a better cook and I like vegetables and the fake meat industry has really stepped up it’s game recently, so it’s all good.
It started with Chorizo, three weeks into lockdown.
Chorizo is delicious. Once found this fake chorizo from Iceland that kinda tasted the same as real chorizo, except a lot less good (like hugging a giant teddy instead of a real hug. Better than nothing, sure, but not really the same thing), but they don’t sell it anymore. Started thinking about Chorizo. A lot. Accidentally planned what I’d eat with it. Could almost taste it and, also, was locked in my house, alone, indefinitely, and the world was probably ending anyway, so why not?
Put it on top of my veggie burger. It was so good I nearly cried. And then I felt very sick, but after I pushed past that it was just delicious again. Paella. Cooked with sweet peppers and butternut squash in wraps. In scrambled eggs. Just on it’s own. Ate it all much quicker than I intended and then it was gone and I was done, back on the bandwagon, committed to my personal ethics.
And then….. I was ordering chinese take out on Fake-Friday and I remembered how much I love lemon chicken.
(Incidentally, I once went to China with my dad when I ate meat about once a week. We were on a group tour and they said they couldn’t cater for vegetarians, so I put myself down to have veggie food on the plane so at least I could make a token nod. Didn’t realise they’d passed this information on to the whole tour and had actually been catering for me the whole time because all the meals were big communal type things. Only realised this on the penultimate day, when the tour guide comes to check if I have enough veggie food. Look up from my massive plate of lemon chicken and say ‘… yes. There’s plenty thanks.’)
There’s a dead bird in your front garden.
Feel somewhat attacked by the universe. This is intensified by the fact that I found the remaining lemon sauce up turned in fridge this morning, so spent a great deal of time de-sticky-ing the fridge.
I don’t want to deal with the dead bird.
Have similar feeling to that one I had at my old flat. Maybe going it solo isn’t the best option, because then when something pointedly dies in your garden to remind you of your immoral chinese food order, you have to get rid of yourself.
Fall back on my time old method of avoiding the situation for the time being: avoidance.
Use neighbour’s path to leave house rather than mine to give the bird a wide birth, then set out on Exciting Trip To the Shop.
Have one final loaf of bread to deliver from yesterday so have to go via the street opposite. Know the friend who wants the bread lives either directly to the left or the right of two of my good friends. He hasn’t seen my message asking which house number is which, so ring the doorbell to friends instead to confirm.
Friends come to the door and confirms which house wants the bread.
We chat a bit (from 2m away). I tell them about my dead bird and tell them more about the bread surplus (they already turned down extra bread yesterday). Dressed for the weather that was happening in my conservatory rather than the weather that was happening outside (occupational hazard), so am already cold and debating nipping back home. Instead, friend offers his coat, I think largely for the amusement factor. Am cold, though, so accept coat (he throws it from 2m away; we’re fine), and head to the supermarket in a men’s coat that’s much too big for me, with my mildly comedic little wheely shopping trolley.
Call housemate while I’m in the queue. Tell her about the coat-and-trolly combo, the bread surplus and the dead bird. Impulse buy a blackberry plant, but knock it over the second I get through the doors of asda and tip a significant amount of soil on the way home.
Stop outside friends’ on the way home to return coat.
We talk v. briefly about the queues at asda and what not and then non-coat-lending-friends says something that every person who has a dead bird on their front path wants to hear.
Don’t you want to get [other friend] to go sort out the dead bird for you?
Look to other friend. He shrugs and confirms that he would not, in fact, mind bird disposal. Feel somewhat bad, but this is definitely outweighed by the great, deep, significant desire to not have to pick up the dead bird myself.
Exercise very proper social distancing measures by staying very, very far away while he picks up the dead bird (with the appropriate accompanying joke about picking up birds) and solemnly swear that I will never, ever order chicken again.
Later, win remote pub- quiz with two out of three beloved besties and then we play ‘remote insensitivity’ (Cards Against Humanity). Bestie has added our own customer cards, including ‘killing your whole family on day 3 of lockdown’ and ‘injecting bleach’ and ‘the middle classes baking banana bread’ and it is so brilliant and fun that we play through the whole deck.
Conclude that I was right before. All set just as is. Dishwasher, (chicken-free) take out, friends.
10 things that I have achieved in the past 50 days:
- Work & work stuffs. I guess this isn’t lockdown specific, but I still think I should get some kudos for (mostly) getting dressed and (mostly) dragging myself to my little study and (mostly) being somewhat productive most days of the week.
- 1.5 paint by numbers. Probably can’t get another one, now, because most of them are sold out due to the collective, mass boredom I think people who had the hobby before lockdown should have priority over people who are just taking up things (although, of course, this would preclude me from buying any gardening things), because they won’t appreciate them like I would.
- Built, disassembled, and returned the entire Harry Potter Lego collection to the loft.
- Read 11 books. In a week. Whoops.
- Finished reading Luke’s gospel, Leviticus and Deuteronomy. So fed up of Moses that I was almost pleased when he went up to the mountain to die (sorry, god, I don’t mean that. Moses was a top bloke. Real stand up chap.)
- Maintained interest in garden for over a month, including mowing lawn twice (!!!)
- Won weekly remote pub quiz with beloved besties 4 times
- Finally put sofas back to where they’re supposed to be when the Christmas tree isn’t up
- Finished Harry Potter Lego Wii years 1-4 to 63.2% This doesn’t sound very impressive, but I started on Thursday. Just give me a couple more days.
- And, of course, the biggest achievement of the year: I found the shed key
10 things that I have not achieved in the past 50 days:
- Pairing socks (sorry, Mum. We did a sweepstakes and the earliest date we thought this would happen was November. If we’re still in lockdown in Nov, maybe I’ll do it then)
- Locating and purchasing fence paint, although significant efforts have been made to this end. It is really, really hard to by fence paint.
- Hoovering the stairs. Who cares? Honestly, it’s not like it affects anyone else.
- Finding a number for Ryanair that I can ring to get them to change our travel credit into actual bank credit
- Creating a new routine centered around fitness, wellness and meditation that will transform my life for years to come.
- Going to bed when my phone tells me to go to bed (again; not lockdown specific)
- Being on time to Church
- Being on time for work (except that night with the insomnia where I was, in fact, an hour and a half early)
- Being on time for social activities
- Discovering the identity of my mystery milkmen
Toilet roll situation: still on same loo roll (you should know that I write these in arrears — or behind, as anyone who hasn’t been a debt counselor would probably say — which means I now have a comprehensive internal log of when I started each loo roll, so that I can give accurate information for the fictional time of writing, because this one was about last week, and now the loo roll situation is COMPLETELY different. By one roll. It’s actually quite stressful)
Pasta stocks: as per
Plants still alive: all of them!
Mum’s Top Tip of the Day: This is not actually a top tip, but is more insight, but she hasn’t given me any direct advice that I can think of, so we’ll go with it.
Discovered while creating the ‘Who said this on facebook 10 years ago’ quiz* that I have owned my swimming costume for 10 years. Quite alarmed by this (I have had the same swimming costume since I was <em>sixteen</em>. Wait, is that right? Just had to take the year of my birth off the actual date to try and work out how old I am. Anyway). Messaged my family to inform them of this discovery, which sparked off a bizarre oldest item of clothes competition.
Well, this is my mother’s cardigan.
She has had it since 1974.
Betcha can’t beat that.
*Side note on the ‘who said this on facebook 10 years ago’ quiz. Firstly, DO IT, it’s hilarious. Secondly, although it may seem initially funny to comment on a friend’s 11 year old status about their cough saying ‘CORONAVIRUS :O’, this WILL make it show up on everyone’s news feed and give their ex who commented on this 11 years ago a notification. While this, again, may seem initially funny, it becomes less so when you inadvertently generate a lot of concern over that person’s welfare, and they end up getting a lot of messages of people asking about their health. Soz, pal.
INTRODUCING: the coronavirus version of a gripping whodunnit.
It is seven minutes after half past five. The milk is placed to the left of the doorstep (and also there are eggs). An attractive, intelligent and humble young woman exits her home and pauses. It is the middle of lockdown and she is going on her BJ sanctioned walk. She pauses. She hesitates as her gaze falls on the milk.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single woman in the middle of a lockdown, must be in want of some milk.
(Especially if she ran out of milk two days ago and recently posted as such in her wildly entertaining and critically exclaimed blog).
She pauses. She smiles. She takes the milk (and eggs) inside and puts them in the fridge. She was feeling sad and a little intimidated of the prospect of a week’s annual leave sitting in her house alone (the one that was supposed to contain two weddings, a holiday to Malta with beloved besties and a hen do) and had spent the last fifteen minutes melancholy and dramatically hugging a pillow to her chest, before she had eschewed Idleness to embrace her future as Outdoorsy Type.™
The milk fills her being with joy.
The attractive, intelligent and humble woman embarks on her walk, full of renewed encouragement and contentment.
(If you weren’t paying attention, that was a long way of writing I was having a bad day and found some milk and eggs on my doorstep and it cheered me up.)
(Also, we’re going back to first person now. Generally against changes of perspective halfway through a story because to me it’s basically lazy writing — hello, twilight?? You sucked a long time before you changed to Jacob’s point of view in that last book, but that is some seriously unacceptable literary decisions – but, this is a blog, and this is a pandemic; get over it)
Get home from walk and message colleague from work to ask if she is my milk deliver-er, as we’d had a conversation earlier that day in which I had said that I didn’t have any real milk, or indeed real coffee, so was now drinking instant l
coffee with mildly congealed cashew nut milk. She had made a joke about delivering milk but confirms that she is not responsible for my milky-goodness.
Which means, either:
- Milk is milkman milk, which means it’s entirely possible that this is not a gift, but accidental theft and this really belongs to a neighbour who is now bereft and Without Milk.
- This is a gift, from someone who knows that I am without milk, either from blog or other source
- This is mana from heaven and milk has been provideth in my hour of need.
From the offset, the first seems more likely, and I do try and resolve instances of accidental theft in my life, which happen more than you might think.
Most recently, I took friend out for a birthday dinner because I’m not very good at birthdays and birthdays presents. I’m not necessarily giftsy so I’d generally offer the best gift of all — quality time with yours truly (and food). I am not very good at this either.
This meal happened around mid January. Friend’s birthday in question was in May. Whoops.
Anyway, we had LOVELY meal where I ate approximately six times the amount of food that friend did. Even if I wasn’t picking up the tab, should probably have paid at least Seventy percent.
Friend drives me home.
