When the UK went into lockdown on 23rd March I decided that I really had to remain positive and make the most of this time to learn some new skills, and get on with all those household projects that I had always meant to do, but never got round to.
I also suggested to the rest of my locked down family that they, likewise, should use this time profitably by learning to touch type or learn a new language. I created an extensive list of proficiencies to acquire including meditation, knitting and bread making as well as writing my blog, of course. I even went so far as to design a daily or hourly planner of my activities:
Of course, the biggest stress when leaving the house in these COVID Days is observing the 2 Metre Rule. I had never before given much thought to exactly what 2 metres looks like in real terms, so I decided that the best way to estimate this was to picture it as a George Clooney height cutout lying down.
This image has, however, got me into trouble. This morning I was outside Boots Chemists and there was a long queue. I was so busy swerving around trying to give everyone a ‘George Clooney’ that I completely overshot the door to the chemists, and ended up trying to get into the adjacent (and closed) dry cleaners. As I knew I had a bit of an audience watching my blunder I had to mutter ‘Oh Crikey! I can’t believe they are shut,’ as I turned and back tracked to join the queue.
In fact, all social norms have been turned on their heads. Pre-lockdown, you shook hands in a meeting, and patted, hugged or kissed your mates. Now these salutations would be seen as just the worst and rudest thing you could possibly do. Treating your friends like lepers is actually PC these days.
Whilst out on a jog (or rather a fast walk) yesterday I was stumped. On one pavement I had a lady with 2 children on tricycles and on the other I had 3 dog walkers with dogs. This left me no alternative but to run straight down the middle of the main road just to keep a ‘George Clooney’ on either side. I duly received nods of appreciation all round for my swift actions. Two months ago, this would have been seen as barking mad and downright rude.
On the issue of barking, I was walking the dogs in the park the other day and as usual my waggy housemates bounded up to say ‘Hello’ to another dog. The owner started screaming ‘GET YOUR DOGS AWAY, GET THEM AWAY! CORONAVIRUS!’ Honestly, anyone would think I had set 2 Pit Bull Terriers on her pooch. The problem is my dogs don’t know the ‘George Clooney Rule’ and if they did, I suspect their fantasy bitch would be a lot shorter than 2 metres when lying down.
Of course, other things you must not do in public are cough or sneeze. Even a slight clearing of the throat will lead people to believe you have the ‘C’ Word. A sneeze is basically the new equivalent of letting out wind from your bottom half. You must try and conceal it at all times. I have found the only way to do this is to pull your jumper over your head at the critical moment. OK, it does mean that you are revealing a naked torso and a faded M&S bra to the world, but that is way less shocking than THE SNEEZE. If you are a guy, and reveal a faded M&S bra to the world, that is a different issue…
What really worries me is what is going to happen when we do finally go back to normal. Will we ever kiss, pat and hug again, or will we just bow at each other from a distance? Will we all be ‘Turning Japanese’ as the song goes?
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Ok, I admit it, I haven’t spent every single day since Lockdown started in my pyjamas, watching TV and eating chocolate. I have actually got a little voluntary job. My Mum lives in a retirement village where 91 elderly residents are in total lockdown for 3 months.
As a result, there are a lot of folks who need food shopping doing and prescriptions collecting. I am that person. This means that most days I have to extract myself from my leisurewear and brave the outside world.
Rules Of Social Distancing
I have been known to queue outside Sainsbury’s three times in one day. What strikes me most about this is how differently people interpret the whole ‘social distancing’ concept. Hours and hours of standing in supermarket carparks, with a trolley, has actually made me one of the world’s leading specialists on this topic. On the whole people can be divided into three groups:
The ‘I don’t give a toss about all this’ Group
These are generally males, under the age of 25. They stand as close as they can to you, so you can feel their breathe on your neck, they usually come in gangs, wear baseball caps and pyjama bottoms, and play with their mobile phones incessantly
The ‘I am aware and doing the right thing’ Group
These have bothered to get fully dressed. The women have a little touch of lip gloss and mascara on, as this supermarket trip is a ‘big day out’, and they studiously keep to the 2 metre rule, whilst clutching their selection of sturdy shopping bags and a neat shopping list
The ‘Come anywhere near me and I will kill you before COVID’ Group
These are usually 60+ women, with pearl earrings, who have not let their grey hair grown out, they probably play bridge in normal circumstances, and are wearing full PPE. If you get within 6 metres of them, or merely sniff in their direction, you will probably get a look to kill. However, it is difficult to make out what their facial features are doing underneath the ski googles and face masks.
Once you have finally made it into the store and are elated to find yourself in the fruit and veg aisle, Group 1 handle every carrot and tomato before selecting, whereas Group 3 wait until there is absolutely NO ONE else in the vicinity, before dashing to grab produce only in pre-packed bags.
Supermarket Trolley Dash
Should you meet one of this Group head on, you must either reverse your supermarket trolley and go down the next aisle, or sprint past, with your face turned to the side, whilst shouting ‘Sorry! Sorry!’ Anything less apologetic would mean that you would never be able to a join a bridge club (or WI) within a 50-mile radius of here.
