And so, week eleventy seventeen of lockdown draws to a close. Like most people, I’m losing track of time and if it wasn’t for work, I probably wouldn’t know what day it is. At this point, I’ve been nowhere but the local area and the shops for about ten weeks now. One the one hand, there’s a semi-acceptance that this weird life lived in limbo is the new normal for the time being. On the other, each week becomes harder as I face up to a reality where I have no free movement and little control over the choices I make. Remaining positive becomes a challenge that I can’t always manage.
But…it is a long weekend, and rather than dwell on that for now, I thought I’d write about some of the positives. Many of my friends who are furloughed or working from home with less work to do, report that they may be bored or a bit skint, but they are enjoying the slower pace of things, the time to stop and stare. Speaking to friends and family that we may not have been in touch with for a while and reconnecting. And though there are many days when we could quite happily send our kids off to vulnerable family members to look after in true Tory style, we are also enjoying spending a bit more time with them.
Thus far, I have been too busy for that sort of thing, but I have been finding ways to keep myself occupied, distracted and dare I say it, even joyful at times. My walks with my son, where we act like idiots and talk nonsense and laugh a lot are a highlight. Therefore, in a bank holiday spirit (even though I am stuck indoors and it’s raining) and in no particular order, here follows my list of some of the other things that have been putting a smile on my face of late:
- Television and especially Game of Thrones. I’m not a big TV watcher in general, although I go through phases of it. And while like all sensible humans, I have Netflix, I don’t have any other paid TV, so all this time I have never seen one episode of GOT. Discovering how easily I could watch it via the PlayStation, I started it at the beginning of lockdown and was instantly hooked. Yep, the last season wasn’t as good as the rest of them, but it was still some of the most amazing TV I have ever seen. I loved every blood-drenched second of it, my heart going like the clappers during some of the episodes.
Important for us singles, there is also lots of shagging and people to have crushes on, my top three being Tyrion (my lion), Oberyn and Brienne of Stark. Hunners of baddies to hate, my top three being Cersei, Baelish and Ramsay Bolton. And the violence…well. Until now, I would have said that I actively disliked violence on screen and that is still true, but I began to enjoy it, the brutality of the battle scenes, some of the most agonising deaths. I use the subtitles, and noticed that one of the most common sounds was *crunching squelch*. I stopped looking away. In fact, you could be standing in front of me now and if someone put a spear right through your skull, I’d barely wince.
I finished it last week and there is now a gaping hole in my lockdown life, I can’t deny it. At least I can console myself with the millions of shows that I’ve never seen or started and been too busy to finish. But I repeat the advice I was given at the start of lockdown: if you never have, this is the time to watch GOT.
- Baby birds. A mammy has been nesting her wee babies inside the boiler condensing pipe that comes out next to my kitchen window, which isn’t sealed. Their tweets and sqwawks have been the accompaniment to my working days. Quite a lot of fighting as well, as the fat pigeons try to steal the worms. In the last couple of days, the sounds have stopped so I guess the babies are away, ready to fly on their own. I will miss the bird wars, the sound of life going on around us while we are stuck in.
- Sandwiches. I admit that I am one of those people who generally buys lunches when working and wastes a lot of money that way. Since lockdown, I’ve become obsessed with putting as many tasty things in sandwiches, wraps and bagels as I can. I’ve discovered sriracha mayonnaise which has brought joy to my lunchtimes e.g. in a bagel with toasted halloumi, strips of piquant sweet peppers, green leaves and houmous. Some days making a simple cheese omelette for lunch is a lovely thing. I never want to go back to supermarket meal deal lunches again.
- Starting the working day in pyjamas. Oh, the luxury of getting up as late as you can, when all you need to do before starting work is make a cup of coffee! Yes, I am a lazy bastard, my sleep is mostly a bit rubbish with crazy lockdown dreams, and I want to stay in bed as long as possible. No, I do not do work Zoom calls in my pyjamas and even go as far as brushing my hair for those occasions. My routine is to get up, do my first tasks of the day about 8.30 and then get a shower mid-morning. So much more civilised than rushing about and I like it that way.
- Social media. Despite everything that is evil and bad about social media, I’ve been relying on it to keep connected and I am not alone. Twitter is there for news and for when you’re in a bad mood and want to read all the snark, although only in small doses, lest you become too bitter. My Facebook is generally a more friendly place, the odd political disagreement aside. Like some of my friends, I’ve been enjoying being in a music community page where I’ve listened to great tunes, engaged in daft banter and ended up being part of a wee online community. It’s been one of the things keeping me going when I’ve been stuck in front of my laptop all day. Zuckerberg may be mining my data for nefarious purposes but I’m glad we have it at this time. It’s particularly important for those of us living without other adults, just to be able to make that instant connection with others.
- Which brings me onto to my last one, internet dating. Even though people can’t go out on actual dates, the world of swipe dating is still going strong. In fact, Tinder recorded its highest ever number of users on March 31st when pretty much every country on the plant was in lockdown. Women’s magazines contain articles such as ‘what to wear on a first Zoom date’, the answer apparently being a classic, loose white shirt, unbuttoned as saucily as you desire.
I have no doubt that this has led to an increase in the sex pests you find on these sites, but there are genuine folk too. It’s not all sausage pics out there. Getting to know someone without being able to meet them in person is a very strange thing indeed, but then isn’t everything strange these days? It seems unlikely that we will ever return to the Austen-esque days of long courtships, with nothing more physical than a stroll through a rose garden, but that is the situation any potential dater is faced with right now. Current pleas to Nicola Sturgeon to allow a civilised Dutch style arrangement are so far going unheard. Or at least mine are. I’m thinking of moving there if we can’t get to phase four fast enough.
That’s about it. There are other things: stupid jokes, making bread, reading comforting old books, talking to friends, but that will do for now. I’m now finished doing the work I was so busy with and looking forward to a bit more balance. There may still be time to learn a range of new accomplishments, but I’d rather get the fuck out of my flat and get back into the world again.
Until next time,