(50) Days of Lockdown

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)

General:

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. 

Simple. 

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.

And, repeat.

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. 

Day 49

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.

And….

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.

However.

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.

Also.

I don’t want to deal with the dead bird. 

Adulthood sucks. 

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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. 
  3. Built, disassembled, and returned the entire Harry Potter Lego collection to the loft.  
  4. Read 11 books. In a week. Whoops.
  5. 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.)
  6. Maintained interest in garden for over a month, including mowing lawn twice (!!!)
  7. Won weekly remote pub quiz with beloved besties 4 times 
  8. Finally put sofas back to where they’re supposed to be when the Christmas tree isn’t up 
  9. 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.
  10.  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:

  1. 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)
  2. Locating and purchasing fence paint, although significant efforts have been made to this end. It is really, really hard to by fence paint.
  3. Hoovering the stairs. Who cares? Honestly, it’s not like it affects anyone else.
  4. Finding a number for Ryanair that I can ring to get them to change our travel credit into actual bank credit
  5. Creating a new routine centered around fitness, wellness and meditation that will transform my life for years to come.
  6. Going to bed when my phone tells me to go to bed (again; not lockdown specific)
  7. Being on time to Church
  8. Being on time for work (except that night with the insomnia where I was, in fact, an hour and a half early)
  9. Being on time for social activities
  10. Discovering the identity of my mystery milkmen

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