Local Lockdown Ennui

Toilet roll situation: Ran out of loo roll!!! Finally happened!! I mean, I actually got down to 3 rolls then made a mental note to buy some more which I later forgot until 4am, at which point I blearily grabbed my phone and emailed my work email (side note: emailing my work email to remind me to do something feels a lot weirder now that I pick it up from my sofa. It’s kinda like I’m just emailing downstairs, which would actually be totally cool). 

Pasta stocks: I’m going to level with you here. I’m too lazy to get up and find out how much pasta I own. Presumably, I own some pasta. 

Mum’s Top Tip of the week: 

Last week, my brilliant, determined and very hard working sister finished her nursing degree after a long slog.  We celebrated with a family zoom call, mini bottles of prosecco (for me) and comparing conversatories because we are middle class AF. In classic zoom fashion, we timed out of the meeting (introvert pro tip:  Zoom’s handy meeting limit is also good at providing an external limit to social situations. Much easier to text ‘was lovely to see you — need to go on’ after you’ve been kicked out than saying ‘I need to leave to literally do nothing’ during the call. More golden wisdom like this continued below). 

My grandma was a little confused about what happened with the call ending, so popped a message on our whatsapp asking what was going on.

It should be noted that at this point my Mum was at my sister’s to provide childcare while my sister & brother-in-law navigated both of them working shifts with a toddler, and that they had opted for the full sized bottle of prosecco. It should also be noted that apparently my Mum — who taught me everything I know about wine drinking (ish) —  can’t hold her prosecco very well. She was slightly giggly and slightly loud during the first zoom call which was apparently the result of two glasses of prosecco.  And, as my dad and other-sister scrambled together to set up a new link, my mother attempted to explain to my grandma the deal. 

According to my mother:

I think someone sends you another drink.

Now that’s a service I’m here for.

(Actually, my parents have become the lockdown wine-fairies and sporadically send wine deliveries to my house because alcohol is their love language, so really I do have this service.  This week, the wine company rang me ‘concerned’ because I hadn’t put in an order for a while and I had to explain that my parents have just been shipping it to my address. Feel like I should be ‘concerned’ about their ‘concern’, but I am not. Because I have wine).

Lockdown: in, out, in out, shake it all about

As of the 31st July, I am one of them lucky folks back on local lockdown. 

I would love to tell you that I have been taking this with dignity and grace, but that would be a lie. 

Initially, I was more annoyed about the Eid-Eve thing and the communication thereof than the actual impact on my life and I sort of shrugged it off with a ‘it’s coming for us all’ and ‘we’ve done it before’ and ‘I had a good run with those four weeks I was allowed to go into someone else’s house’ and ‘man this is a really odd collection of rules, but okay’. 

This week I traded that in for compiling a long list of people I hate. This includes:

  • People who are on a beach because all I want in the whole world is to be on a beach.
  • People who are furloughed because they at least get to not work and I would like to not be at work (I know this one is particularly unfair and ungracious, because I am aware that furlough is also uncertain and stressful)
  • People who don’t work during the summer because they don’t have to try and work when it’s a thousand degrees 
  • People who have cars and can do things like drive places like say, I don’t know, a beach. 
  • People who have just been on holiday, who look all relaxed and happy and like they’ve a nice time. Bastards.
  • People who have a holiday booked and are doing that counting down thing, or say things like ‘it’s nice to have something to look forward to’.
  • People who ask me if I have any time off booked and I have to say “well no… not really. I don’t fancy going away on my own so….”
  • People who live with people and are therefore still allowed to do things with people, like go eat food out or watch tv together or, I don’t know, GO ON HOLIDAY SOMEONE PLEASE TAKE ME ON HOLIDAY
  • People who don’t live in a local lockdown area, so are allowed to do things with other people, like go eat or watch TV or, I don’t know, GO ON A DAMN HOLIDAY. 

In my defence of my awful and rampant jealousy (I’ve never really thought of myself as someone prone to jealousy until this pandemic but, daym, and it’s horrible. How do you make it go away?), I am a complete disaster when it’s this hot. I can’t sleep, I get headaches, I get nauseous and I get very, very cranky.

But, also. It’s August 13th as I write this. I went into self isolation on the 13th March. Since then, there has been four weeks when I have been allowed to be in the same room as another person. I have spent the same amount of time being allowed to have anyone in my home as not this year.

