There has been an odd entwining of my writing side and my slightly out of step side… the extra time in the day without the commute, the extra worry… I am turning into ‘disgusted from Tunbridge Wells’
Maybe not disgusted, maybe concerned.
Or just bored
I’ve been tweeting my concerns at everyone, regardless of who’s listening. @theguardian, did you realise that by saying NHS staff th,,,
@GrantaBooks you’re advertising 99p books that are coming through Amazon as £7
@GreenwichCouncil The bins, the bins Esmerelda!
@IPCC how come there are photos of the police shoulder to shoulder?
I don’t think that in these instances I am any more annoyed than I might normally be. It’s just that my previous, “I should mention that,” would have got lost in the daily commute, in the daily franticness., (I have a different standard for missing deliveries that does involve fury, and fury is not the purpose of the blog, so I shan’t tell you here.)
There’s a standing joke in my family that involves an in law, two freezers that are large enough for my very tall husband to stand in, and the bungees used to hold them closed. The joke mostly involves eye rolling with the phrase, “working down the freezer” with a hint of “like that’s really gonna happen…”
Well, I’d say supermarket evasion techniques bring on the best time to set the example for said in-laws and I’ve started to empty my own freezer. But the reality has proved distressing. Many labels had fallen off my frozen meals, worse – some revealed old labels with more tasty delights indicated, such as chicken curry (I make a mega chicken curry) that actually turned out to be red bean paste from a vegetarian phase. Seeing as I have two very distinct memories of indigestion from kidney beans, I binned this dish straight away. Wouldn’t want to end up in A&E with indigestion right now.
Some beans are welcome. For me, slow cooked baked beans (with whiskey, bacon, rosemary, whatever’s lying about really) are a weekly staple, eaten with eggs they are bizarrely-head-scratchingly affordable. At least they were until this crisis and every supermarket in the world seems to have run short of borlotti beans. To these nouveau-borlotti- purchasers, i ask, are you actually eating them, or turning them into necklaces with your kids? Undeterred, I ventured into online bean sellers and ordered a wonderful brown packet of wholesome looking beans. I was thrilled, looking out for the postman every day, who’d give me shifty ‘don’t come near me’ looks over her face mask. Then I did the math (bean counter, see?) and discovered my wholesome cheap eat was four times the price of its normal level.
I’m not a big shopper but COVID-19 caught me in the middle of a wardrobe refresh bought on by too many cakes (I am a food blogger on the side) and early spring days. You know the sort of thing, along the lines of, ‘this is a good top that still fits but the trousers are too small’ and ‘hmm.. what it’s the ultimate colour for a neutral work skirt in a capsule wardrobe.’?
Then there is the quandary of weighing up ‘keeping people in jobs’ versus, ‘are their employers really enabling social distancing;’ and ‘what about if they’re just plain scared to come into work?’ My asthmatic retail based husband has been furloughed, and we’re kind of well, is this good or bad? Will there even be a job even to go back to?
As with the rest of the world, it quickly struck me that outfits are utterly useless if I can only wear them shopping. Not that I plan living in my pyjamas, I assure you. And then it double struck me, that while it might be nice to save some money by reigning in the spending on clothes, how much will that little hit of joy on the arrival of a purely trivial parcel help with my mental health as we venture less and less outdoors?
Well, I’ve found the reason to keep that hit of joy coming… it’s because of my recent sock monster discovery. I’ll admit, there has been much debate about the existence of a sock monster, but my conversion over the social distancing period to trouser only outfits has proved beyond doubt that there is sock monster. There is no other way that I can have run out of matching socks in just two days.
I have not actually achieved photographic evidence of the sock monster as yet, nothing as revealing as those lochness monster photos at any rate. However it’s available hiding places are diminishing with the conversion of the house into an isolation survival unit – in other words, almost all boxes have been opened and checked for their present usefulness (300 sachets of clipper hot chocolate anyone? Long story). Currently there might still be a couple of untouched saucepans in the back of one of the cupboards and I can only assume that the sock monster is slinking between them. I’d call pest control, but y’know, #socialdistancing.
There’s one sort of house layout needed for everyday life; there’s another sort of layout needed for world domination (google ‘piranhas’… see!) and there’s a special sort of layout for lockdown. I know I’m not the only one, as I sit here professionally at a full excel screen, with a dining table full of condiments, seedlings and last night’s beer bottles behind me.
Very important.. the decontamination corner, including gloves on daily rotation and delivery items for a couple of days. Made a little larger by my husband’s decision to spend his free time fixing things on the car that I had no idea were broken and hence containing engine parts (he insists they are not engine parts, but what else is a car made of, other than the doors?)
Stretches space. Until recently, some were limited to one, that’s just one outside visit for exercise. In fact, even though I enjoy my exercise and have been stressing about how long we will keep this right, it is hard to pretend that “You are only allowed to exercise once a day,” will upset too many people (reverse psychology perhaps?). In reality I think adding afternoon stretches will probably pay off. As most Londoners will know a space enough for a single Pilates map is an unlikely investment. We shoved the dining table to one side, know that we’d be having no dinner guests for some while.
Webcam central. The sofa now sits in front of the desk to allow socialising on the sofa as opposed other work chair. Yes. I know. This desk-sofa invention is unprecedented outside the fantasy world of fancy furniture ads.
The evidence that we are failing to abide by the ‘can we please try and all use one mug each a day’ request corner.
I’m still cycling to work. And then coming straight back home afterwards, which I appreciate some might find bizarre. Surely the only positive to come out of this is the freedom from the commute, I hear you say. Well.. you try having the imagination to find an alternative route of comparable emptiness.
And most significantly, this stubborn habit ensures, umm, general hygiene.
Bear with me…. Normally I cycle to work and shower when I get in. In fact, there is a bit of an over-watered scenario going on here, because then I also shower or bath when I get back home and this latter part features quite a bit of lounging, as I find that the muscles (worked harder on the final 17th mile for being uphill) are waaaay happier if they get warmed up in the bath the same time. There might be Ally McBeal playing on the ipad, but I’m kind of embarrassed by that -so don’t tell anyone (I fast forward the daft songs).
But now that I don’t have to leave the house to shower… how do I remember to shower? There is ‘when i get dressed’ which I’m sure most people would consider normal, but without my bike ride, I think of getting dressed about half way after I have decided it is a really good idea to clean the kitchen and audit the contents of every cupboard, before realising I only have about five minutes left to log into work.
And onto that topic of work. I have a lunch hour. A whole hour. Does it really take an hour to have lunch? No it does not. That’s why a sensible worker will take a stroll around the block – at a minimum. Not really an option anymore. So, here’s a thought, how about a speedy snack… followed by a 2pm 40min snooze? I have often been heard in the office complaining that hammocks have not been provided as I believe they are in Google (well, sleep pods). Of course I will not be indulging this idea, largely because I believe my colleagues are reading this. But maybe YOU should…