In the movies, the descent into the lock down of cities is portrayed as chaotic. There is anarchy. But we know now that the movies are wrong. In the UK we have gone from freedom to lock down in the space of a few short weeks. There has been no rioting in the streets. No looting. Just a general acceptance that this is what needs to be done to choke back the rate of deaths caused by this unseen killer.
Things that we used to take for granted (standing close to another human person being an example) seem like a lifetime ago. At the start of the year, with vague whispering of a strange pneumonia in an unfamiliar city in China, not one person could have imagined that just a few short months later all schools would be closed. There would be no students at university. Workers would suddenly be working from home or not working at all. And most shockingly of all in a place like the United Kingdom, beer would no longer be flowing in pubs, often seen as the last bastion of liberty in the world.
I was working from home for a couple of weeks but I am presently on furlough since all the work has dried up and will likely take a while to return. It turns out that a world without work is not the Utopian dream I thought it would be. I am hoping this is only a temporary situation whilst the economy goes into hibernation to protect lives but obviously there is an element of concern that normality may not return any time soon.
Working from home. Perhaps this will be the biggest effect of the lock down as more and more people realise the commuting to an office everyday is essentially pointless. That being said it was not without it challenges with two kids.
I am one of the lucky ones for sure. I have two young kids that help to keep my mind off the world and ensure that my days are not boring. In fact, at times like this, although it can be hard to see beyond the grim reality, it is wise to look for the positives and being able to spend more time with my kids is certainly one of those.
0630 - The kids wake up. The kids jump on my back. I wake up or at least roll out of bed and put on some trousers.
0635 - Where are my glasses? Why am I in the kid’s bed? Are we one hundred percent sure that it is morning. I mean I know it is light outside but could that just be sunrise?
0636 - It is morning. There is no going back to sleep. It is time to start another day under lock down in the UK. Who knows what excitement the day will hold.
0645 - Coffee. Nothing happens before coffee. Wake me up and kick start my digestive system. The kids are having their breakfast whilst watching mind numbing YouTube videos of kids opening toys. I can’t help thinking that there are some pushy parents out there making a fortune off their kids.
Note to self - learn how to upload videos to YouTube.
0700 - Time to catch up on the news and to check what state the world is in as we wake up. Ah yes, there is no news anymore just the never ending exponential rise of Coronavirus.
0715 - Time to get the kids ready. Before Covid-19 we would be in a mad rush of limbs and clothes getting ready for nursery. Now we take our time and don’t have to worry that the clothes are not ironed or the socks are odd.
0800 - Garden session number one. I have never felt so lucky to have a garden. It is not even a big garden but it is big enough. When we moved into this house the garden consisted of 100% concrete so my partner made me lift approximately one million slabs (exaggeration) and shovel nine tonnes of soil (not an exaggeration) in an attempt to grow grass. I have never been so happy that she cracked that whip as now the kids have somewhere to play everyday and get fresh air.
Whilst they play in the garden I look up at the sky and wonder where all the planes are. What will the world look like when we stagger out the other end of this?
0900 - Time for some exercise, even more important than ever since I have taken to eating between four and six meals a day and self medicating with alcohol in the evenings. I jump on the turbo trainer and make the legs work. Usually this would be boring, a means to an end, but for now it is pure escape and a chance to clear the mind.
Cooling-off after another tough session on the turbo trainer. There is no hiding place on the indoor trainer and no free wheeling to catch your breath.
1000 - Back in the garden but this time with a snack and a coffee. Sometimes I play with the kids, sometimes I watch them play. I told Luka that Coronavirus was a bug so he spends a fair amount of time looking for it in the garden to kill it.
Book, coffee and kids playing nicely (for now).
1130 - Time for Noah to get some sleep. It is a miracle if I also do not fall asleep beside him in the process. I may even fall asleep before him most days. Doing nothing all the livelong days can be tiring.