There’s a moment where we’re chatting on the drive when she say: “Why is there a Christmas tree on your front lawn?” (This is literally completely unrelated to the story I’m telling, it just happens to also be the day that someone fly-tipped a Christmas tree on my lawn. Only put three fake trees up this year and had missed chance to buy one; thought the benefit of this sub-par Christmas spirit was not have to work out how to dispose of Real Tree, as always sort it out too late for collection services, but no. Still wound up with this problem. I optimistically hoped it was the wind and that someone would take the tree, but they did not, and three weeks later I cut it up with my bread knife so I could put it in my garden waste bin. Housemate also broke my fake tree when we put it up, which led to hilariously wonky tree propped up by wall and the invention of the phrase ‘on a scale of one to our Christmas tree…’ which would usually be followed by one of us flopping like a dead fish. This means that one of my bin collections was entirely sad, broken up bits of Christmas tree. Anyway.)
I say: “That is a great question. I do not know why there is a Christmas tree on my front lawn.”
She says: “Is this your Christmas tree?”
I say: It is not my Christmas tree.”
Mutual laughter happens.
I say: “Happy birthday for eight months ago. Maybe next year I’ll be more on time.”
(Unlikely, but now I can blame coronavirus).
Get my phone out to take picture of Christmas tree now on my front lawn. As I’m doing so, see a notification from my bank saying:
Card declined: please use chip and pin.
I did not use a chip and pin.
I have not paid for my friend’s eight month late birthday dinner.
No one has paid for the eight month late birthday dinner.
Enter the house laughing a lot. Tell the confused housemate that we have another Christmas tree and I have dined and dashed. She goes out to see Christmas tree and we now appoint a fly-tipped tree as the new bottom of the ‘Christmas tree’ scale.
Call restaurant. (Look!!! Despite how much I hate phone calls I even try to CALL in incidents of accidental theft). Restaurant does not pick up. Eventually end up sending them a message on Facebook and explaining that it was an accident and I would really like to pay. They reply within 20 mins and I set up bank transfer (should have done that before calling).
Restaurant is greatful, but last time I did this the restaurant gave me vouchers for free cocktails for my honesty.
This time my only free gift is a Christmas tree.
And now, months later, milk.
Point being—- If the milk does in fact belong to a neighbour, I don’t want to be the person that deprives them of milk. I understand, intimately, what it is like to be without milk: I do not want that on my shoulders (for anyone else, it’s obviously already my own fault that I am without personal milk). In a technical sense, it would be the fault of the milkman, but we should be good to small businesses.
We still have street wide community WhatsApp set up to help people with coronavirus.
Message street community WhatsApp to ask if any of them ordered some milk and eggs from a milkman.
Haven’t ruled out option 2 (gift from human) and also message likely gift bearers. Feel like I know more people who are the type to both have a milkman and deposit milk on doorstop of lonely social distancer than the average person, but get no positive ID.
Decided to leave it 24 hours for neighbour to claim milk and eggs.
Am then struck by insomnia, sleep zero hours, and decide that 12 hours is plenty.
Milk is delicious. It is whole milk, and creamy enough that it’s actually solid at the top. It takes like it came from an actual cow, but in a nice way. It is very milky, so make coffee extra strong (not a problem), and it is —-
Halfway through the first cup of delicious milky coffee, am racked with guilt and look up milkmen to discover that they do not deliver to my postcode.
This means that:
Milk is a milkmen mistake
- Milk is a gift from someone who knows that I am without milk, either through blog post or through me telling everyone who I have spoken to about the hardship of having no milk and being unsure if this qualifies me for a trip Outside
- Milk is divine intervention. The Lord God Almighty has manifested milk on my doorstep in my hour of need.
Problem is, neighbours have confirmed that although they have ordered no milk and eggs, one of them would like some eggs if there are any going spare.
I do, in fact, now have eggs going spare.
This extra six brings my egg total to thirteen eggs
I am one person. That’s <em> a lot </em> of eggs.
So, no worries, I can drop my neighbour round some eggs, but now have a moral dilemma because —-
My milkmen eggs are from a farm. If the milk is anything to go by, they are going to be delicious. In the nature of cheerful gift giving, I should give neighbour my nice eggs, but…. I want the nice eggs.
In scenario number 1 — that these really belong to someone who has paid for them and have not gotten them — then I should definitely give the nice eggs to neighbour. There’s nothing wrong with my eggs and I have been blessed with the nice milk already, at someone else’s expense.
In scenario number 3, should also give away the nice eggs. If God has provided for my need (nice milk for my coffee) in such a miracle, then I am honor bound to provide for others needs in my hour of blessing.
If it’s a gift, that means someone wanted me to have the nice eggs, right? And it wouldn’t be honouring the gift properly to give them away. Like re-gifting a Christmas present on Boxing Day, or like how my brother in law told me and my sister off for drinking more than one bottle of the Tiny Wines that my parents shipped to us a night, because that ‘wasn’t your mum’s intention when she bought these for you.’ It’s not in the spirit of the thing.
Decided I must prove that these are gifts so I can keep nice eggs.
As all crime (what’s the opposite of crime? un-crime?) writer’s know, your suspects must have: means, motive & opportunity.
Victim (me) has consumed all the milk and remains in good health and coronavirus free. Can therefore assume that the motive was not malice (unless milk WAS infected by coronavirus and the coughing / fever / shortness of breath I had WAS coronavirus, meaning this would be poisoned chalice had no affect??? If so, jokes on you). Very few people benefit from victim having coffee at the moment due to social distancing rules, as if coffee deficiencies result in unpleasantness individuals have the option of turning off video camera.
Seems most likely that the motive is just that someone is very nice and wanted the vic to have milk.
Estimated time of delivery is hard to establish. There is a 24 hour window between witnesses (me) viewing the crime scene (doorstop). HOWEVER, forensics indicates that the milk was still fine, so probably hadn’t been there that long. Milk appeared approximately six hours after victim posted blog post about not having milk. If this is where the perpetrator gained their insight, this means there is a six hour window in which the incident could have occurred. We can extrapolate, however, that the perp:
- knew the victim’s particular milk needs and choose to exploit this need in the name of ‘doing something very nice for another’
- Knew the victim’s address
- Could get to said address sometime within a six hour window
- Victim is UNSURE about whether any vehicles were seen in the area that day, as she tends to have tunnel vision while working.
- Given this is a lockdown situation, we are either looking at someone who: was within a BJ sanctioned walk away from the scene of the gift; has a loose interpretation of the phrase ‘only leave the house if necessary’ or was in the area for another reason, such as commuting, buying groceries etc.
The provenance of the weapon (milk) in question is proving difficult to establish. We know that the milk could not have been delivered directly to the post code after our enquiries (googling the company), BUT the company in question only allows you to search one postcode. The investigating officer (me; no one else cares) has employed several methods of research in order to widen the field of interest, by using different devices and browsers to search the post code of likely subjects.
Investigating officers has used both regular and incognito browsing on phone, work laptop (during lunch; promise I’m a good employee) and regular laptop. All that we have been able to establish about the weapon in question, is that the nearest dispatch centre for this milk is in freaking Hull.
(Seriously, where did this milk come from??)
HOWEVER, due to our understanding of the timeline of events, it seems likely that the individual utilised their own milk. This means perp is likely to have a milkman and drinks whole milk.
We are asking the public to help with finding the perpetrator of this dastardly good deed. We have therefore released the following E-Fit.
WARNING, THIS GOOD HEARTED CRIMINAL IS KNOWN TO:
- Prey on the needs of others
- Drink delicious creamy whole milk
- Actually have faith that I would go for my walk every day, which is confidence in my stickability that I don’t feel I deserve
- Knows where I live
(Thanks, Milk bringer. I really appreciated it. It was very kind and it made me very happy)
(I procrastinated on the decision for three days and then….. kept the farm eggs)
Top 5 things about lockdown:
- Personally, I think I’ve been getting a lot funnier since all this began. No one else has said this, just me, but given my audience is also just my plants and myself, we’ve got 25% increase in satisfaction rating.
- So little going on that I remembered to put out my garden waste bin!! This is 4-weekly on a different day to my actual bin day so I usually forget. I pay for this service, so it’s nice to get my money’s worth. Also, now there’s somewhere to put my dead plants when I eventually kill them.
- Got into my bed on my lunch break yesterday, just cause. My bed is the best. Unsure why I have spent so much of the last few weeks not in my bed?? Literally, ‘not bed’ is the worst when juxtaposed against ‘bed’
- People are bored and kind enough to put things I need outside my front door 🙂
- Can use coronavirus as a valid excuse for not getting anything done. Haven’t repainted the fence? Coronavirus, mate. Didn’t get that work done? You heard about that pandemic, didn’t you?? Behind on bible in a year? Just, you know, been really distracted by covid.
Worst 5 things about lockdown:
- Due to prevalence of video chatting, spend SO MUCH MORE TIME LOOKING AT MY OWN FACE THAN NORMAL. I’m a like, two mins in the morning to get ready type. It’s like, roll out of bed, brush teeth, wash face, lipstick so it looks like I care; done. Intentional time looking in the mirror is the length of time it takes me to open lipstick and put it on. And now, there are hoursssss of my day where I can see this square of my face. I did not need to know what I looked like while thinking, or drinking coffee, or talking. Did not need this in my life.
- Low level guilt that I have yet to learn a new language/ instrument or pair up my socks.
- Low level guilt for not contacting every single person I’ve ever met and asking them if they’re okay
- Low level guilt for cancelling plans, when in theory have nothing to do, but in practically still sort of want to curl up on my sofa and not talk to anyone
- Low level guilt about not giving away my nice eggs
Toilet roll situation: Same loo roll. Still 19 in stock. Considering creating ‘loo roll’ graph on my bathroom wall to track loo roll progression, but not sure am quite bored enough yet. Maybe next weekend.
Pasta stocks: Finished lasagne. Felt good about making a dent on the pasta suppliers, then dropped a packet of lentils on my head and discovered another packet of spaghetti, so…
Mum’s top tip of the day: This is quite a niche tip, but nevertheless some stellar advice, I think. After that moment on the phone the other week when I realised we wouldn’t be having our annual easter egg hunt, my very sweet and very thoughtful parents had a massive box of Thorntons Chocolates & Easter eggs delivered to my house. I have so much chocolate that I have actually bought some scales, so I can make the educated decision about whether to keep eating it (before I used the measurement of ‘how tight my jeans were’ but, come on, who’s going to wear jeans when you’re literally banned from seeing anyone? No one).
Anyway, my mother’s advice this time was around how I could still recreate the Easter Egg Hunt experience whilst on lockdown, by:
- Drinking a lot of wine
- Hiding the chocolate around my house
- Going to bed
- Wake up the next day having forgotten where the easter eggs are, and then compete with myself to find them.
Not only is that sheer genius, but it also means that her advice essentially amounts to the fact that I should get black out drunk on my own.
(Given that this is the third piece of advice my mother has given me that has involved drinking, I think it’s fair to say we have sourced the origin of my subpar relationship with alcohol, so this has also saved me some money in therapy, which is great news all round.)
Weekend starts at approximately twenty past five on Friday, because weekends are one of those things which are defined by working patterns. Am slightly daunted about the prospect of the weekend, because that is a loooooong stretch of time without structure. Work makes things feel a bit normal. This is probably slightly melodramatic because it’s not unheard for me to relish in spending a whole weekend in my house, or at least a whole Saturday.
