180 days of lockdown

Toilet roll situation: Yes, I own some. Stocks are depleting faster than normal due to crying alone into my takeout.

Pasta stocks: Pasta supplies have been replenished by large quantities of pasta that has been donated to the foodbank with split bags. This means that we can’t give it out, so…. Muchas pasta for me. This is mostly a good thing, although it did lead to an incident in which my cat — who is quite into human food — opened a bag of partially open spaghetti with his claws and ate some of it. Dried pasta. Dried pasta. He’s an odd munchkin. 

Mum’s top tip of the week: Not a top tip, but my mother did recently knit me some leg warmers. And some fingerless gloves with snowman on. We’re a really cool family.

The Road So Far

March 14th: Develop a persistent cough, return home to self isolate for 7 days. 

March 21st: FREEDOM

March 23rd: National Lockdown starts

July 4th: FREEDOM

August 1st: Local Lockdown begins

September 4th: FREEDOM

September 22nd: Local Lockdown reinstated

October 14th: Local lockdown usurped by ‘Tier 2’ 

November 2nd: Tier 2 usurped by Tier 3

November ??th: National lockdown, take two. (Probably??)

December 24th: Cruelly deprived of a proper Christmas, the author goes on a festive ramage, hugs strangers, goes to visit her mother, aggressively cooks people Christmas Dinner and feeds it to them in her home.  The author sings Christmas songs within 2 meters of other individuals, makes vicious demands for carol services, goes on holiday, visits her friends and starts having in depth conversations with her Christmas Tree. 


I intended to update this sooner, but I’ve been riding a distinct wave of Lockdown en-rage (like ennui, but angrier) and everything I wrote was distinctly grumpy, whiny and self-pitying. I don’t think it’s necessarily a good look on me, so I decided to spare you all. However, with rumours of National Lockdown looming, I thought I’d compile some of things I have learned over the past seven months.

I have now been doing this crap for 180 days, so you could say I’m a bit of an expert.

FYI, that’s about 80% longer from some of you bastards who have avoided local lockdowns / tiers (here’s looking at you, southerners), so I reserve the right to be 80% more grumpy than any of you. The only people who get any of my sympathy are those from Leicester or that other part of Bradford that didn’t get that 19 day respite. Or people who’ve been shielding. Or maybe those in Scotland/ Wales / NI because I haven’t been keeping track of the rules there. Or people who are going to be significantly financially affected. Or people whose families are further away. Or, well.. Whatever. The point is that I hate you all and am definitely, definitely past my lockdown en-rage

Helen’s guide to surviving lockdown measures 

  1. If you can’t see your friends or family, you can buy company.  By which I mean a cat. Just a mere £95 donation to cat’s protection (plus the money on litter trays, cat trees, cat food, litter, toys, insurance…. ) and there will be someone to watch TV with you for the next 12-15 years, unless the cat is busy doing cat-things. Or eating. Or kicking litter all over the front room. Or fighting the blinds. Or hiding. Or sleeping. Or if you scared the cat by spontaneously singing or laughing. 

Introducing — Bertrand Hiorns-Russel (mostly known as Bertie)!

  1. If you can’t see your beloved besties, replace them with inanimate objects. For my birthday this year, Northern Bestie bought me an Elsa doll to represent OG Northern Bestie & and Barbie that represents her. Then London Beloved Bestie independently bought me a ‘peepee plush’ (AKA, a ‘giant cuddly penis’) after we laughed a lot at this website a million years ago. So now they sit on my sofa and are with me always.
  1. If no one’s happy to see you when you get home (from your trip to the supermarket / six thousandth walk of the month), create the illusion! If you are not prepared to go full feline-solution to this problem, you can just use a large teddy and place him in the window, eagerly anticipating your homecoming. I missed you too, Boris.
  1. It’s still a conversation if no one answers. Just ask creepy men on dating websites everywhere, even if you get no response, if you keep talking it still counts. Thank you to my tomato plants, Boris and Berite for such excellent conversations in the last seven months.

5. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and no one is looking. I now own four pairs of jogging bottoms and two different types of dry shampoo. 

6. You can always work around restrictions placed upon you. It may not be ideal, but there’s always a work around. For example, the pull string on my bathroom light has been broken since August, so I’ve been primarily showering in the steadily-decreasing daylight hours and leaving the door open so I have the light from the corridor. Not ideal but workable. Also discovered my front room lights intermittently flash (quick enough that it’s imperceptible) and may-or-may-not trigger my Bubble Buddies epilepsy, so she hasn’t been coming into my house. The electrician is too busy to come look at it, but now I’ve bought lamps! Workarounds, my friends. Also true of lockdown restrictions. Probably. For example, hanging out with your friends in the park is allowed (if there’s less than six) and that’s always very practical and convenient

7. Practice gratitude. This is scientifically proven to make you happier and all that jazz. So instead of thinking ‘well this is annoying, I’m now showering in the dark’ think ‘at least no one is allowed in my house, so I am the only person inconvenienced by having no light in my bathroom’. 