(Well, I actually have had a support bubble as a single adult household since June 13th, but that’s still three months of me and Boris rattling around and it sort of ruins a good whinge. My bubble buddies are top, though. There have been dinners and wine and cheese and Mariokart and just popping over for a coffee. My first hug was bloody incredible and I nearly cried and I got to go into their house!!! And my bubble knows how to have a kick ass wine and cheese night and, oh yeah, I definitely forgot that one of said bubble filmed us doing fake wine reviews and I should probably track and trace the footage and have it destroyed. Also, did I mention the hugs?)

Alas, as a wise man once said, we must try not to sink beneath our anguish, Harry, but battle on. 

(Of course, Dumbledore was actually being a sarcastic little shit when he said that, but it’s still a good quote).

So, let’s go back in time to when I was less of a moody so-and-so. 

An introverts guide to (temporarily 🙄) leaving lockdown: 

  1.  Use the rules to your advantage

We’ll kick off where we left off: my first gathering of more than one other person in my garden and the first face to face group-social in months, set the morning after my last blog post. Scones in the garden.

Spoiler alert: it rained. 

However, we are British. Couldn’t be arsed to find my umbrella, so instead give friends the parasol-thing (quasi-waterproof and about as wind proof as a regular umbrellas – AKA not at all – brilliant moment when the whole thing flew off taking a plant pot and the milk bottle top with it) and then attached Ikea bag to washing line to fashion an ingenious awning. Turns out the bamboo canes from garden are exactly the right size to hold this open. Look like a tit, but am dry. Then fourth friend shows up with a champing chair and an anorak so massive she puts it on over her and the chair. Feel much better about my own waterproofing (love you really, pal).

We sit in the rain and chat. Is properly, properly lovely and feel lots of warm and fuzzy things. And also I feel damp, because it is raining, and ikea waterproofing only works if I keep hold of the straps. 

At this point, they are unable to come in and use my bathroom. This is where my first introvert pro-tip comes in: if you give them enough cups of tea, the social interaction can only last as long as their bladder. Introvert win. 

  1.  Be flexible 

So, it’s tipping it down with rain and you can’t have the garden based lunch you planned? So, you can’t sit on the picnic tables as you expected because they’re locked up? So, you’re wandering around after your Foodbank shift with three supermarket purchased sundaes and three gradually being-diluted-by-the-rain-cups-of-tea?

No problem!

It’s perfectly acceptable to have tea and dessert in a random bus shelter in the middle of a downpour. Perfectly. Acceptable.

Introvert pro-tip: the rain puts a time limit on things too. 

  1. It’s important to take time to yourself 

Remember, just because you’ve been locked in a house alone for three months doesn’t mean you actually like people. As people start expecting you to enter real life again and do things like… socialise in person and… leave the house and… stop talking to giant teddies called Boris, carve out some Quality Introvert time.

As always with quality time, it’s not about just being in the same room with no one. It’s about enjoying the experience of being on your own. Finding things that you enjoy more on your own. Time does not equal quality time.

For example, I took a week off (mostly because I realised I’d only used my annual leave to volunteer at foodbank, forced bank holidays and two other days else where; this does not a very relaxed Helen make) and fully embraced the fake holiday life. By which I mean I went for walks in the park, read books, made myself iced coffee and…

And, yes, I sat in my bikini in the three inches of water in the paddling pool that my three year old niece rejected as being too small. 

Would I do it again? Absolutely.

Do my neighbors think I’m odd? Yes, yes they do. 

Do I regret the delivery guy showing up while I was sat in the paddling pool in my bikini? Yes. 

(As a solution to my want to be on holiday angst I’m not sure repeating this experience is the one. I enjoyed myself and it was restful and relaxing, but I’ve done the annual leave to sit around my house thing now)

  1. Maintain healthy rhythms

Once upon a time in a world long long ago, there was no coronavirus and my besties and I would spend one weekend every month together drinking wine or cocktails, watching telly, playing games, eating food and R E L A X I N G. Haven’t seen London bestie in real life since February and haven’t seen Northern besties since that time I came down with coronavirus while in their house and had to leave back in March. 

(If if wasn’t for this stupid local lockdown I’d be SEEING THEM RIGHT NOW. I hate coronavirus). 