Have also come to a startling revelation that it is entirely possible (and in fact probable) to overdose on people when you are not, in fact, allowed to see people. Have spent so much time on the phone, or video chat, or sending messages on Whatsapp, that I am completely exhausted. Find phone calls and video calling much to be much more draining on the introvert stakes that, you know, actually just being in the same room as another person and having a chat, which means I’m reaching my limit earlier than normal.
Intended to speak to several people, but all I actually want to do is have a glass of wine, watch a film under a blanket and sleep for hours and hours and hours. This is good, because these are all things I am actually permitted to do.
However, first port of call is my Allowed Exercise Outing.
Am trying to turn this into a Profound Spiritual Experience rather than, you know, the one time that I’m allowed to leave my house and might see a real life human, and not just one through a screen (have actually been enjoying my walks, but… we are on week one and I have kind of run out of different directions to go in the park, so we’ll see how long I actually keep up enjoying it). In order to assist in my PROFOUND SPIRITUAL JOURNEY, I have been listening to my Audio Bible in the Year while walking.
Today I am listening to Leviticus.
It is about defiling skin diseases.
It is graphic and mildly disgusting.
It is… long.
Walk goes something like this.
Me: Gosh, look how lovely the outside is! Am a changed woman! Will have converted to fully fledged Outdoorsy Type ™ by end of Coronavirus.
Audiobible: if there is a white swelling in the skin that has turned the hair white and there is raw flesh in the swelling, it is a chronic skin disease – –
Audiobible: The priest is to examine the spot on the skin then —
Me: Look!! A bird!! I love nature!! The world is beautiful! I will revel in the beauty of the world!!
Audiobible: When someone has a burn on their skin and a reddish-white or white spot appears in the raw flesh of the burn
Me: It’s…. Nature is so very, uh, green and –
Audiobible: If a man or woman has a sore on their head or chin, the priest is to examine the sore, and —
Me: *Checks how many seconds are left in this chapter of Leviticus*
Me: *debates sacking off bible in a year*
Me: *grits teeth*
Audiobible: Anyone with such a defiling disease must wear torn clothes, let their hair be unkempt, cover the lower part of their face and cry out, ‘Unclean! Unclean!’ As long as they have the disease they remain unclean. They must live alone; they must live outside the camp.
Me: Oh, wait. This is weirdly relatable. I, too, must live outside the camp and am duty bound to live alone.
Older person: *walks towards me on the path , looking like they’re going to get closer than 2ms*
Me: *tears clothes*
Me: UNCLEAN!! UNCLEAN!!!
(That last part may or may not have actually happened).
So there you have it, folks. Biblical permission to wear torn clothes and let your hair be unclean, which means it’s totally fine to wear my McCain ‘chips’ jumper (I bought it because I found out that they were selling the jumper that guy in the chips advert wore in the advert, and I was like ‘who would buy that??’ And then I realised that I would buy that) even though it’s full of holes and I don’t have to wash my hair until all of this blows over. Another money saver, that.
Head back home after graphic images of hairs-in-boils have faded from mind, slightly, and watch ‘Mamma Mia: Here we go again’ which was part of the ‘Apocalypse Survival Kit’ that friend bought round back when friends were allowed to drop things round (aka. Two weeks ago). Find the film weirdly emotional. Build Harry Potter Lego Hagrid’s Hut. Drink wine. Play Ticket to Ride with family. Lose.
Housemates asks me what I’ve been up to today at around 4pm, and honestly have no idea. I know that I definitely drank coffee and debated whether running out of milk was a sufficient reason for going to the shop (I didn’t; I do have cashew nut milk. It’s Exactly The Same in the same way that talking to people only via the telephone is Exactly The Same as seeing them in person. Still, if you ignore the way it congeals in hot drinks it’s basically fine, and I didn’t used to have real milk at home until housemate moved in. This was, of course, because I spent the day drinking work’s milk in my coffee rather than being without milk), but the rest of the day is a restful but uneventful blank.
Definitely spent a lot of time in my conservatory. This is mostly because the longue was taken over by lego a few days ago and my dining chairs aren’t very comfortable.
I think I did some painting and had a lie in. Received aforementioned delivery of chocolate and also the additional Harry Potter lego that I probably didn’t need to purchase.
I tried to buy fence paint online. Could not buy fence paint.
All in all, the COVID lockdown version of a very busy day.
Honestly, I really need the rest. Feel unreasonably tired and not sure that can blame the walks for exhaustion in bones (although during Saturday’s walk it actually rained, so I think the distress of it all probably did award me some Serious Tired Points). It’s probably a mixture of all the talking to people and the emotional whiplash and the excitement of my Lego delivery, which I’ll grant you was a highlight.
Family suggests I put new lego set into dishwasher to disinfect it (it’s second hand; I ain’t made of money) which sounds like a bad idea all round, so instead I just wipe it down and wash my hands while singing ‘Happy Birthday’ twice.
Think how my niece would like this, because she’s been declaring it’s people’s birthdays for a while now because she wants to eat cake. I think this is good logical reasoning, but this strategic thinking has not yet been rewarded by cake which, you know, I don’t think is going to encourage her budding career as a cake sales strategist.
Saturday day evening brings remote pub quiz with beloved besties!!! This is, of course, Exactly The Same ™ as going to a real pub quiz. It’s for Juno women’s aid and we all come into it with the same quasi morality that it’s okay to message everyone we know, but it’s not okay to google the answers. The logic is that there’s no limit on team size, so we have expanded team to include:
- Southern beloved bestie’s girlfriend
- Southern beloved bestie’s parents
- Sheffield beloved bestie’s mum
- Everyone in my family WhatsApp group.
They are now proud(ish) members of the Menstrual Cycles (next week Sheffield beloved bestie’s mother is going to officially join us; her caveat is that we have to rename ourselves the Menstrual cyclists).
My dad gives us one of the answers and then Mum states that dad Googled it. Wordlessly, we remove answer from our scribbled sheet of answers. We actually get a shout out for this when results are being read, which is a bizarre form of rewarding our questionable moral code. We come second.
All in all, it’s actually a good Saturday.
Am late “for church” on Sunday, even though it’s a live stream and I don’t have to go anywhere or get dressed. It’s sort of, great, though, and I eat lunch on a video call to one of my friends feeling positive and light. This is, of course Exactly The Same ™ as the usual routine of actually going to church and all getting lunch together afterwards. Exactly. The. Same. Thing ™.
It’s okay. It’ll get old, but it’s fine. Have downloaded free online settlers of catan and that Houseparties App. Still have a few Lego kits to built (new one was AWESOME!! So cool. No pieces missing, and there are these secret hidden treasure chests and keys and this dial that you can spin and it moves loads of stuff. No regrets). Made a lovely dal for tea that doesn’t involve that many ‘fresh’ ingredients, which should help put off going to the shop for longer. #StayAtHome
We do a remote book club at 3pm about a book that some my church gals read (Hinds Feet on High Places). This is, of course, Exactly The Same ™ as our original plan of cake and tea and hanging out; my cashew nut tea isn’t even that bad and, even though I don’t have cake, this is only because I forgot to get some that Housemate messaged me to is in the freezer and needs eating out of the freezer. Also, if we weren’t doing it from our respective homes during to all being ceremonially unclean, it wouldn’t be okay for my clothes to be torn and my hair to be unkempt, and that’s a real timer saver.
(Now have much more time to… sit and contemplate existence).
Go for my walk, have bath with Christmas pudding themed bath bomb (bulk buy post Christmas) , decided to save Dal because I walked past chicken shop on my way home from walk and really wanted fried chicken ( am a vegetarian, so instead had chips and quorn chicken nuggets from my freezer; Exactly The Same ™ and also, another freezer meal, #StayAtHome ), and then play Cards Against Humanity online over video chat with the church lot until bedtime.
This is Exactly The Same ™ as doing this in person, except:
- online version is SUPER confused by eight people playing and a bit laggy, leading to fifty percent of the conversation being WHO MOVED THAT CARD and WHO STOLE MY CARD. We eventually enact strict rules about who is allowed to move cards at any given time. Personally, don’t find that super strict rules is necessarily the best way to maximise the fun, but it was necessary
- Eight people on video chat is certifiable chaos and if it wasn’t all very funny it would probably be very stressful
- We’ve never actually played cards against humanity in real life.
All in all, my weekend was genuinely fun and actually relaxing, and , if my vague memories of Saturday morning are actually correct, I did some life admin. I guess all in all this amounts to Exactly the Same ™ as what I usually look for in a weekend, so… we’ll take it.
I’ll leave you with my experiences on my Sunday walk.
Me: am an inspiration, going for a walk when it is has been hailing this very morn! Need to work out who will play me in the film about my transformational journey to Outdoorsy Type ™ ! Love nature. Love being so cold that my legs are numb. Love walking.
Audio bible: When any man has an unusual bodily discharge…
Me: I. Wow. This is actually worse than the skin diseases.
Audio bible: If the man with the discharge spits on anyone who is clean, they must wash their clothes and bathe with water…
Me: well yes, I suppose that you would want to wash your clothes and bathe in water if…
Audio bible: anyone the man with a discharge touches without rinsing his hands with water must wash their clothes and bathe with water, and they will be unclean till evening.
Me: wash your damn hands people! Topical.
Audio bible: When a man is cleansed from his discharge, he is to count off seven days for his ceremonial cleansing…
Me: right, Helen, this is god’s word and this is a Profound Spiritual Experience. It’s okay that you can’t feel your face. It’s a Beautiful Thing that you’ve done this part of the walk every day for the past week. Revel in nature!! Admire the squirrels)! Be grateful and inspired!! Love the trees! Be transformed by the transformative nature of spending quality time with the beauty of the earth (especially as quality time with actual people is banned).
Audio bible: when a man has an emission of semen…
Top five things about lockdown:
- Redid budget as new council tax bill arrived, and was able to take out money for: travel costs, going out for coffee, going out for drinks, meals out, forgetting to bring lunch to work fund, meals out and leisure. This is, of course, a “Good Thing.” Have used excess funds to increase weekly wine budget (and take out budget).
- Profoundly unaffected by the clocks going back/ forward. So unaffected that I can’t remember which way they went. What does it matter? Time is meaningless, anyway.
- Deep emotional connection formed with plants. So worried for their welfare when it started hailing that I bought all my plant friends who live in pots inside to keep em safe and we hung out in my conservatory together and that was nice.
- Watched that video about the guy thanking the baked potato approximately seventy seven times and will now be able to sing ‘thank you baked potato’ every time I eat a baked potato
- Everyone’s increasing levels of insanity are interesting to watch, in a car crash sort of way
Worst 5 things about lockdown:
- I write dystopian novels and while this is prime material, feels callous to use this to feed fiction writing. Maybe I’ll give it a year or something.
