Chronicles of lockdown: Always lockdown, never Christmas

It’s the morning of Friday the 29th August and a humble, frustrated, intelligent and attractive young woman is wearing joggers, a PJ top and a hoodie combo, leaving a video message for a friend while making coffee. She optimistically declares that she thinks local lockdown will be lifted in the part of Bradford she’s in today, despite little to no scientific backing (while my area of Bradford has been corona-light, there were actually some cases in the preceding week. 3, or something. Not major, but enough that it’s light blue on that map thing). Despite the pretty miserable outlook of the past few weeks — partially hormone inspired and a bit because of regular old jealousy — she is cautiously optimistic, and lists some of the things that will be possible of local lockdown lifts. She signs off the message with a ‘we’ll see’ and then spends the day working in her PJs, because it’s Friday, and she made a lockdown decision ™ to drop her hours to a half day on Friday months ago, and if it’s a half day working from home getting dressed is really superfluous.

Bizarrely, she is not wrong. 

*

(Funnily enough, it took me long enough to get round to posting this that I’m back in local lockdown again, ha ha ha ha ha ha ha 😶)

*

There are a number of really, really excellent things about local lockdown restrictions being lifted. 

Number one: In a plan that was half-optimistically made a month or so ago that none of us really believed was going to happen, I am GOING TO SHEFFIELD TO SEE NORTHERN BELOVED BESTIES. It has been SIX MONTHS and I usually low-key depend on these weekends as little pockets of rest that restore my resilience levels and make my soul all happy. Plus, it’s Northern bestie’s birthday. It’s been over five years since Northern bestie and OG Northern bestie have been dating and I have a pretty solid track record of inadvertently missing her birthday, as the first week of September often = holiday. Last year I was in Disney Florida, which feels like a good reason to miss it (thank you, facebook, for the incessant reminders about that).

SIDE NOTE: Received a message from Northern bestie after last blog post declaring that she was really happy to be referred to as one of the beloved besties rather than beloved bestie’s girlfriend (I’m sorry, fiancé!!!!). So to be entirely clear, Northern bestie was ABSOLUTELY always included in written mentions of ‘beloved besties’, I was just trying to find a suitable way of differentiating when I was talking about specific ones. Northern bestie: I think you’re completely top, I’m very proud of you, you have absolutely counted as a bestie in your own right for years and I am VERY EXCITED ABOUT YOU GUYS GETTING MARRIED NEXT SUMMER. Ahem. Back to regularly scheduled programming. 

When I find out local lockdown is being lifted in my part of Bradford, send approximately six hundred messages to our group chat containing approximately six thousand exclamation marks. Nearly cry. 

Number two: long distance housemate is going to visit for a few days. We’ve seen each other once since that time she hastily packed stuff for “a week” while I said goodbye through the window into the conservatory due to my intermittent cough. I’ve posted her three lots of clothes and took a big box of things down in the car, but mostly she’s been living at her parents with a fraction of her belongings. She sends me this meme, so we decide that we’re going to have fake Christmas. I think whichever of us mentioned it first was probably joking, but twenty minutes after the phone call — and before local lockdown restrictions have actually been lifted — I’ve ordered a new Christmas tree (long distance housemate sort of broke mine when we put it up last year, so we spent the festive season with the tree propped up against the wall and pissing ourselves laughing every time we looked at it. The tree arrives five days later and the smarmy ass delivery guy says “you know it’s August, right?” because it turns out it says “XMAS TREE” on the side of the box) and the day after our phone call I find three advent calendars and a panettone in the out of date Foodbank donations.

Inspirational

Number Three: I am getting a cat!! This actually has nothing to do with local lockdown restrictions, but I do find out about it on that same Friday thanks to a nice lady from Cats Protection ringing me to say that my application has been approved.


