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.
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
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…
Follow me on Instagram at @hownotohaveamidlifecrisis