- The best way to make sure I have all zee things I need for the week is to make a fully comprehensive food plan and, basically, I don’t want to. I’m not very good at them because I’m very easily swayed by food envy and have no self control (eg. Making dal and then eating fake chicken instead). Every time my next door neighbour cooks curry, it smells so good I order a take out.
- Realisation that lateness is so engrained in who I am as a person that it actually doesn’t matter if planned social activity just involves turning on computer. This weekend I was late for: pub quiz, church, book club and cards against humanity. Absolutely zero ways I can justify this.
- Was struck during church about the gritty reality that this disease is going to kill a lot of people and decimate the livelihoods of thousands of businesses owners who are never going to recover. Haven’t been watching the news much, so forced myself to read some after to face up the fact that this thing is big, and serious, and scary, and the fact that I’m safe in my house pales into insignificance compared to the pain of families who will lose someone and people in unhappy and dangerous homes and people on the breadline who were struggling anyway. Feel sad and powerless and worried about people that I care about.
- Can’t by flour in the supermarket
(I’m going to be honest with you here, folks, it’s not really Exactly The Same).
Toilet roll situation: new loo roll. Still 19 in stock. Feel secure.
Pasta stocks: actually ate some pasta! Now feel morally better about owning so much, even though this is just apparently how much pasta I own, rather than stockpiling (except all that stuff I swapped for coffee and kidney beans). As such, now own:
- A unopened packet of impracticality large pasta
- ½ pack of date lasagne sheets from the Foodbank
- One packet of spaghetti
- One open packet of macaroni
- That other pasta that housemates says she owns if I run out.
(Am I going crazy, or does that not feel like much pasta? Feel uneasy. Wish I hadn’t counted)
Oh, plus ¾ of a cooked roast veg and lentil lasagne.
Day 1 (Tuesday)
- worky things
- Video Lunch with work colleague. Usually, we go eat Thai food every Friday at this restaurant. They know our orders and our table and always say ‘see you next week!’ at the end of lunch. Went day before my self isolation started and we did say this would probably be the last for a while. Highlight during this lunch was when he says “It must be dreadful to be a drug dealer or house breaker at this time. Will nobody think of the drug dealers?” Had not thought of this previously. Feel moved and humbled.
- Video prayer type meeting with small group. Lead this group with housemate, and felt like given I was shook, others might be and want to pray
- Video call with beloved besties, where we played Psych and chatted and I may have told one of their parents’ beloved besties’ nickname, which may include reference to beloved besties dating preferences. Whoops.
- Phone call with dad & sister (and sort of my mum, but it was clear we were interrupting her TV watching) while playing ticket to ride
In the end, this was 6pm-11:30pm worth of phone calls.
Day 2 (Wednesday)
- worky things
- Neighbour walked past house on her allowed outing. She called me just before she walked past and then I came and sat on my front step and she waved and I got to see her 1 year old son, and I did not get to give 1 year old son cuddles, due to remaining the government recommended distance apart. Seeing babies and not being able to give them hugs is V. Hard.
- Socially distant bible study! We were supposed a study the next chapter of a book that we’ve doing for a while, but the commentary I read was entitled “serving god in the last days: attitudes for end-times believers”. Ultimately decided that this was not appropriate and changed direction mid session (a good learning point here: always plan the day before!!)
Day 3: (Thursday)
- Remote lunch with work friend. V. Lovely, but have concluded eating tacos on a video call is a bad call. I mean, not with friend, but it’s not a good remote first date food, if we do this for long enough that people decide to have remote first dates
- Called school friend on my Allowed Walk and I showed her the park that has now become my Walk Place (turns out all anyone had to do to make me exercise was say that I could only do it once a day; my innate British desire to get the best value out of a deal has meant that I have cashed in daily)
- Organised family call! Scotland sister, “Awesome sister”, grandma, parents and niece!!!! Grandma now video chats. Niece is 2.5 years old and shows us the pictures she’s drawing on the camera and tells us about putting seasoning for dinner in the pan. Niece is so cute I sort of want to cry, because I also cannot hug her.
(Although to be fair, Niece is quite vocal about her physical boundaries, so I don’t get to hug her that much anyway)
Mum’s top tip of the day: told mum about mum’s top tip for the day. Asked her to give me some advice for my blog and she was v. Confused, and later mildly disgruntled and not forthcoming with advice.
The next day I got this, which has left me mildly scarred for life, but I suppose means we’re even again.
Mixed reviews for lockdown so far.
Keep having really lovely moments, then moments of piercing sadness when I realise things that I’m not going to have for a long time.
Like, seeing beloved besties.
We usually meet up once a month, which I think is pretty damn good given general adult friendships and the fact that we’re all living in different parts of the country. We’d intended to meet next weekend with all of us, then the three of us go away the following week (Sheffield beloved bestie’s girlfriend had uni essay so she couldn’t come with).We knew holiday wasn’t going to happen, but we thought that maybe we’d just semi-self-isolate some place together for the week we all have off work, and play games and hang out anyway. Sheffield beloved bestie had started stockpiling sangria (correct type of panic buying, I think).
The three of us have gone away once or twice a year since our second year of university (six years?? Is that right?) and I know this makes me V. V. Privileged, but please never think I am not aware of this. FULLY understand that my middle class existence of lockdown is an entirely different and more internal focused hot bed of pressure, but not financial. Am INCREDIBLY blessed to have secure income and enough wider security that if it all went tits up I could call my parents and they could help me. The lack of fear is the real definition of social class, for me , and I would hope to never walk into a room without an awareness of how my privileges and advantages has led me to a place of living confident that I can be self sufficient.
That being said, I really flipping love our holidays. We read books and swap books and drink cocktails and make iced coffees and do puzzles and watch tv in the evenings all hauled up under blankets. We play card games and sit on the beach and I burn like a crisp, despite commitment to factor fifty, so each holiday they take pictures of my sunburns for prosperity. They have like six different pictures of my burnt arse.
Anyway, the point is, am completely gutted about not seeing beloved besties. Thinking about not seeing them for months makes my soul ache.
I get migraines and I have done for a very long time. I’ve just lived with it due to my mild phobia of going to the doctors and because I kinda figured they couldn’t do a whole lot about them. In our November meet up, I had a SUPER BAD migraine. Wound up throwing up five or six times and spent about two hours of the day out of bed. Was staying at Sheffield beloved bestie and girlfriend’s place and sharing a bed with other beloved bestie, and at the point we were all going to bed I just cried, and part of it was because my head hurt so much every time I moved my head that I kinda wanted to cut the damn thing off my neck, but also because I’d lost the whole Saturday that we were gonna spend together. I cried into one of her pillows (while keeping head v. Still) and decided that I was going to freaking well deal with these migraines, because they were not going to cost me my monthly weekend with beloved besties again.
(Booked first available doctors appointment online the following week, which was in eight weeks time. I think I could have got an appointment earlier if I had called them. Obviously I did not do this because phones.)
There have been some more tears since BJs announcement. I am a cryer, anyway. I once cried at a Tescos ‘food love stories’ advert. I’ve cried at the song ‘Rockabye’ and I have cried at that bit in Angus Thongs and Perfect Snogging (this reference is depressingly retro) where she turns up at the party dressed as an olive and then runs away.
Most awkward tear-fest of the past few days was in work check-in, a new daily occurrence where each member of the team talks about how they’re doing. Well, I thought I was fine, and then people starting talking, and I Was Not Fine. Cue tears. Cue trying to suppress tears. Cue internal battle as to whether to leave virtual meeting for a moment. Cue my turn to share how I’m doing.
I say hi. This means that everyone now gets a view of my face on their laptop. My voice cracks. I see myself on the screen. I do not know what to say. Am now crying on video chat in front of all my work colleagues. Panic. Commit to PEAK DRAMATIC EXIT, and shut laptop and leave the room. Now start to sob like teenagers do in films when they’ve been grounded: throw myself into my bed, hug pillow, and sob. Can hear meeting going on in background because shutting laptop doesn’t actually remove me from meeting. Head of Department awkwardly moves the conversation on. They pray for me (we’re a Christian bunch, we pray for everyone, not just people who run out of virtual meetings to cry, although you should always pray for people who run out of work meetings to cry) while I sob on my bed. Am still half wearing my PJs and have a meeting with all of them immediately after check in.
Compose self. Make coffee. Get properly dressed and put on lipstick. Seamlessly join meeting like nothing has ever happened.
As soon as I start work, feel completely fine again.
That evening, really enjoyed praying with my church group and then had the best time with the besties from afar, and it all felt like it could be a fun kind of challenge again.
Plus, we have another distanced meet up scheduled for this weekend!!
Got to that point during Tuesday evening when I started losing a little of my tunnel vision and really feeling, instead of knowing, that this isn’t an IDEAL situation for anyone. There was a few moments before that when I wanted to scream BUT I’M ON MY OWN. YOU’VE GOT YOUR SPOUSE OR YOUR KIDS OR YOUR PARENTS OR YOUR HOUSEMATES AND ALL IVE GOT ARE MY PLANTS AND I’M PROBABLY GOING TO KILL THEM ALL SOON.
But, I am an introvert, and I think I’m going to do a lot better with this than I would with a fictional other half and kids, and I don’t really think it’s worse to be on your own, it’s just different. Then I started thinking about friends who just about get on with their housemates, and friends who love their housemates but, you know, appreciate the evenings they go out A LOT, and I started thinking about those poor extroverted outdoorsy types, and I more or less got round to being back to ‘this time is a gift. Freaking well use it’ when I had a sudden moment of like is my mother okay???
Parents visit my sisters a lot. Not me so much, but that’s because I haven’t produced a grandchild / don’t need any decorating doing. I live close enough to “Awesome Sister” that I nip across when parents are visiting them, and that’s… not going to happen for a while. Started to become concerned that the fact that we didn’t play a family Ticket to Ride Game last night was symbolic of my mother not being okay.
Was on a group call with “Awesome Sister” and dad, so asked how mum was. He called her into the room by saying we were on the phone and she didn’t come for twenty minutes because she was watching a TV program about funerals.
My mother is fine.
I, too, will be fine.
Really, we need to be thinking about the drug dealers and the house breakers.
And —— I found this shed key!!!
Woke up Wednesday, looked at the pile of PJs on my bedroom floor and had a moment of extreme clarity: that I needed to get over myself and do my bloody laundry.
This was very grounding and helpful.
And, shed key was in the little pot hanging off the washing line with the pegs in! Shed key has been missing since my birthday party (September) and now I have an almost memory of someone telling me they put the key there, but I could just be filling in a blank. It hasn’t really been warm enough to dry clothes outside since then, though, so poor keys have mostly been chilling with my pegs in a puddle of rainwater for 6 months.
(Thus the rust conversation, thus my mother’s tips about purchasing lubricants. Hope I never have to write that sentence ever again).
Also, may have tried to break into shed using a screwdriver before using the screwdriver to unscrew the hinges on the door, so there was a hairy moment when I thought I’d broken the lock, but no!