Just be clear, while this is a lockdown decision, this isn’t a Lockdown Decision ™ entirely inspired by the nice cat that hung out on my doorstep while I was hormonal and a bit sad. I’ve been talking about adopting a cat for three years. My sister has been sending me links to various cats for three years. When I purchased my sofas — three years ago — I paid for extra insurance to cover pet damage because I fully intended to get a cat. Last October, I visited a cat. I’ve just always had commitment anxiety, or been able to find a reason not to (the most recent being that long distant housemate doesn’t really like cats), or been low key convinced that I’m not quite responsible enough to look after another living creature. I fall down stairs on days I’m supposed to be catching flights to France and get wine stains on my ceiling and keep forgetting to do something about the fact that my conservatory leaks. 

When I declare to friend that I’m ACTUALLY going to get a cat this time, she replies with ‘I’m not holding my breath’ (fair: she came with me on the meeting-the-cat-visit), but…. Have this moment of clarity when I realise I have now worked at my place of employment for five years, have had a mortgage for three years and I recently asked for a composter and a study chair as a birthday present. The labour party recently wrote to me and said I no longer qualified to pay student rates because I am turning twenty seven. Turns out, I am actually a responsible adult and quite a dull one at that. It happened. Might as well knuckle down and get myself a kitty cat. 

As is often the way with these things, nothing happens for six months, then all of these things are supposed to happen in the same week.

Proceeding week:

Feel intermittently stressed about the number of things I need to “fix” before plans. Discover I own 37 pillow cases. Break Hoover. Order Christmas dinner food and keep having to remind myself that I used to have someone live with me or stay with me all the time and used to go away for the weekend all the time and it’s not actually the end of the world if I leave the house before my to do list is finished.

Friday:

Long distance housemate is dropped off by her parents, twenty minutes after I’ve finished my morning working from PJs. In the end I decide not to get dressed because I also really need a shower and getting dressed first feels counterproductive and I don’t have time to do both, so I do the meet the parents thing in my PJs. The parents have a drink (of caffeine, not alcohol) for the road and later say to long distance housemate that I am ‘clearly very comfortable with who I am’ which is a nice way of saying that I am a total weirdo, but happy about it,  which is definitely a backhanded insult I’ll be using in the future. To be fair, much of our conversation is based around Housemate & my big fake christmas plans, which is mildly ridiculous. 

Have lunch with housemate, shower, pack and then jump on the train to Sheffield. While, yes, it’s illogical for these things to overlap, that’s sort of how it panned out and…. To be fair, it was a lot like this when we actually lived together. Housemate never did catch probable-coronavirus from me, mostly because when we backtracked we realised that we basically lived in different time zones and hadn’t actually seen each other for a week at the point where I got ill. Still, it does feel a little odd merrily leaving long distance housemate at my house, but at least I have a tomato-sitter.

And then, and then, I am in Sheffield.

Finally. Finally. Finally!!!!!!

Obviously, because I’ve been looking forward to and hoping this for months and months, I come down with a migraine, go to bed early and wake up at 4am to throw up a lot in their bathroom, which isn’t very corona friendly. Soz, folks. 

Saturday:

Begin the day with a breakfast of paracetamol, aspirin and half a litre of water. We had big intentions to get food from this vegan junk food restaurant / take out place this evening, which is the source of a few jokes because the last time we’d planned to go there, I had the mother of all migraines and spent literally the entire weekend in bed or throwing up. I’d already thrown up twice when we walked to the restaurant for lunch and I’d optimistically thought that I was done with the vomiting and that the fresh air would make me feel better. What actually happened is that the second I smelt the food, I had to immediately leave to throw up again. The place is small enough not to have a loo, so I wound up throwing up on the street like the class act I am. That November-weekend was what inspired me to go back to the doctors ask them if they could do something about the damn things, because I was so sad that I didn’t get to spend any actual time with the besties that on the Saturday night I just laid in bed and cried to due a mixture of the pain and knowing that I’d lost my once chance to hangout with my besties that month. (Obviously, I left the drugs they gave me at home).

