Let me start by unleashing a torrent of self-soothing expletives: jesus suffering christ on a cunty fucking bike. Better now? No, not fucking really. Maybe a wee bit, but no amount of swearing can disguise the fact that the planet is fucked and we are all suffering for it. In the west of Scotland, we have the double whammy of consistently beautiful weather after a long, long winter. It physically hurts to stay inside.
Yes, finally in Western Europe we get hit with the kind of crazy ole pandemic that normally happens in other countries, far enough away that we don’t have to worry about it, unless we have relatives ‘over there’ or can afford to put a bit of cash in a relief fund. This time, it’s personal, or in fact, not. The Covid19 is everywhere and it doesn’t care if you’re rich, poor, black, white, or over or under-developed as a nation. Except that the poorer places with less infrastructure will be hit even worse than we are.
This is not a political rant, despite my seething anger at the incompetence of our Westminster government, who stood by and did nothing while our neighbours fell, one by one. Their cowardice and stupidity have cost us so many lives, the worst failing is that the impact is the greatest among the most vulnerable and those doing the most helping. Thinking about it does nothing but raise my blood pressure, so for now I won’t. Any of us can exhaust ourselves daily, by trawling the media for stories of dangerous ineptitude and selfishness among the general population. We can also find lots of evidence of people being kind and helping each other in communities when their government has failed them.
So, no political ranting. Just an honest look at life in lockdown. Maybe the odd bit of pontification, because why the fuck not? I started social distancing about two weeks before the actual lockdown in the UK, because my dad was in hospital for an op and I had a stinking cold. My siblings were doing all the running about and I was trying to stay safe and well for when he got out. For nearly two months, I have worked at home, only gone out for school drop (in the early days), shops and walk or cycles. Before the lock down, I had maybe two distanced drinks with friends for an hour, no hugs or contact during.
I have not touched another human being apart from my son for almost two months. And he is at that age where I can just about wrestle a brief hug from him before he slips out of my arms. It’s slim pickings my friends. Before this, I could get hugs and kisses from friends, or embraces in tango to salve my single life. Now I only have whatever I can squeeze out of my smelly ten year old before he escapes to his online world. And we all need something more than those brief hugs sometimes. We all need a cuddle from time to time and that is not the same thing. Something that single people miss just as much as sex, whether there is a pandemic or not.
This is not a moan. There are people I know who live alone all the time and separated parents who can’t see their children at all. I am fortunate that I get to see my son, but also get time alone when he is with his dad, where I don’t have to worry about the whole home-school, entertaining an only child thing. A child who is not typically lonely, but who is now feeling the challenge of having no siblings.
Because, holy fuck, the pressure! When I started the lockdown, I convinced myself that now is the time! I will get fit by doing Joe Wicks every day, dance classes and yoga around the clock for de-stress and relaxation! Now is the time where I will write that fucking book, because what the hell else would I be doing?! I will read hundreds of books and power through my Gaelic Duolingo in a matter of weeks! I would also make kimchi and bread and other middle-class pursuits while creating diverting, creative educational opportunities for my son during home school!
Joe Wicks lasted a week. Yes, I did feel better for starting the day with a workout but in reality, my working day now starts before nine and I can’t be fucking bothered. Yoga is on the to-do list, along with daily mini boot camps in the back green, now that the weather is great. My brain has been like mush and I’ve used my streak freeze to skip many of my daily lessons on Duolingo. Worst of all, despite being an avid reader since the time I learned, I’ve found it incredibly difficult to concentrate on books. Which is one of the things that has constantly soothed me for my whole life. Losing reading is like losing a core part of my make-up. I did make bread, but my kimchi was a non-starter.
Writing has been the same. I’ve had to force myself to sit down and write today. Despite my grand ambitions, I have failed to capitalise on my time spent at home alone. I’ve not felt creative, instead I’ve had weird dreams, wakefulness, anxiety and downright freak outs. Partly for the same reasons as everyone else. I have days where I am okay, enjoying the slower pace of life etc, happy even. Other days where I am as irritable as fuck, tired from shit sleeping, enraged by bad governance, just downright pissed off that I can’t go out; see my friends, go to a pub, swim in a loch, sunbathe outside of my flat, kiss someone. Be touched…
The other reason is that I’ve accidentally ended up working on a frontline emergency part of the Covid19 response for my city. I like to keep my work life separate from social media, so all I will say is that it’s been stressful and exhausting but also exhilarating. I’m not doing my normal job and I’m working more hours than I normally do, with different people, all of whom are working even more than I am. There’s no physical risk to me though: it’s all at home, so I’m no hero. And there is great satisfaction in doing something useful that I suppose will stop me swirling down the lockdown plughole. It gives me a routine every day and I’ve not been furloughed. All of us who can work at home in this way are lucky and should be doing whatever they can to help as a matter of course.
Due to this work situation (which has escalated over the last couple of weeks) I have had to let go of attempting the perfect home-school mum shtick. Completely. I am relying on him doing online activities for part of the day, feeding him when he is hungry, followed by a walk together, some TV and then PS4. And of course, the previously mentioned hug wangling.
I do need to ‘fess up – before this pandemic began, I was pleased that my son only had gaming facilities at his dad’s three days a week, where he now has a PC as well as PlayStation. On day one of lockdown, the more easily portable PS4 moved in here. And I never thought I would be so grateful to have it, because when I hear him playing on it with his friends and laughing, that is his way of connecting.
We all need to push our pleasure buttons, and it does us adults good to remember that. I am busy working and there is no point beating myself up for not being the perfect housewife when I have never been that. And let’s face it, the more time he gets online, the happier he is. But I know that loneliness can exist in houses with more than one person and I’m now making the effort to read and do other things together. It shouldn’t be an effort, but when you are working flat out all day, you just want to de-stress in your own way and parenting is hard.
There is so much more to say another time, but I think I’ve exhausted my intellectual capacity for now. I haven’t even talked about the good things that have been coming out of this crisis, or even the things that have been distracting me. On the plus side, this gives me a focus for another post…
Until next time,