Have access to my shed!! This would never have happened without lockdown!!
(Until I did laundry that I hung on the line, at least).
Also, there is a 83 acre park opposite my house, that I have been in twice before lockdown.
It is B e A u t I F u L
So, new routine is my Allowed Walk after work. Still spending breaks painting and drinking nice, slow, ground coffees in my conservatory. Still starting most days at 9:30 and eating breakfast. Probably feel more relaxed than I ever have in my life (if you ignore the crippling fear that I’ll never be lawfully allowed to hug anyone else again) and am looking forward to spending the weekend reading a book in my garden.
Spent an embarrassing amount of money on more Harry Potter Lego. Don’t really regret it.
Top 5 things about lockdown:
- I have spent so much time in my conservatory that I legitimately have freckles, which is the very pale person’s equivalent of a tan. I’ve never really understood the fascination with tanning because it is an unachievable end goal for me (well, there was that one time I accidentally got after sun with fake tan in and had been dutifully fake tanning my burnt arse and the back of my knees for a full week before I realised what was going on. I thought it was some weird super problematic serious burn and all my skin was about to fall off, but instead I just had v. Strange streaky orange patches. Until, as is the way with bad sunburn, my skin actually did fall off. Anyway), but it seems like the acquisition of skin pigmentation is usually celebrated, so let’s go for it
- Feel better about spending money on things like Lego or potential coffee subscription, as saving money on things like going out for coffee and actually having fun
- Parents ordered me and “awesome sister” a crate of tiny wines, so now I can feel mildly judged by my tiny wine bottles when I drink two in one night
- Have been an advocate of drinking alone for many years, but feels more socially acceptable now my aloneness is government mandated
- It’s really loud when they test the fire alarms at work. I am not legally obligated to test my smoke detector every Monday, so won’t have that awful moment when you jump out of your skin then quickly realise that they do this every week.
Worst 5 things about lockdown:
- Every year my mum organises an Easter egg hunt for us, and I am the undisputed champion of the past decade and a bit. Last year I was sure that I was going to go up against my niece to protect my title, but she’s so small and cute that in the end we teamed up. This was at my house and probably the moment that I actually won her over. She actually likes me now and it’s all because of that Easter egg hunt. Cannot think of a way to do this virtually. We have done this for at least the past twenty years, and I am sad. Don’t care that am in mid twenties, those Easter eggs are the best.
- Low key feel like this is a ploy to get everyone to leave the house once a day to exercise, and I have fallen for it
- The ‘Psych! Outwit your friends app’ keeps crashing because so many people are trying to play it
- Crippling insecurity about what counts as ‘essential’. Tomorrow I’m going to run out of milk and will only own courgettes and cheese (and everything in my freezer and cupboard stuff, such as half a ton of rice), is this an essential trip? Do I need to wait until I have spent the last four days eating only housemate’s frozen gluten free bread with garlic salt on? Unused to critically assessing supermarket purchases.
- Been embracing JOMO for a long time and it’s not as subversive and good at feeding sense of ‘I know who I am, and it’s a person who likes to stay in and build Lego’ superiority when everyone is being forced to do it. Maybe I would have chosen this life anyway, huh? You ever think about that??
Need to put the other twelve screws back in the shed door not that removing hinges isn’t my access route.
Maybe next week. I’m swamped right now.
Toilet roll situation: Just started the new roll. Did a stock take and turns out I only have 20 left, not 36. Looks like I am currently using just over 1 roll per week. This felt weirdly more than normal, but then I realised that I usually spend 50+ hours a week not in my home. Still, should have enough loo roll to get me through at least another 4 months.
Pasta stocks: Considering eating pasta tomorrow just so I can have less pasta.
Just had a video call with three good friends from work, for our new weekly pub quiz! This involves us video calling from our respective abodes and pretending that talking online is the same as actually getting to socialise together.
Some good aspects to COVID, here, in that the last four times we’ve tried to all meet up to properly hang out (not see each other briefly at work), we have cancelled due to conflicting schedules. Well, goodbye schedules! We are each going to do a round each week. Unfortunately, we only got through ‘General Knowledge’ (spoiler: none of us have any general knowledge. Friend-who-traded-me-pasta-for-kidney-beans decimated me & friend-who-got-the-cough-the-day-before-me by getting 50% correct), before we had an interlude to watch BJs (Boris Johnson’s) address. We did place bets on the content of the speech, but even though my predictions of ‘he’s going to say loads of people are going to die’ and ‘will actually define what non-essential contact is, like only going to the shop once a week’ was correct, it sort of killed the pub quiz vibe, so we stopped playing after that.
Also, Whatsapp, but no other human contact. Was feeling really crappy today after bad night’s sleep, so old feelings of hatred/anxiety over phone calls and video chats re-emerged. Want to hand in millenial badge and fully embrace the phone call, but this is too ingrained in my psyche!
For example, booked the meal out with Yorkshire-Sister a long time ago (the one that might have given her coronavirus) but for some reason I couldn’t pay the initial fee bit while booking it, but they wanted me to CALL THEM to pay! CALL THEM???? So, I didn’t. Intended to do it in the future. They called me and I didn’t pick up because I didn’t recognise the number and I am not certifably insane (for me the only valid reason to answer a phone call from an UNKNOWN NUMBER???). They left me a voicemail asking me to give them a ring back and pay, but I needed to work myself up for it. They rang me again. This time I did recognise the number, but I also really wasn’t in the right headspace for a phone call. The right headspace is like the top ninety-ninth percentile of my general wellbeing. If I aint there, I aint talking on the phone.
(There are exceptions. These are, largely, my parents or members of my family. Will accept phone calls from very good friends if they have told me that they are going to ring me in advance, or in absolute crisis situations. Or, you know, self isolation).
This cycle repeated around four times. Then they emailed me and said that they’d cancelled my booking because I hadn’t paid. Emailed them for their BACS details and had sorted it out and paid within twenty minutes — no phone call necessary. If they’d just done that in the place, we’d have been golden.
It’s not just restaurants. Director pulled me into a meeting with another company a few months back and I’d sent him a text to ask him what he wanted from me/ to prepare etc. He called me back instantly and I panicked and didn’t answer, despite the fact that:
- I knew what he was calling about
- What he was calling about was directly beneficial to me
- Actually wanted to speak to him about the issue at hand
- I know him and we’ve worked together enough that a phone call REALLY should be fine.
Had to sheepishly call back a few minutes later, after I had sternly told myself the above four points.
I have the kind of relationship with phone calls where I considered it to be extreme character development that once upon a time I called Dominos because I accidentally ordered my pizza with extra mushrooms rather than no mushrooms. This was not character development: this was hardcore hatred of mushrooms.
(This is all kind of ironic and a bit weird considering I spent, like, three or so years working as an over-the-phone debt counsellor, where my job was literally to talk to people on the phone, and I really loved that job. Anyway).
Point is, didn’t really feel up to talking to people much over the phone, so spent a lot of the time texting etc instead.
Mum’s top tip of the day:
“Autumn is just going to have to adjust like everyone else.”
Autumn is my sister’s cat. As ever, my mother is not wrong.
Usually aim for levity with these things, because I find humour and laughing at myself to be the way to enjoy small things about the tsunami of chaos that is life, but, to be honest, I’m not really feeling very light hearted at the moment. Nothing BJ said in his address felt surprising or unreasonable, but yet still somehow feels like a shock.
Obviously, it’s the right thing to do. But.
The raw, gritty truth of it is that I am good at being on my own, but I don’t know if I am that good at being on my own and it’s scary and it makes the forthcoming loneliness feel like a physical pressure.
Housemate is probably not going to be coming home any time soon for various reasons (none of which are to do with #HerbGate and, Grace, if you’re reading, I did buy some more turmeric. Should be some by the time you get home). This means that I will be spending lockdown in the house on my own.
And, you know, I like living alone. I’ve lived alone for the better part of the last three years and wasn’t really in the market for changing that. Housemate was supposed to stay for a few weeks but it turns out that I love having her here. She’s funny and fun and she organised the tupperware so that it’s all arranged by size with matching lids and we play Mariokart and avoid each other when either of us are Hangry. I’d hoped that, when lockdown happened, we could do it together and probably drive each other slightly crazy, but also have dance parties and watch Derry Girls and invent games like ‘Whose Neck is it Anyway’ (you have to…. Guess who it is by the picture of their neck. It’s pretty self explanatory. Also, housemate is VERY good at it). Plus, there are other great things about there being other human beings that you’re allowed to be physically close to, like hugs.
Grace is a fan of surprise-hug-attacks. By which I mean I am sat on the sofa minding my own business and she launches herself at me and yells ‘hug attack’ and, about twenty five percent of the time, accidentally punches me in the face in the process.
I already really really want an accidental-punch-in-the-face-hug right now.
(The funny thing is, if she did this in public right now this would probably surmount to chemical warfare)
It will be okay. Like Autumn the cat, we will have to learn to adjust.
Was chatting to friend earlier. She asked if I wanted to come stay because she knows I’m on my own and they have a spare room. This is really lovely of her, but doesn’t feel like the right move. We chatted some more about being scared and a bit gutted, as both of us are single and won’t be able to see our family for a while. It’s a different kind of experience to being on lockdown with your parents or your spouse and/or your kids which, don’t get me wrong, is hard freaking work, and in a some ways I probably am glad that I’m doing it solo…. but. In a load of other ways I am not. We were both having a little ( a lot of) a cry, and she said that she was blowing her nose on her socks, because it was the nearest thing to hand.
I don’t know, folks. The lengths people will go to to preserve toilet roll these days
Today’s top 5 benefits of Lockdown
- I’d completely slacked on my responsibility of providing my quiz round on ‘Sports’ so was trying to do this while BJ was talking. Had volunteered to do sports because I thought it was funny because I know nothing about sports, but was finding creating quizzes difficult because… I know nothing about sports . Now none of us are allowed to visit our family, everyone forgot about my crap quiz. Harrah!
- Unclear yet whether the foodbank I volunteer at counts as ‘essential’. Feels like it does, as more people than ever need food parcels with all the big scary changes that are happening and I think it’s the only one in my city staying open. This means that I get to feel like a heroine from a YA novel, risking severe penalties (such as fines) to date sort tinned all-day-breakfast-in-a-tin and throw out the large quantities of out of date food that people donate so they feel less bad about throwing it away (look, we can’t give it out your tinned borlloti beans you bought a decade ago. Throw em away). Work for a Debt Counselling charity, so in a technical sense my day job is also to fight against social injustice and what not, but feels a bit more Robin Hood if I have to sneak out of my house to do it.
- Always in when you have deliveries, so don’t ever have to have that moment where you take your food box out of your bin because it has been declared as today’s ‘safe space’
- Exercise has officially been limited to once per day! Am going to count mine as pull ups. AKA. Pulling my fat ass out of bed in the morning.