8. Remember the things that you are allowed to do. It is not currently illegal for me to do my laundry or my washing up. Yes, I have been legally allowed to be in the same room as my mother for 40 days since March, but reorganising the tupperware cupboard is totally legal and corona safe. Obviously, I’m not going to do those things, but it’s good to know your options.

(Also, pottery painting with bubble, pumpkin picking, pumpkin carving in the garden,walks and rainy picnics with my niece. Virtual — and virtually impossible — Halloween quizzes with the beloved besties. Bubble Sunday dinners and bubble cups-of-coffee. Reading books under blankets, lie-ins, hanging out with the cat).

9.) Remember your experiences and problems are not unique. It’s super easy to get into a rut or get into a habit of trying to justify your pain ahead of other people, because you have to live with yours all the time. However, chances are, you are not alone. For example, the other week when I was cat sitting for a friend and I somehow managed to stain her cat with lipstick (no, I did not snog the cat; I am not saying this again). I found it very encouraging that the internet confirmed I am not the only person whose had this problem.

10. Accept the things you cannot change and change literally anything within your power that’s left. Such as your hair. As I have been taught by many films about breakups, there is nothing more empowering than changing your hair. Guaranteed to make you feel like you are in charge of your own destiny for at least five minutes (three and a half, in lockdown situations).

11. Celebrate past successes to remind yourself that you’re not (just) an unproductive hermit who hasn’t seen another real life human for five days. Such as looking at reminding yourself of the book you published, many moons ago. Unfortunately, this tactic doesn’t necessarily work well if Amazon have randomly replaced the front cover of your book with a book entitled ‘Why your life sucks (and what you can do about it)’.

(I have looked up the book, because I would really like to know what I can do about it).

12. Do nice things for other people. Like volunteer at your local foodbank! And if, say, your lift-to-foodbank’s car breaks down on your driveway and is still waiting for the RAC man by the time you’ve finished up, it’s nice to offer to keep hold of the keys and give them to the RAC in the morning. This is especially good if you are also holding the keys for foodbank, because you can feel very responsible and internally call yourself the ‘keeper of the keys’ and perform a Hagrid impression for the cat.

SUB POINT TO POINT 12: However, if you do offer to hold keys for the foodbank / friend’s car, it is considered polite to actually be conscious when the RAC man / Foodbank manager turns up to collect the keys. If, say, the RAC man arrives earlier than expected, it is probably a good idea to put your phone on loud so you don’t miss three phone calls from friend who owns car. Or two from Foodbank Manager. Alternatively, it is a good idea to actually wake up when your alarm goes off, rather than staying completely dead-to-the-world until Foodbank Manager throws a rock at your window.

If all else fails, make sure that you are wearing appropriate PJs for when you blearily run down stairs to open the door and find both Foodbank Manager and RAC man waiting for their keys.

13. Support local businesses.  Such as your local chinese take out. And your local indian takeout. And your local pizza place. The burger place. The off licence, etc.  Cheerfully declare ‘just doing my bit for the economy’ as you eat your fourth takeout of the week and drink everything. 

14. Capitalism is the answer. If all else fails, there’s nothing  some targeted-shopping can’t fix (another thing I have learned from those break-up films). Last week, I spent away my pain by preparing for a depressing winter of only ever seeing most of the people I care about in the cold / rain /dark (or in fact, not at all), by buying thermal socks, micro fleeces, fleece-lined leggings and a torch. Oh, and outdoor lighting for my garden, given there were two whole weeks when it wasn’t illegal for me to have someone come to my garden. Sadly, we are being moved into tier 3 before I could get the lights out the box. So now they’re a depressing reminder that I have no power over my life and of the cruel cycle of hope and disappointment that is trying to make plans to make yourself feel better while isolated, fed up and lonely. Apart from that though, the spending thing works a treat. 

Also bought a nice plant.

15. You’re not doing it alone if your pet is with you. In my case, this is particularly true if the thing you are trying to do is consume food. Or throwing up. Or working from home.

Here’s a picture of my intended breakfast. I did not eat any of it.

Happy National lockdown again everyone! (Probably)

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