However, now we have weekly online cards against humanity, psyche and video chats. Oh, and me and OG northern bestie have instituted Drag Race Sunday’s, where after I’ve watched online church we watch an episode of Drag Race over Netflix watch party because I am a well rounded individual.

  1. Give up healthy rhythms 

Am I going to go for a walk every day of my life for the rest of time? No. 

Do I believe that it is broadly good for me and was a really great thing I got out of lockdown? Yes. 

Am I going to feel bad about immediate dissolving of good discipline now things are more normal? No. 

  1. Take things slow 

What we’re really looking for here is someone saying “So what have you done this weekend now X rule has changed and you can do Y?”

And you realize that you forgot to make any plans to see the people and that you should probably do that.

Evening in with Boris

(Just not TOO slow. Who knows when those rules are going to change again?)

  1.  Family is a bit like a contagious disease (but in a nice way). Nothing for months, then one case tends into a social contact pandemic (but a nice one) 

I usually see my family quite a lot and I found not seeing them really hard. There was a time when the concept of seeing my parents made me have a little cry and when the concept of missing my niece’s third birthday felt quite likely and really painful. I saw my sister last that time we-shared-a-cocktail-and-I-may-have-given-her-coronavirus-in-March and I hadn’t seen my parents since Christmas, cause the week they were supposed to stay was when I was self-isolating. 

And then, the floodgates opened. 

McDonalds in my garden with sister & brother in law, with fake-prosecco and, of course, adequate social distancing and what not. So good to see them.

And then — parents! Soooooo nice. Got a bit emotional about not being able to hug my mum before they came, but then they were in my garden and she’d sewn me some masks and bought me an entire cake. Went for a classic lockdown walk and had pizza in the garden and felt a bit emotional again when they left.

That was probably a bit dramatic, because two weeks later they were back with my niece, sister and brother in law for a garden BBQ (in the slight rain) and after that they were allowed in my house (!!) and we ate nachos. 

And then, two weeks later, they’re back again, only this time they stayed for three nights so that we can all go to my niece’s 3rd birthday day-out and we do things like go to a restaurant (!!!!) and go to tourist attractions (!!!). When they go home, they take me with them and I stay at my parents house for three nights and work from there.

I left Bradford.

This was actually very anxiety inducing because I have never left my tomato plants alone before and it was supposed to be very hot, but I gave my Bubble Buddy the key to my house and she did an excellent job at keeping them company and no one died (and I think she enjoyed the change of scenery). 

In retrospect, I wish I’d just booked the time off and taken a proper break while I was at my parents, because I was only there Wednesday-Friday and I worked all of it. Still, I got to see one of my best friends in the whole world in person (!!!) and we went for walks, went out for dinner and even — this one was wild — went to a bar. 

On the way back, we take a detour to sister and Brother-in-law’s house and take niece to a place where there are penguins and a make-shift stage for her to perform Ring-around-the-Rosie which I think was a remarkable satirical commentary on the the current pandemic, given that she is three. At this point, I have gone from spending an average of twenty three hours a day completely alone to spending six days in a house with other people, going outside, going inside to places where there are other people and am possibly more tired than I’ve ever been in my life.

I say to long-distant-housemate ‘putting myself on fake lockdown after a very busy week last week’. Then the government did it for me. Damnit. 

  1. Plants talk less than people

Also, you can eat (some of) them. Nom nom nom.

Top 5 things about being back in local lockdown:

  1. More time to listen to Taylor Swift’s new album on repeat for hours
  2.  … got nothing.
  3. Nope.
  4. No
  5. If it’s an effective measure against rising infections then it’s good that less people will catch coronavirus and suffer serious health implications and it will ultimately be better for everyone.

One thought on “Local Lockdown Ennui

  1. I know what you mean about furlough! I’ve been working from home all the way through, whilst a load of people have been getting paid 80% of their salaries to do nothing … which I totally understand is not their fault, but still. And then we were told that, because we were working normal hours, we couldn’t carry our holidays over until next year, so will have to use them now, when it’s getting cold, wet and dark, whereas the furlough rules say that people getting paid 80% to do nothing can carry their holidays forward to next year! It may be ungracious to moan, but I think we’re entitled 🙂 …

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