One thing I have noticed about shopping for old people is that they all eat the same things; digestive biscuits, tinned mackerel and marmalade. At least it has solved my lifelong question of ‘who actually eats tinned mackerel?’
Last week one lady also specified ‘9 soft toilet rolls – peach colour please.’ This dear clearly has no idea what is going on in the outside world. I have seen stabbings over a 4-pack of Tesco Value Toilet Tissue. Probably my most exciting shop was for Elsa who requested ‘two 1 litre bottles of Jameson Whisky and a large pack of salted peanuts.’ Now that is an oldie who knows how to survive lockdown…
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I usually get excited about Easter. It is like a mini Christmas without the presents. It is a time when all of the Family get together under one roof for a few days, we tacitly agree not to wind each other up, and we enjoy nice food and good company. The problem is everyone is still here.
Don’t get me wrong, I do dearly love my Family, but I do now realise why young men between the ages of 18-21 must go on to Further Education. Their mothers quite simply cannot tolerate them being at home for prolonged periods. It is seriously damaging to their health.
During the university holidays I put up with Son rising from bed at about the time we are having lunch, doing absolutely sod all all day, apart from hogging the TV remote then shooting little men on a screen all night. Unfortunately, I cannot tolerate it for more than a few weeks. I have read that domestic abuse cases have risen steeply since the start of lockdown, and I am trying desperately hard not to become another statistic.
The other problem with having Son, Daughter and Daughter’s Boyfriend living here is the amount of food that they manage to consume within 24 hours. Having stood in the Sainsbury’s queue for 45 minutes, avoided everyone in the store, unpacked all the shopping and breathed a sigh of relief that the ‘Food Battle’ is temporarily over, I am utterly dismayed when they eat the whole damn lot in 24 hours. Do people really need 5 meals and snacks a day?
At the start of lockdown, I loaded the fridge with nice ‘holiday’ foods – smoked salmon, boiled ham, good cheeses, and wine and beer, to make the whole experience more tolerable. Now, having realised the rate of food consumption, I am spending my days stalking Aldi to find the cheapest possible edible foodstuffs.
As well as two BBQs the Family decided it would be great to have a turkey for Easter Sunday, like a ‘Mini Christmas Lunch’. I duly cornered a bird at the local butcher’s and Husband queued for 1 1/2hours to collect it. I hadn’t specified a weight and was horrified when he staggered in with nearly 17lbs of turkey. It was so large we had to re-design the fridge to fit it in.
On Sunday I spent the whole day cooking the damn beast, complete with home-made stuffing, bread sauce and posh gravy etc. Moreover, I could barely lift it in and out of the oven without doing some bicep curls to warm up first. I have now realised why Christmas is in December. I am normally cooking this special meal in a festive jumper and reindeer ears, not dripping in sweat in a kitchen reaching 35 degrees, whilst wearing my pyjamas.
Hot Flushes And Sweating
I noticed that the rest of the family were sunbathing and sipping Prosecco, when I intermittently dashed into a shady part of the garden to cool myself off. By the time I served up I was in my 3rd pair of pyjamas of the day and trying to work out whether it was menopausal hot flushes and sweating, that were wreaking havoc, or the fat roast bird sitting on the table.
Whilst everyone was exclaiming ‘Mum! This is delicious’, I just wanted to lie naked in a cool room with a family-sized Lindt Easter Egg and HELLO! magazine. Thank Christ Easter comes but once a year…
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Well, it is day 17 of Lockdown and I am pleased to confirm that all 5 adults currently living here are still well and have not sustained any injuries caused by me, or any other residing family members. I think we have all decided, independently, that the best way to get through this incarceration is to bite our lips when we get totally hacked off with each other, and to regularly socially isolate ourselves, whilst self-distancing. For me this means spring cleaning the loft or the shed… AGAIN. Husband has an excellent excuse; he still has a Proper Job and so he can retreat, justifiably, to his ‘office’ for 8 hours a day.
24-year-old daughter has changed beyond all recognition in the past 2 weeks. This London-loving party animal, who adores nothing more than a glass of Prosecco and a pair of high heels, has taken to doing jigsaw puzzles and going running. Moreover, I have actually seen her without full make-up for more than 2 days on the trot. Obviously, she is not posting anything on social media at the moment, as doing that without a flawless face and couture is totally out of the question.
Son, 21, is growing facial hair, which he is terribly proud of. By the time he returns to university in September it might actually look like a proper beard. He currently looks like a younger Ed Sheeran. I have never worked out why men grow ginger beards when their hair isn’t even ginger. I am pleased this is normal, as I really don’t want Husband requesting a paternity test in the midst of Lockdown.
Husband in the meantime, who never goes for more than 4 weeks without a ‘Good Haircut’ is starting to look like an ageing rock star and sporting true lockdown hair. I did suggest he could rock a Mullet, but it didn’t go down too well. If he too decides to grow a beard, we will have our very own Father Christmas by June.
