As a child I actually loathed cheese, of any description. When I was growing up, all those years ago, you came home, had your meat and two veg and a slice of apple pie, if you were lucky, and that was it. Food intolerances and allergies hadn’t been invented then.
One day at school I was given a particularly large slice of hideous soggy cheese pie, which I refused to eat. By the time lunch was technically over, I was a solitary child at the dining table, with the demonic headmistress glaring at me and repeatedly saying ‘Jayne, you will finish that, we don’t waste food here.’
Lockdown life has given me more than enough time to tackle the big issue in my life, namely why is my face getting so wrinkly? Ok, I am nearly 55, so I have to accept the odd crease, but having spent hours, and I mean hours, studying the complexions of every woman in her fifties who posts on Instagram, I have come to the conclusion my crevices are pretty deep.
It was not until last year that I actually realised that I had any wrinkles at all. My eyesight got so bad that I could not apply mascara without wearing my glasses. Having poked my eye out too many times with the mascara wand I decided to invest in a large magnifying mirror. Big mistake, in one quick glance I had aged 30 years. In fact, the sight was so depressing that I keep the mirror draped with a face cloth when I am not using it.
If Coronavirus had struck 30 years ago it would have found a very different world from the one today. I was in my mid 20s then, mobile phones were the size of bricks and computers were the size of packing cases. I remember getting my first mobile phone, a huge Motorola with a short rubber aerial, and I thought it was the coolest things since eyelash curlers. Admittedly it weighed about 2 kg, and needed its own backpack, but it was a MOBILE phone! I had a sales job, and I remember strutting around with my Filofax in one hand and giant Motorola in the other, wearing jackets with shoulder pads on steroids.
Over the past few years Britain has become obsessed with baking. However, this has come at a time when I thought my baking days were over. When the kids were young, I spent hours if not days, making novelty birthday cakes. In my cake career I made horses, dogs, footballs, dinosaurs, Telly Tubbies, lawnmowers (that year was a challenge) to name but a few. Whilst the end results were ok it took me a further two days to scrape the fondant icing off every kitchen surface and get the food colouring off my nails. In my kids’ school nipping into Tesco‘s and buying a cartoon cake was not an option.
You cannot open a magazine these days without people exalting the value of exercise for women over 50. Before COVID Days I went to the gym twice a week and did Pilates but, since lockdown, my regime has gone to pot, as have any previously toned areas of my torso.
I have several female friends who rise early and bounce up and down with Joe Wicks online before breakfast. They swear that he really sets them up for the day and puts a smile on their faces. I do look at Joe Wicks first thing in the morning, he has a super Instagram page, but the thought of squinting at him on my laptop, whilst trying to keep up with his manic manoeuvres, just leaves me cold. The closest I have got to him was when I flicked through one of his cookery books in Sainsbury’s the other day. Likewise, my wonderful Pilates teacher is Zooming her classes, but there is no way I could adopt the required positions whilst looking at a 3cm digital version of her, without my glasses falling off.
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?
Follow me on Instagram @hownottoahaveamidlifecrisis