- Appears that pandemics are the kind of thing that stop politicians arguing among themselves to work out an actual answer, given that Labour have supported the new measures. Would have been nice if they could have done that for Brexit, but….
Today’s top 5 pitfalls of lockdown
- No end point, which is scary. Only have enough toilet paper for 4 months, after all. What do I do then?? Use Housemate’s toilet roll?
- Was trying to cure phone addiction but feels more challenging when I need it to contact literally anyone. Have redownloaded Facebook app on my phone. Don’t really want this, but given my checking once a day on a browser had changed to having a browser open constantly, it seemed somewhat pointless not to have the app.
- If I kill my plants, definitely cannot use ‘was too busy’ as an excuse.
- Generally have to face up to truth if which things I say ‘I am too busy to do’ I am just actually too damn lazy to do; suspect list will be long. Not sure am ready to face up to reality of my own state of CBA.
- When this first started kicking off, this really inspired me to play Theme Hospital. After thoroughly being told off by BJ, am now feeling stirring of guilt over my initial gut reaction. Also, in Theme Hospital I’m super good at containing epidemics before the health minister finds out and fines me and in real life it all seems a Lot More Complicated. ‘Warning! Epidemic alert!’ ‘We apologize for the amount of litter.’ ‘Incoming patients with slack tongue.’ ‘Hospital administrator is cheating!’ What a game. (And I cheat on the political basis that I don’t believe hospitals should be for profit, ergo their financial criteria is against my political beliefs).
That being said, both Lego & Garden look great.
“Autumn is just going to have to adjust like everyone else.”
Toilet roll situation: Nearly finished the roll! Am shooketh. Must immediately go to the shops and battle pensioners to replenish stocks, as other 36 I own MAY NOT BE SUFFICIENT.
Pasta stocks: Have shamefully traded the fruits of my mild panic buying with friend as previously arranged, so now have four bags of pasta less than yesterday. Still have five in the cupboard. Not intending to eat pasta in the next few days, either, so.
Times left house: Once!! Freedom!!
- Mother for gardening tips after spending entirely too much money at the garden centre, given the statistical likelihood of any plants staying alive due to personal historic record. She also passed the phone to my father, which is usually the strategy either of us use to end the conversation. My dad can manage about 2-3 minutes on the phone before saying ‘so…. What else have you got to tell me’ and then hanging up shortly after. The exception to this appears to be our group Ticket To Ride calls.
- Friend & Friend’s fiance’ (who is also a friend) to swap pasta for kidney beans and coffee. We stayed responsibly far apart from each other because she is on that 12 week social distancing lockdown which makes my whining about the past 7 days sort of embarrassing.
- Friends for garden centre trip!
Mum’s top tip of the day:
Be careful when you handle the primulas, the leaves bring me out in a rash.
This is probably not as widely applicable as some of her other tips, but will hopefully be helpful for my gardening endeavours.
Feel like we missed some of the early parts of the story, so I’m going to briefly take us back in time.
Day 1 (but what I was treating as day 0, which is the reason for my timings jump): Am going to Sheffield to visit two of my beloved besties. Cough a few times when I wake up, but presume this is due to the cold I had a few weeks back playing up. Occasionally still had cold-y like symptoms in the morning, so was mostly concerned with being lynched on my train for coughing in public. Read ‘The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry’ on the train and feel inspired to embrace silence, solitude and rest, after I’ve completed my busy weekend plans, of course.
Approximately halfway through our second game of Mariokart, become growingly aware that feels like beloved bestie’s cat is sat on my chest (the cat is not sat on my chest). The urge to cough begins. The urge to cough is real. Say, with some trepidation, I think this is a new cough. Actually cough. Cough feels like it comes from somewhere underneath my lungs. Best friend gives me a sympathetic look. Best friend’s girlfriend (who is also in the beloved besties category, this is just the easiest way to differentiate) backs away because she has asthma and doesn’t want to die. Cough a few more times into a tissue, as recommended. Conclude that I probably need to leave and lock myself in home, rather than go out for dinner as planned. Regret mocking other-friend-who-got-a-cough-yesterday.
Text housemate and tell her I’m coming home to self isolate. We haven’t seen each other this week due to busy schedules and she is due to go home to her parents on Tuesday, so suggest she might want to leave earlier to reduce chances of her getting sick.
Finish Mariokart game. Play one more, because, well, I’m already here. Offer to anti-bacteria everything I have touched. They turn this down. Suspect bestie’s girlfriend may have done this after I left.
Sit on the floor of the bike storage area of the train to maintain 2m distance from people. Message family whatsapp. Have mocked my mother’s insatiable advice that we should stock up on food relentlessly. When I say I have to go and self isolate she says ‘bet you haven’t got any food in’ which is the level of sympathy I generally expect from my mother (and deserved, probably). She rings me while I’m on the train and says ‘I suppose it’s not really appropriate to talk about this now’ which feels like the right move to avoid inciting public transport panic.
By this point, I sound like I have spent several hours at a screamo gig. When the cough comes for ya, it really comes for ya.
Housemate & friend pick me up some food and by the time I get home she has packed her belongings to go back to her parents the next day (this was pre the 14 day rule so a legit decision at the time; also, she still has no symptoms but is on lockdown because someone else there had a temperature; should’ve stuck with me, Grace 😉 ).
Weird evening of high level of handwashing and anti-bacteria-ing the light switch every time I remember I need to get something from downstairs (hence mother’s: bring the wine to your bedroom, it’s more efficient). First remote game of ticket to ride that has now become a staple.
Day 2 (which I thought was day 1):
Wake up and cough approximately seventy seven times. Get myself coffee and book to read in bed, but go back to sleep for a bit instead. Watch the church live stream from the conservatory and they announce that it’ll be the last service for a while. Unsurprised but a bit gutted, as have been away for 3 of the last 4 weekends and really wanted to get to church this week before the services stopped.
Message housemate and ask if it’s okay if I come into and make myself a new coffee. She stands at the other end of room while I make coffee. Her parents are coming in 20 minutes. She says that when she told them I was sick they said ‘… we’ll come and get you out of there’. Choose not to meet them for the first time from 2 meters away while they try and extract her from the plague house.
Genuinely sick and feel horrendous. Head is pounding and can’t stop coughing. Sound like I smoke 40 a day; all gravelly and deep. After housemate leaves, move to sofa and cough guiltlessly. Nap on sofa and watch an entire season of Ru Paul’s Drag race. Nap in bed and wake up drenched in sweat and have to change into new PJs. Crawl back to sofa and take more paracetamol. Become convinced I am going to run out of paracetamol (I didn’t; obviously). Conclude I will probably be too unwell to work tomorrow (I wasn’t).
Day 3: Blog begins.
First day of freedom is underwhelming, as I start off not really sure whether I’m free or not. Friend who got the cough the day before me embraced her freedom yesterday (by going to ASDA), but in my head I wasn’t free until Sunday. Check with Dr friend, though, and doc confirms that I am FREEE!
Now feel like I missed my opportunity to listen to the COVID Quarantine Spotify playlist while self isolating ( I did a bit on Friday night, but it’s one of those things where the titles are hilarious but I have a low tolerance for the actual music; would have tried harder if I knew this was my last chance) and debated doing another day, just because I didn’t mark the Final Day properly and because it will screw up the ordering of the blog entries.
To be honest, most of the things I like doing are:
- Indoors-y things (like writing and painting and lego)
- Solo things (like writing and painting and lego)
In this respect, I’m definitely more set up for Self Isolation than outdoorsy extroverts. Plus, I don’t have kids and have a study that I can use as a home office. I’m probably the most well equipped for this whole malarkey which is probably why my first morning of freedom I spent doing…. Exactly what I would have done if I was self isolating.
Drink my coffee, paint and listen to Audio Bible. Am doing Bible in the Year and have just started reading Leviticus and am finding a bit tough going, so paint at the same time despite my previous words about multi-tasking being evil (just, seriously, that is a lot of detail about burnt offerings. I’m a veggie and there’s a lot of slaughter talk; and also, I reserve the right to be a hypocrite, particularly about rest and that stuff). Then continue building my Harry Potter lego.
Friend pops round with coffee and kidney beans, in exchange for the new currency of the land (pasta). Chat a bit in the doorway and discus the excellent meme game that has come out of Self Isolation / COVID.
Decide if I am going to buy plants, I should probably be Responsible Adult and mow the lawn and weed. Looked for shed key. In a shocking turn of events, have no more idea of where it is than when I realised it wasn’t where it should be in September.
Unscrew hinges of shed door (screwdriver was in conservatory, not shed, which is good news). There are sixteen screws holding the hinges of my shed door. (Well, there was. Now there are four). Mow lawn and remove weeds from cracks in patio. This high commitment to gardening makes me falsely confident that I am going to master gardening immediately and will never kill a plant again.
Am about to go out when I realise that I need to screw my shed back together. Also, that I can’t find my gardening tools. They’re probably in the shed but I couldn’t see them and now I have screwed the door back on, the chances of me looking again are limited.
Buy plants and gardening tools at garden centre. The outside world is…. also Underwhelming. It’s a bit cold and they’ve stopped serving food at the Garden Centre restaurant. Also, don’t actually know anything about plants so am wildly picking up things and checking it says ‘hardy’ on the back to have maximum chance of this not being a total waste of time.
Nice to see friends (and not through glass).
Overall, am out of the house for approximately 1 hour. Friends help carry the excessive amount of plants into my garden. It’s now late enough in the day that I decide I’ll plant them tomorrow. Decide to spend the evening building more of my lego (I own a LOT of lego, as it turns out) and playing a remote game of Ticket to Ride with my family.
Friends & I agreed that we will go for a (socially distant) walk tomorrow. Think there’s a possibility will be too tired after all my hardcore gardening tomorrow, but we shall see. It’s a nice day and I’m feeling pretty good about my wholesome pursuits and the fact that, during this whole week (other than ill day) I have watched 1h30 mins worth of television, rather than falling into social-isolation binge-fest. Feel inspired to live simple life full of plants and paints and books and nice coffee.
Two weddings I was going to next month have been postponed / shrunk today.
In my original conception of the plan, I was supposed to: go to Wedding number One, then the next day go straight from wedding-accommodation to airport for Malta holiday with beloved besties, then go straight from flight home to my parents house to say the night, to go to Wedding Two the next day, then the next day head back home for Hen Party One. To facilitate this, I had worked out what I was going to wear so that I could pass the appropriate items of clothing to my parents, so that I didn’t have to take Wedding number Two outfit in Ryanair-sized luggage. Had planned to do this this weekend, when we went for a Mother’s Day meal out. I know this is probably the kind of rushing / busyness that the book-on-Hurry was talking about, but I am genuinely gutted about missing all of these things. I wanted to do all of them a lot a lot, and I’m not even the one getting married. That part of my soul is achingly sad.
Still don’t own any garlic.
