Wednesday 29 April 2020

Lockdown priorities

Me to my family as I get ready to take the dog for a walk yesterday:  'It's tipping down.  Anyone seen the umbrella?

Husband: 'By the front door.'

Me: 'No, not that one - it's way too big.  The other one.'

Boy #1: 'By the back door.'

Me: 'No, that's the yellow one.'

Family: ?

Me: 'I don't like the yellow one.  It's square.  And it's got an estate agent's name on it.  And it's yellow, for pete's sake.  I mean the other one.'

Boy #2: 'You mean the medium-sized blue one?'

Me: 'Yes!   My favourite.  Not too big, not too small.  Sturdy, reliable. Where is it?'

Boy #2: 'No idea.'

I sigh, and leave my nonplussed family rolling their eyes as I take the dog for a walk whilst sheltering underneath a bright yellow square umbrella.  I look like a cross between an estate agent and someone who - other than for the odd Zoom call (oh, happy day!) hasn't had to make themselves presentable in 5 weeks.  Which, in fact, I am.

Later that day - after I spend an hour hunting fruitlessly for the missing umbrella - the family WhatsApp lights up.

Dad: 'Anybody claim this superior little number?'  

His message is accompanied by a photo of the missing umbrella.  MY umbrella.  My FAVOURITE umbrella.

I call to claim my prize - at least in theory, since there's no way to collect it right now.

Mum: 'Oh, it's yours, is it?  It's very good.'

Me: 'Wait, you used it?'  (NOOOOOOOOOO!)  'Doesn't Dad have that excellent one Sis bought him a couple of years ago?

Mum:  'Well, yes.  But he doesn't like to share that one.  Says it's too good.'

I bet he does.  

Mum:   'I like this one, though.  Are you sure you want it back?'

Me:  'I do, sorry.  But don't worry; I've got another you can have instead.  Just as good.  And it's really easy to see, which is helpful.  I'll put it to one side so it's ready when we're allowed to come down there.'

The yellow umbrella is now in the boot of the car, waiting for when we can finally visit.  The blue one is my favourite, after all...

Is it possible that Lockdown is getting to me?

Sunday 26 April 2020

Lockdown Moment of Calm

It's all a bit crap, right now.  So I thought I would post this moment of calm, to lift the spirits - birdsong, woodland, with added dog crashing through wild garlic just for fun.  Turn the sound up for maximum effect.


Friday 24 April 2020

Lockdown Creativity

Remember when Lockdown started, a zillion years ago, and everybody was like 'oh, I'm going to be SO productive' - myself included? 

I had visions of boxes first taped up 10 years ago and which stayed that way for 3 moves (2 of them international) finally being unearthed and disposed of.  Then, the garden was going to look lovely.  I thought maybe I might bake some bread.  And of course I was going to get back to The Great Work - the one that's been sitting in a folder since last July, temporarily shelved due to, in no particular order; school holidays, renovations, recalcitrant children, travel, sickness and the interference of every-day life.

Well.  The garden does look rather lovely, but that's because it's spring rather than anything I've done to it. As for the rest?  Not so much.  My creativity and productivity appear to have fallen off the edge of a cliff, lost in a fog of homeschooling, constant low-level worry about what the future holds (on a macro and micro scale), menu-planning, and debating when it's acceptable to have the first quarantini of the day...

But there are others out there who seem less affected than me and who - luckily for the rest of us - have embraced the creative opportunities this situation presents.  I thought I would list a few of them here, in case you're interested. :  The Ancient Mariner, split into sections and read by such luminaries as Jeremy Irons, Jeanette Winterson, Hilary Mantel, Willem Dafoe - the list goes on.  What a way to breathe life and relevance into this extraordinary poem.

Isolation Stories on ITV from 4th May on.  Read this Guardian piece to see how a series can be conceived and filmed in lockdown - completely looking forward to this one.

Then, this wondrous piece from the dancers at L'Opera de Paris will lift your heart

And finally, this.  Because, dancing cockatoos.

You're welcome.

Saturday 18 April 2020

Lockdown Gardening

I am not a natural gardener.  Neither am I an enthusiastic one; the sheer frustration of spending time weeding, clipping, mowing or pruning only to find just a few days later that you have to do it all again is not for me.  I like my hard labour to have long-lasting results, not just a couple of days of smug satisfaction whilst looking out on a well-ordered flower bed.

Generally, my approach to keeping our garden reasonably presentable is hit and run; if I find myself with both time and inclination then I may pull out the messiest looking weeds or cut back the rose that is threatening to obscure the kitchen window, but other than that I treat our outside space with benign disinterest.  Our better-organised neighbours probably hate it.  That said, I've been spending more time outside recently so have been paying more attention to what's going on out there...

This morning, as I look out at the pouring rain and contemplate just how wet the Dog and I are going to get when we venture out, I find myself - foolishly - thinking out loud.

'You know, the moss on the lawn isn't as bad as I thought.'

Husband breaks off from his ceaseless perusal of various news streams.  'How do you mean?'

'Well, you can see it from up here (I'm standing at our bedroom window), but as far as I can tell, the people either side of us - and either side of them - have it far worse.'


'Although D, at the far end - his lawn is practically perfect.'

'Of course it is.  But D's a maniac in the garden.'

There's a pause whilst we both consider the madness of being emotionally invested in one's garden.  Then;

'Does it make you feel like you've won, then?  That we've got less moss?'

I'm horrified.  'No!  Of course not! Gardening shouldn't be a competition.  It's just, you know...'

'That you're happy we've got less moss.'


'Because you've won.'

Goddamit, he's right.

Monday 13 April 2020

Lockdown conversations

It's amazing how attractive a trip to the local Sainsbury's becomes when the alternative is these four walls, isn't it?  Husband and I have taken to divvying up trips to the supermarket as a sort of illicit treat, now that it's our only way to get further from the house than the couple of circular miles we cover on dog walks

It's been great having him at home for such an extended period of time, but Husband's more frequent than usual assumption of Lockdown Hunter Gatherer duties has had some adverse effects.  Household snackage has gone up, mainly due to the fact that crisps and dips are being purchased at higher frequency than usual.  The cost of our shopping has increased (see previous note about snackage). The fridge was deemed to be ineffeciently filled, so has been 'reorganised'.  Not emptied out and cleaned, you understand; just reorganised (mainly to make space for beer). There have been suggestions made that the food in the storeage cupboard be itemised on a spreadsheet. (Be my guest, I said.  It hasn't happened yet, for some reason).  And a certain level of executive oversight on the contents of said fridge has been in evidence.

I give you Exhibit #1, m'lud.

Husband, standing in front the fridge, sighs disapprovingly: 'Look at this.'

Me:  'Look at what?'

Husband:  'These grapes.'

I look.  'They seem fine to me.'

He tuts.  'No.  Look there; the best before date.  It was yesterday.'

Me:  'Well, they are in the fridge, so... I'm not that bothered.'

Husband: 'But that's why they are at the front of the shelf - so we could see the date.  So that they could be taken out of the fridge and used.'

Me:  'Oh.  I see.  You're right, of course.  If only there was someone other than me who could open the fridge, check the date and take them out so they could be eaten.'

Reader, we left it there.