1200 - Back when working in an office was an actual thing that people did, my lunch typically consisted of a sandwich so lacking in character that the journey from foil to stomach left no impression. Now I have time to craft wonderful, fulfilling lunches. Sometimes however I regress to a student and eat three-minute noodles. These really are the end times.
1230 - A moment of quiet sweeps over the house. Luka is fed and relaxing. The missus retreats to the couch and I now have a few precious minutes to catch on things (such as writing this). I try to refrain from refreshing the news but I do it anyway knowing that all it will tell me is that we have a long road ahead of us.
1330 - Time to wake up Noah who, without intervention, would sleep all afternoon.
1400 - Back in the garden. I have made a bird feeder out of a plastic bottle and some twigs. I am not sure that birds like or want Coco Pops though.
I have also taken to playing the guitar in the garden. The kids ignore it and the neighbours shut their windows.
It is amazing just how quickly life can change. One minute I was doing a job that I enjoyed and was learning a great deal. Now I am making a bird feeder.
1600 - Time to start dinner and let the kids watch an exercise or yoga video on YouTube. Despite the lock down and the panic buying that went before it, we have not had to adapt our meals too much and are still eating well. Well aside from a disastrous attempt to make home-made Gnocchi.
YouTube exercise time.
Tangent Alert - I just want to give a quick shout out to Jamie Oliver. For the first nineteen years of my life I could not cook. I once even started a fire in the kitchen when attempting to grill chicken burgers. On Christmas Eve. I broke the cooker. During my degree I realised that it is sort of worthless being able to resolve free-body diagrams or solve Bernoulli’s equation if you couldn’t do something fundamental like cooking a basic meal. So I resolved to fix this and it was Jamie Oliver that gave me the confidence to tackle simple meals.
When I get asked in job interviews what my finest achievement is I say something semi-professional but the truth is it might just be this.
1800 - Dinner done it is now time to hope that the kids indulge in a game where they are entertained enough so that I can lie on the couch for ten minutes having invariably eaten too much.
1810 - Off the couch and time to dance. The songs making the playlist at the moment? Stupid Love (Lady Gaga), Enter Sandman (Metallica), Tribute (Tenacious D), She Wolf (Shakira), Jolene (Dolly Parton), Black Sheep (Metric), All I Want To Do Is Rock (Travis), Somebody to Love (Queen). The kids love dancing and as an added benefit it tires them out before bedtime.
1850 - The plan for getting the kids to bed is executed. PJ’s, vitamins, teeth, story, waiting, waiting, waiting, fidgeting, turning, sleep.
2000 - The kids are asleep and it is usually touch and go at this point if I will wake up or continue to sleep with the kids after a hard day of eating cakes and making bird feeders.
With the kids asleep and the distractions of the day but to bed, the mind turns towards the existential threat of the global pandemic. When I am playing with the kids it is easy to forget about the perilous state of the world but when they are in bed there is basically nothing else to think about.
My outlook at the moment is very short term and just trying to get through each day healthy and with my sanity more or less anchored to reality.
Maybe we could watch something on Netflix to take our mind off the situation but this usually revolves around searching for a movie for an hour without ever reaching a consensus on what to watch. Sort your movies out Netflix and stop making documentaries about all societies weirdos, misfits and murderers.
2100 - Virtual pub time. It basically took a global health crisis to get a bunch of men to talk on the phone to each other. We have been using Zoom to keep contact between us all and it has been a welcome distraction even if we do just talk about Coronavirus. I mean what else is there really to talk about.
I also use these chats as a way to moderate my alcohol consumption. It is very easy to fall into the cycle of cracking open a bottle of beer, or wine, every night in the current situation but I am trying to resist that. No point in surviving Covid-19 only to be chopped down in my prime by liver sclerosis.
2200 - Bed time. Please let me sleep and not lie in bed thinking about the uncertain future.
Rinse, repeat. Until May. Or longer. Who knows.