Even the poor Schnauzer Zac, who goes to the poodle parlour every 6 weeks is starting to look like Bob Marley, shame he can’t sing. I am, meanwhile, watching numerous YouTube videos on ‘how to touch up grey roots,’ and I have already ordered a tinting brush and mixing bowl in readiness. I don’t mind being released from Lockdown wearing my pyjamas, but I am not emerging with a blonde mop that starts halfway down my head, that would really let my secret out the bag.
So, what else have I been up to? Well, I have been pairing odd socks! I know there are numerous theories on why two socks go into the washing machine and only one comes out, but none of them are terribly convincing. We have a large plastic bag of odd socks and every week a few more solitary souls are added to the collection. Sorting them out has been on my list of ‘Things to do when there is absolutely nothing else to do,’ for at least 2 years.
Fortunately, up until this point in my life, I have never been that desperate for entertainment. Well, yesterday that day came; I tipped the bag out and spend two joyful hours reuniting socks with their lost partners. Every time I got a pair matched a wave of excitement came over me and I let out a resounding ‘Yes.’ God, it hasn’t taken long for my datum to change on what constitutes an exciting afternoon. If I still think this is fun in a year’s time, can someone please shoot me?
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One of my favourite pastimes is, and always has been, online shopping. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I ventured into a clothes shop. Why drive to a shopping centre, pay for parking, and spend hours trundling around the fashion department of John Lewis when it is all there online in the comfort of your own home?
I can scan the entire fashion offering of John Lewis in 30 minutes. Whereas it would take me a good few hours on the shop floor. I also have a phobia of changing rooms. There is just too much faff.
You have 27 items over your arm, and you are told that you can only take 5 in at a time. This means that after every 5 failed frock tries you have to wrap yourself, in your undies, in the changing room curtain whilst shouting ‘Please can I have another 5?’ Besides, the lighting and mirrors in the cubicles have been cruelly designed to make you look at your worst from every angle. You can go in feeling quite body-confident and come out vowing to take up HIIT training and eat spinach.
No, these days are long gone for me. I much prefer to get a lorry load of garments delivered, so I can try them on in the safety of my own bedroom whilst watching ‘MasterChef,’ and with the lighting sufficiently dimmed to soften flesh folds and cellulite.
This hobby/addiction has always amused me, but in these Corona Days it is vital. I need to buy so many pyjamas online these days. The problem is that Husband is now working from home. For the first time, he is aware of just how MANY deliveries are left in the porch every day.
Yesterday he went for a run and actually couldn’t get in through the front door on his return. Sadly, Ian from myHermes, Steve from DPD and Joe from UPS are not chatting these days. They just ring the bell and ‘drop’. We did have such a social thing going.
Last month Husband and I were in Costa Coffee when this gorgeous, lean, stubbly, young man bounded in. He saw me and said ‘Hi Jayne, how are the dogs? See you next week!’ before winking and heading to the counter. To which Husband said, ‘Who the Hell is he?’ He seemed both relieved and terrified when I explained that he was the UPS delivery driver; relieved that he was just the delivery driver and terrified that I had enough deliveries to be his best friend.
My little game really is out in the open now. I do hasten to add that I do return 97% of all the clothes I order. This means I am also very friendly with the lovely Rahul in the Post Office…
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Ok, so it’s Day 4 of Lockdown and things are going quite well. I have got into a good routine; I lie in bed checking Insta and Facebook until 9.30am, and then I get up and watch ‘Corona TV’ and do housework until 4pm, in my pyjamas. At 4pm I have a shower and put on clean pyjamas. I do realise the importance of trying to keep fit over 50. So on a ‘Fitness Day’ I put on leggings, and plod around the village for 30 minutes at some point, before the shower and clean Pjs. I could call these ‘leisurewear’ but no, mine are quite definitely ill-fitting floral jersey Pjs. The great thing about this dress code is that I am not generating any ironing at all.
I have made an Excel spread sheet, which is a total work of art (names highlighted in different colours etc) for a ‘Housework Rota’. As I am distancing with 4 other adults, I am not doing it all! Twenty Something Son, who should be at university, is coping particularly well with the Lockdown. Actually he hasn’t noticed any difference. He gets up at 2pm, eats the contents of the fridge, watches ‘Celebrities Go Dating’ from the sofa all afternoon, eats more and then plays PlayStation all night. He doesn’t even have to feel guilty about all of the lectures he failed to get out of bed for, as they are now online. On the ‘Housework Rota’, I have put him down for ironing. Son has never ironed a garment in his life before, but I see lots of merit in allocating him this task:
He will learn a new life skill
He won’t be chipping every skirting board with the Hoover or spilling bleach on the carpets
He won’t notice what he is doing, as he can still watch ‘Celebrities Go Dating’ at the same time. He will just be vertical rather than horizontal
My plan is to spring clean the entire house in the next 3 weeks, but I am having to pace this. I don’t want to get to the under stairs cupboard too quickly. In truth I can’t wait to find out what treasures I have shoved in there over the past 10 years.
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