In comparison to that migraine, this whole thing is much less dramatic and by lunch time I manage to eat food and play a couple of games of mario kart before it’s evident that it’s not really a good idea. We watch Supernanny and play games and chat and drink coffee and it feels like everything is normal and good and lovely. There is cake and birthday presents and assigned ends of the sofa because ~social distancing~ and actually feel alive enough for vegan junk food.

Northern Bestie has been shielding and, at this point, has gone further than the end of the garden twice. Her report from the first instance was she managed to social distance quite well, apart from this drunk guy at the park who came at her rambling very loudly about football. We all decide to walk the five / ten minutes through the park to pick up our food, and we run into the same drunk man spouting monologues to football at no one, which brings a nice sense of symmetry to things. 

Vegan junk food is good. Sheffield is good. I lose at Mario Kart. 

Sunday:

Have traditional our-weekend brunch with Northern besties then play a few more games before I have to leave to go get the train. Feel much better than I have in weeks and we have another weekend scheduled together in a few weeks. Plus, am not going home to empty house, but to housemate who has purchased things for dinner because I am playing that game where I put off going to the shop until my Morrisons delivery, which is due that night.


As it turns out, I completely lose that game because a bottle of something smashes in my order and they end up not bringing £45 out of a £100 food shop. This is actually a disaster, because this is the Christmas foodshop and it’s effectively fake christmas eve. This is the mulled wine, sprouts and stuffing foodshop. I email Morrisons and (politely) explain that they’ve ruined fake christmas and that it’s all well and good refunding me for the items they didn’t bring, but I kinda wanted those items. Have no idea how else I’m going to source mulled wine before tomorrow and feel an impending sense of doom. It’s strange that even fake Christmas has the ability to be kind of stressful. 

Monday:

Fake Christmas day!! (Yes, this means I booked the day off work to have fake christmas. I have absolutely no regrets about this).

 Breakfast of out of date panettone (Foodbank find) and mimosas in our matching Christmas PJs (we didn’t buy these especially; this is from the work christmas card where our whole team wore the same PJs. I do not know if this is better or worse). We also dress up Boris because, well, it’s that kind of day. If you’re going to commit to full on festivities in the first week of September, you might as well dress up the teddy. 

The out of date vegan sugar-free advent calendar turns out to be as disappointing as you’d expect that collection of words to be. I don’t even make it through December 1st. To be fair, this is relatively accurate to my track record with advert calendar. Have one of those cloth ones that you fill yourself and my lovely mother sends me a big bag of chocolate and goodies to fill it with every November. I still have some of the chocolate left from Advent 2018. Housemate, however, sat and ate the entirety of her advert calendar in one sitting in the second week of December last year. This is not repeated with the out of date vegan sugar free chocolate.

Next, we put up my brand new Christmas tree while blasting out Christmas tunes, to the real delight of all my neighbours. No festive casualties this year and am very happy with new tree. At this point, we’ve changed into coordinating Santa and Elf costumes (both mine) and housemates accepts the first delivery of the day dressed as Santa. Delivery guy does not mention it.

Instead of purchasing gifts for Christmas, we decided to practice the spirit of gratitude by stealing some of each other’s belongings, wrapping them up and giving them back to the original owner. Housemate does an EXCELLENT job, here and (re)gifts me:

  • A large phallic shaped mug that my uni-housemates once purchased for me from Amsterdam. Not entirely sure why I still own this. Not only is the handle of the mug a giant penis, it is also hollow, which means if you drink a hot beverage out of the mug the penis-handle gets so hot you have to hold it with a tea-towel. At uni, it used to be a fun game of ‘which member of the church group should we give the giant dick mug to’ but… I am about to turn twenty seven. Maybe it’s time.
  • A copy of my own book, The Name on Your Wrist. No one’s ever got me this book before. Quite thoughtful, really. Would have been a double gift if she’d actually paid for it, as in a year’s time I’d get 70p in royalties. 
  • A sachet of cat food
  • Most of our herbs, in homage to that time I got really pissy about her using the last of the basil. 
  • An empty bottle of tomato feed. 