Top 5 things about freedom:
- Now my decision to stay at home and embrace JOMO feels like a choice rather than something that has been thrust upon me, I can enjoy staying at home more
- If I run out of wine, can go to the shop. I’ve heard rumours that you can’t buy food at the shops anymore, but have heard nothing about diminishing wine supplies.
- No longer feel like social piranha when people come to the door but stay waaaayy back.
- Don’t feel insecure about getting bin from the top of the driveway, just in case I accidentally step too far into the real world and the Self Isolation Police jump on me and accuse me of causing the COVID pandemic because of my recklessness
- Can now join in the ‘I went to the supermarket and there wasn’t any x’ conversations, which have now usurped the weather as the top british thing to talk about.
Top 5 things I miss about Self-Isolation:
- Whenever anyone’s going to the shop they told you they were going and asked if you wanted anything from the shop. Feels reasonable and yet sad that now I am able to leave people expect me to get my own things from the shop.
- Feels less socially acceptable to stay inside in my pjs all day.
- If what I had wasn’t coronavirus, I am less likely to actually catch coronavirus if I don’t leave the house.
- Now the reason I don’t own garlic is because I haven’t been to the shop, not because I am confined.
- The camaraderie with other people who are self-isolating. This now includes:
- Friend/ IT colleague who came and set up the WIFI extender
- The other beloved bestie that I didn’t see last weekend
- Several work colleagues
(The last two are definitely not my fault, but the others might be. Sister-who-asked-to-be-called-the-awesome-sister and I went out for dinner & drinks the Thursday night before I went down. She made me try her cocktail because she knew I would find it unpleasant because it is VILE and the worst thing that has ever happened to my taste buds. She found this very funny which is why, people, you shouldn’t mock. It only leads to one thing: Coronavirus).
Toilet roll situation: 1cm of current loo roll left. I now store a ruler, pen and post it notes in bathroom to keep track of this. This feels like an odd trajectory.
Pasta stocks: As per.
Today’s verdict on whether I have coronavirus: Well, definitely not anymore!
- Just Dad / Not-Scotland-Sister for remote Ticket to Ride.
- One work meeting & one brief social call with the work team.
Mum’s top tip of the day: Didn’t actually speak to my mother today either (It seems her initial concern for my welfare has diminished), but I’ve got this tidbit from day 1 of Self-Isolation.
I think the answer here is alcohol*.
(This was supposed to help my cough)
*This is against World Health Organisation guidelines. Their official policy is: ‘don’t use smoking, alcohol or other drugs to deal with your emotions’. Instead they advise you to ‘draw on skills you have used in the past that have helped you to manage previous life’s adversities and use those skills to help you manage your emotions during the challenging time of the outbreak’.
Think in previous days I was so caught up on the negative connotations of the word ‘isolation’ that I forgot to take advantage of one of the key benefits of this whole week.
I love spending time on my own.
I know not everyone is like this, but I flipping love, you know, not seeing people. There’s a reason someone bought me a mug that says ‘I hate people’ and it’s not because I actually hate people, I just, you know, don’t like spending time with people (this is not really true).
My ideal Saturday involves:
- A nice, lazy morning on my own. A lie in, a cup of coffee, brunch.
- Maybe meet a friend for a coffee mid-afternoon for an hour or so
- Come home and potter about a bit. Watch some TV. Drink more coffee.
- Go out for dinner in the evening with lovely company, great food & a glass of wine.
- Be home by 9pm, have another glass(es) of wine on my sofa or in bed and stay up too late by accident, then slip into an easy, restful sleep.
Done. Brilliant. Alone time to people ratio at about 3:1.
My every-week commitments (work, church, volunteering) equate to 50% of my waking hours spent with other people, before any of the active socialising to hang out with my friends and see/chat to my family or visit brilliant far away friends. Then with that slice of time left, you’ve also gotta wash and cook and clean and eat, and none of that counts as good quality alone time.
I have the best friends and brilliant, funny and inspiring people in my life. I have friends who will sit in my garden and play games through the glass and friends who will descend on my house and clean everything if I’ve sprained my ankle right before my birthday party and can’t walk. I have friends that will drive me to the station so I can catch a flight last minute after I’ve sprained the other ankle and friends who will get an airport-wheelchair and delight in wheeling me round and friends that will then try and persuade me to be sensible and get an x-ray and friends that will later drive me to the hospital drop in when I eventually concede that I should probably get the ankle checked out given it’s been a week and it’s still the size of a house. I have my amazing besties that I would love to see more of and my gorgeous niece and Sister-in-Scotland. I am incredibly blessed with brilliant people in my life and this past week has really made me realise what an amazing, security-inducing, wonderful thing that is.
However, I also really really like it when said friends cancel a plan and I get to spend an evening curled up on my sofa under a blanket, blissfully alone.
Well, this is the year of the cancelled plans. It’s all cancelled. Schools and exams. Theatres, gigs, holidays. Weddings. Commutes and going out for coffee.
So today, I decided to revel in being on my own. I turned my phone off while I was ‘at work’ (read: upstairs), painted during my breaks and spent the evening building Harry Potter Lego Hogwarts in front of the fire and it was lovely. This is the kind of thing I usually do on an evening after I’ve had a super busy week, but that’s totally the wrong attitude to have about rest.
We shouldn’t rest because it means we’ll be more productive the rest of the time. We shouldn’t be resting because we need-to-right-now-or-I’m-gonna-explode-rest, but because rest is an amazing, live-giving thing to do. Plus, it’s fun.
Harry Potter lego, people! It has working trap doors and moving staircases. It’s the best Christmas Present I ever got when I was about seven years old and, every so often, I rebuild it.
Well, given I’m currently without a housemate to be perturbed by the massive amount of mess this creates, it is definitely time for a full rebuild.
Technically allowed out tomorrow, but maybe I’ll stay in and finish reading that book.
(Probably won’t. There’s galic to buy, and all that).
Today’s top 5 benefits of self-Isolation:
- Totally acceptable to sing, loudly, while at work. When actually at work I usually try and dial this back to about 60-70% which, granted, is still quite loud. Freeing and fun to belt out ‘Jolene’ while waiting for the spreadsheet to load.
- Don’t have to wear a work lanyard. Mine is gross and needs washing which I realise every day right as I’m leaving for work, then promptly forget whenever I’m doing laundry. Never realised that necks could be so disgusting before work lanyard.
- No awkward small talk while you’re making coffee or walk past someone in a corridor.
- No one in house to judge wine consumption (not that housemate does this anyway).
- Ordered myself cream eggs because I was self-isolating. Wouldn’t have done this otherwise, but would have wanted cream eggs. Now I have cream eggs.
Today’s top 5 pitfalls of self-isolation
- When I was younger I used to be really self-conscious about my ears sticking out and had this theory that if I wore my over hear headphones for long enough that it would be a little like free ‘ear pinning’ surgery. Now have serious doubts this is true, but if headphones have been improving the angle of my ears then they’re probably going to go back to their natural setting any time now.
- Naturally create mess due to who I am as a person. Now I live in that mess.
- Getting out my Harry Potter lego has made me want more Harry Potter lego. Harry Potter lego is expensive.
- Wine in the house is finite (there’s plenty, don’t get me wrong, but there’s the knowledge that if it did run out then that’s that).
- Haven’t really been sleeping well. Probably because I’ve walked about 2m in the past week so have burnt zero energy.
Toilet roll situation: I’m gonna level with you, here. On the previous days I was estimating how much loo roll I had left based on how full the toilet roll looked from what I could remember about the last time I went to the loo. This isn’t a very scientific method, especially as I am one of those people who can’t visualise things in my head, so I was mostly just plucking a number out of the air. As a data analyst by profession (I have a badge and everything) this is Not Good Practice.
So, today I have measured. Toilet roll width comes in today at 2.2cm. A control sample of unused loo roll came in at 3.3cm. So I have used 1/3rd of the diameter but, given there is more loo roll when the diameter is bigger, I’m going to estimate that I am about half way through the loo roll. I am sure there is a more accurate way of guessing this, but I am not going to do that.
(Unless self isolation turns into a month long thing. If that happens then I absolutely will).
Pasta stocks: Well.
My Morrisons order arrived today. I put this order in a week or so ago and I am ashamed to say that I ordered some pasta without realising how much pasta I own. I then meant to go on and cancel the pasta that I ordered because I don’t want to be the panic-buying type, but I forgot.
So, pasta stocks:
- an open half packet of shells
- A unopened packet of impracticality large pasta
- Out of date lasagne sheets from the Foodbank + one packet of lasange sheets the gluten free housemate told me she has that are full of gluten-y goodness that I can eat if I am ‘running low’ (seems unlikely)
- THREE packets of spaghetti
- TWO AND A HALF packets of macaroni
I am ashamed. Am swapping 4 packets of pasta with friend for kidney beans because they were cancelled on my food delivery and we now live in a post-currency world where we are bartering for food items. #TheEndIsNigh (I would have just given her these, but she offered me the kidney beans. I like kidney beans.)
Cough: Much better.
Today’s verdict on whether I have coronavirus: Shrug face emoji.
- Morrisons for an hour to tell them I was self isolating. Not sure if this counts because I spent 67 minutes on hold and didn’t actually speak to anyone. I did, however, listen to their advert about their match and more card approximately six thousand times.
- The actual Morrisons delivery driver who told me he was in my area and he could drop off my food early. Thank you nice Morrisons man.
- Dad / Not-Scotland-Sister for remote ticket to ride.
- LOTS of work meetings. Highlight was when whole team put on the matching Christmas PJs we wore for our annual Christmas photo for a team meeting with our director (I wish I could explain the christmas photo matching PJs thing but there isn’t really an actual explanation. We just decided to do it. Other teams at work do not have christmas pictures. Needless to say, woman in shop was very confused when I bought 12 pairs of matching PJs and told her it was because my colleagues and I were doing a ‘Christmas Card picture’).
- Friend who is on the ‘needs a flu jab list’ who has been asked to socially distance for 12 weeks for a remote lunch date. Productive lunch time as this led to the satisfactory pasta-for-kidney-beans swap. Plus, I miss her and she’s great. Discussed how might be better for her to get COVID earlier on while NHS not yet overwhelmed, so offered to come over and infect her. Ultimately concluded that my inconclusive diagonsis meant this was unlikely to be worth it.
- Person from Just Eat who bought round my curry. Put in notes that I wanted a ‘contactless delivery’ but this appears to have gotten lost in translation, as he still waited for me to answer to the door. NO actual physical human contact there, but I am still sorry if you end up with Coronavirus Mr Food Deliverer! Especially as he is likely to be part of gig economy. I’m sorry!! I tried!! Even said through the door ‘just leave it there!’ but communication didn’t work out too well
- Morrisons Man! Not only did he bring me a surprising amount of food, but we also shared a moment of great humour when I had to stand on my sofa and crouch to try and show him my ID through the window and he had to squint at it with a torch to verify that he could leave my wine on my doorstep.
It is a v. strange world.
Mum’s top tip of the day: Didn’t actually speak to my mother today, but I’ve got this tidbit from yesterday.