I give her  a copy of a book she leant me that I spilt coffee on, some Rhibenna mulled punch that went out of date in March 2017 and a copy of two books that everyone got free from our employer. Both very satisfied with our gifts. 

Another amazon delivery arrives. I answer in my elf outfit. He, once again, does not mention it.

Change into the third Christmas outfit of the day — Christmas jumpers & matching socks — for Christmas crafts and beginning our Christmas jigsaw while watching Christmas Friends Episodes. I head to Asda to pick up the things that Morrisons failed to bring us. Can’t for the life of me find mulled wine, so commit hard and buy cloves, star anise, etc etc — and then we head out on our Christmas walk. 

No one we walk past mention the Christmas jumpers. 

Next stop: Christmas dinner & crackers. At this point, the whole thing feels positively normal and we are having the best day. Stuff faces with stuffing and roast potatoes and sprouts.

Finish the day with mulled wine, watching Christmas Mingle (a heartwarming and inspirational film about a woman who makes the step to expand her dating horizons by pretending to be a Chrstian and joining Christian Mingle — because we all know that the best way to expend the dating pool is to search for Christian men- —  eventually finding the Lord. Please note that I am being mildly sarcastic. It is a TERRIBLE film. You should absolutely watch it), receiving a video of our friends carol singing and making almost no progress on our christmas jigsaw. 

So. Much. Fun. 

Tuesday:

Have to work. Being forced to attend meetings on fake boxing day is clearly a violation of my human rights. May join a union. 

Thursday:

In a truly poetic turn of events, housemate mother gets ill with not-coronavirus, so housemate is stuck. Amusingly, she’d been paranoid about packing for a week and getting stuck for six month, so she’d packed almost everything she owns. Unfortunately, she left all her bottom-half-clothes in the car.

Friday:

Cats protection call and say can’t have cat tomorrow as he’s got a stomach upset. Probably a good thing, as I still have long distance housemate staying.

Saturday:

Housemate still here (love ya girl).

Monday:

Alone again! Am taking the week off to recover.

Wednesday:

Morrisons finally apologise for ruining  fake Christmas and refund me £3.50 for delivery.

Go crash family holiday.

Friday:

Think “will be nice to have a bit of alone time” on the way home from holiday and Boris Johnson promptly puts me back in local lockdown, starting from my birthday.

FFS.

*

Top 5 things about being around people:

  1. “I’ve popped the kettle on. Do you fancy a brew?”
  2. Eating meals with another human being. This is SO nice. I don’t think I ever appreciated this before. Even though I was working the rest of the week and housemate was out and about seeing people etc, so nice to have points at the day where you come together and chat over food. We don’t tend to eat the same things because I’m veggie and housemate is gluten free onion free garlic free and the intersect of foods we can both eat that taste nice tends to be a little small. But, still! Am convinced that when housemate comes back for good, will intentionally try to eat together. Also, also, also, also, when another human cooks you dinner. Man, that is the best. OOOh. Or when another human PLANS AND COOKS you dinner and you just show up with your appetite and an empty plate. Nom.
  3. The god stuff. SOO nice to watch Online-Church with another person. Pray with another real life person, who is in your room. Worship with a real life person. Soooo good.
  4. Stuff is MORE FUN and there are more options. Mariokart. Board games. Watching TV together. Cooking. Making tea & coffee. Putting together your new composter and using it as a giant tombola to decide what to do with the rest of the evening. Complaining about your migraine. Seeing someone open their birthday presents, not over video call.
  5. Makes you remember how much you love alone time again. (Until you’re sat in your very quiet house, again, thinking ‘so… guess this is it for a while.’)

At least I have a cat now.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s