Write down all the places that you’ve been to for the past couple of years, because you won’t be going anywhere any time soon.
Today is probably not going to go down as the most remarkable day in my existence. It was all just kinda fine. Managed to sleep in and be ‘late for work’ despite new flexible routine and indulged in my nice ground coffee and breakfast during my first meeting(s) which is more or less what I do when I actually go to work, so I suppose things are becoming normal at least.
I own instant coffee again (thanks Morrisons) so we’ll see how long I keep up the ‘enjoy the luxuries’ routine.
I did my laundry.
Turns out it doesn’t actually take that long.
(I say ‘did my laundry’. There’s still a load in the machine that I need to take out and hangup. This may or may not happen. What I mean is that the massive pile of clean clothes on the bed in the spare room is either hung up or in a neat pile. This means the last of my Christmas things are now ‘away’ — except of course for my Jeremy Corbyn Christmas jumper, which I wore yesterday).
Morrisons delivery was v. exciting. Own more food than I strictly feel comfortable with. I’m pretty anti food-waste (the kind of anti-food waste that would occasionally bring food from my fridge on a weekend away if I knew that otherwise it would go off even if this means carrying half a courgette on a three hour train journey in a backpack, but not the kind of anti food waste where I eat the token salad that they give you when you order indian take out) so I’m not entirely sure what I’m going to do with all the things. Kept adding to it while I was cooped up inside and uninspired by my fridge.
Problem is, I’m so used to batch cooking as a time saving activity that I already have plenty of food to eat. Currently, I have a
I’ve been more aware these past couple of days about the amount of time I spend multi-tasking, in the name of saving time, or whatever else. Watching a TV show while cooking; laundry-and-audiobook; tidying and talking on the phone; clearing work emails while spreadsheet loads. CHECKING MY PHONE, during literally anything. I hate that I’m so addicted to my phone. I want to BE PRESENT in the one single thing that I’m doing and give all my time and brain space to that.
That book about not hurrying hypothesizes that part of our addiction to busyness is because we’re rubbish at accepting our limitations. I will never read every book and watch every TV show and be completely up to date on work and learn six different languages and train to run marathons and be up to date on politics and the news and speak to and see every friend as much as I want to. I have so many hours in a day and I need to eat and sleep and wash, so then it comes down to working out what I actually want to prioritize and enjoying it.
I like cooking. I want to spend time cooking.
I don’t think I actually know how to cook just enough food for one meal (unless it’s those fresh stuffed ‘serves two’ pasta).
Tomorrow, will do better at enjoying things being slower and simpler, as self-isolation sentence nearly over.
Side note: if anyone wants a potentially coronavirus infected side salad from my take out, yours for collection. I’ll be in all day.
Today’s top 5 benefits of self-Isolation
- If I’d slept in till 9:20 and had to go into the office I’d have been super late
- Feel slightly morally off the hook for mild ‘panic buying’ when am stuck self-isolating, even though I ordered the pasta before I got my cough and even though I can leave the house in like… 2 days now, anyway.
- Good excuse for not returning library book (library book is more than 12 months overdue)
- Rediscovered lots of clothes when dealing with my laundry. Mostly PJS. I own a LOT of PJS.
- Can use ‘might have coronavirus’ as a good reason not to hang up clothes that are currently in the machine
Today’s top 5 pitfalls of self-isolation
- Lack of excuse for not doing laundry has meant that I’ve actually done laundry. Laundry is dull.
- As more people are doing it now have lost sense of ‘self-isolation-hipsterdom’
- Have discovered that I don’t really know the best way of getting rid of coffee grinds after you have made coffee. They just get everywhere! Try and scrape into bin, but still wash them out so that everything in dishwasher doesn’t end up covered in coffee grinds, but now sink is covered in coffee. What if it blocks up the sink?
- Use the dishwasher more than when not in the house.
- Well, it’s just a bit inconvenient, really.
I’ve actually nearly run out of ground coffee, now, so it’s probably a good thing that I’ve got some instant back in stock.
Toilet roll situation: Yup. Still on the same loo roll. Still have about 32/35ths of toilet roll left.
Pasta stocks: Exactly the same as yesterday.
Cough: better! Bad in the mornings or if I talk too much. Lungs don’t so much hurt anymore, as I am aware that my lungs exist in my chest when I breathe. Muchas improvement.
Today’s verdict on whether I have coronavirus: I guess the only reason this matters is if this means that I am then immune to future self-isolating and am allowed to hug people without the risk oF DISEASE AND DIRE CONSEQUENCES. But, I won’t know this so, eh.
- Housemate to check in. I miss her and not just because she cleans (I actually hoovered yesterday, Grace. See — sometimes it does happen!), but her beating me at mariokart and the ‘how was your day dear’ routine.
- Mother to ask what I should cook for dinner because I knew that I did not want to cook any of the things that I have in the house for dinner
- The friend who I mocked for having to self-isolate the day before me. We have planned an epic outing for when we are both free (by this I mean, we are going to the gardening center to buy plants; given everything is cancelled this year, this is the best chance I’ll ever have for keeping something in my garden alive. If I can’t do it this year, there’s no hope for me)
- Father / sisters / brothers-in-law/ mother. We’ve been playing remote board games of ‘Ticket To Ride’ on the computer while having a general group call running. I probably failed to mention we’ve done this almost every day with varying different numbers of participants. This is nice because my-sister-in-Scotland and I probably manage to call each other about once a year. I have spoken to her twice this week! And I have learnt that they don’t have any milk at the shops in Scotland, either.
- No work meetings today, but as everyone is now working from home indefinitely they have a video call setup to drop in on at various points, so chatted with a few colleagues there.
- Remote video call lunch with colleague. Now know lots about the status of her house plants.
- Friend / neighbour / colleague who dropped round a cafetiere approximately 10 minutes after mine broke and left me coffee-less. Best customer service ever!! Buy houses next to your friends, folks, it’s awesome.
- Lovely neighbour who set up the street whatsapp group who bought me round some flowers and some chocolate 🙂
- Two of my church friends who came and sat on the step in my garden and talked to me through the glass of my conservatory. So SO lovely to feel like life is a new bizarre kind of normal! We played PSYCH and Head’s up and drank wine from separate bottles with naught but a glass door separating us. Really fun. Made my heart warm (and definitely much warmer than their’s, given they were sat outside).
Also, one of them kicked over a random bucket that has been collecting rainwater and all of it went in her shoe and I laughed hard enough that it hurt the (unconfirmed) coronavirus in my lungs.
Mum’s top tip of the day:
Now is not the time to start a new fitness resume or do any aggressive spring cleaning.
(In regards to my lungs not feeling the best).
I plan to live by these words every day of my life. Going to get it tattooed onto my left buttock.
More challenging day.
Essentially my day began by:
Me: Another day of working from home freedom! Time to drink my nice ground coffee and eat my nice pancakes as a metaphor for enjoying the small wonders of life.
My cafetiere: Lol.
This is what prompted the visit from lovely friend / neighbour / colleague, who saw the message I put on my work whatsapp group about my coffee and dropped off their spare cafetiere before I’d had a chance to clean the whole thing up (yes, from a 2 meter distance). Also, while I was cleaning this up my pancakes burnt. It was quite overcast today, too, so I ate my burnt pancakes with my second attempt at coffee in my slightly cold conservatory and, to be honest with you, it didn’t really feel like a magical experience. I did find the coffee thing kind of funny, especially because the thing I’d written about it being a metaphor yesterday was pretty fresh in my mind and I’m the first to laugh at myself (sometimes the only one), but it was just…. You know, a bit more indicative of the kind of day I had.
Got a lot of work done and then started programming my spreadsheet to give me nicer error messages because the #ERROR! Is actually a little impolite (my recommendation is =IFERROR( (formula), “Sorrrryy to bother you but, uh, I think that, maybe, you might have made a little mistake there. Sorrry”). Decided I was losing my mind, so stopped work.
Also, Eurovision is cancelled. And my Easter Holiday with my two amazing besties to Malta. And Schools. And Wednesday is the day that my small group from church usually come round and we eat food and do bible study or play mario kart or whatever and I had to cancel because I am of zee plague. Church generally is cancelled; I missed the last service because I was self-isolating. Not-Scotland Sister now also self-isolating with two and a half year old niece and husband. Also, I’ve run out of garlic. I guess the latter’s not really a big deal, I just like garlic.
(Also, real stuff, like the fact that there are lots of people who aren’t as financially secure and supported by my friends and family like me. The friends I have currently looking for work and the friends that I have that are getting married in the next month or so. What’s going to happen to small and medium sized businesses and the economy and all the clients that the Debt Counselling charity I work for helps.)
Did a few laps of my garden to try and ease restlessness. Didn’t feel less restless. Instead, realised that it was cold and I haven’t mowed the lawn in approximately a decade and I’ve lost the key to my shed, so now can’t mow without removing the hinges from the door with a screwdriver or buying a bolt cutter. Pretty sure my screwdriver is in the shed. So. I’ll work it out, at some point.
Then a friend texted and said they would come and sit in my garden and we would play games and talk through the window! Brilliant pick me up. Had such a lovely time and then a lot of the church small group & I played PSYCH remotely (PSYCH! Outwit your friends app — ‘And the Truth Comes Out’, brilliant fun) and I began to feel much better about the whole thing.
Only have to do a few more days until I can go to the shop and find that you can’t buy food anymore anyway or go for walks (I’ve never done this before, but maybe I will. It could happen). Will have a really good time at the garden centre.
Today’s top 5 benefits of self-Isolation
- Socially acceptable to wear my Jeremy Corbyn Christmas Jumper even though it is March because there is NO such thing as social acceptability, because there is no socialising (except for, you know, all the socialising I mentioned above).
- Have not spent any money at all this week.
- I actually find it really easy to focus when working from home, so I made lots of progress.
- When my friends came to see me, I was the one sat inside while they were sat outside in my garden with perilous rain-water buckets and the bad weather
- People bring you things when you need them. When you’re allowed to leave the house people expect you to leave the house.
Today’s top 5 pitfalls of self-isolation
- There’s literally no excuse for the fact that I haven’t done any laundry. I like to pretend that this is because I am ‘very busy’ and ‘never at home at a convenient time to dry it’. I thought this was actually true, but it is not. I am behind on laundry because I hate laundry.
- It’s cooooollldddddd at home. Probably need to commit to the astronomical heating bill and turn it up.
- Felt guilt tripped into eating housemate’s leftover slightly sad looking parsnip, given the situation in supermarkets and finite food in the fridge.
- I didn’t look in the mirror until after video calling work colleague / friend and I looked rough. Oh well.
- Have eaten 3 home cooked meals today and yesterday so I am probably never going to fit in my jeans ever again.
Although, given going outside is more or less cancelled for everyone, not sure I really care about this.
(Did I actually ever look for the shed key?? Maybe this is another thing I could do while stuck in the house. Probably won’t, but I could.)