2 May 2020

What I've been thinking about the lockdown

I was quite shocked to realise that we have been in lockdown for five weeks, now entering the sixth week. Seems like an eternity, and yet at the same time, not that long. I've been meaning to write down some lockdown thoughts of mine, but finding the headspace to do this with all the other stuff going on has been difficult. 


rainbow blocks



What it has been like in London

We live in the suburbia of London and I used to commute to work to my Central London office a few times a week, depending on the meetings. During February it was all pretty normal. The whole corona-business seemed like it would be blown out soon. 

Then March happened, and reports from Italy started to become increasingly worrisome. Shops started to run out of some key items. By the second week of March the reduction in normal rush hour Tube traffic was noticeable. There was such a strange, sullen mood in the capital, everyone cautiously continuing. "Stay safe" became the common greeting. There was a gradual easing into lockdown, from first encouraging home working, then closing down pubs and bars, and then the full lockdown on 23rd March. We are now able to go out for work, essential shopping, health and safety needs, exercise and to help others, and to me that feels like a balanced approach. 

London has always been a leading city in UK. And now it has led on corona-cases and corona-deaths too. To be honest, I am not surprised by that. Socially distancing, I mean truly and totally socially distancing, just is not possible in London. Too many people everywhere and difficult to source food deliveries mean at some point, you will have to go out, and you will brush past people. 

It has been annoying to see headlines in newspapers lamenting the failures of Londoners to social distance in the parks, when you full well know that it is not possible unless you want to confine people to their flats a la Spain. Funny that those who shout the loudest for the strictest lockdown seem to have comfortable houses and nice gardens to boot. 

Few thoughts I've had about people in this lockdown

During this lockdown few things have become quite evident. We are not in this together. Those living in small flats, no gardens, poor quality housing, low security jobs, unsafe families and relationships... They are in this a hell of a lot more than others in more fortunate positions.  We may be in the same storm but in very different boats - some in yachts, others in rickety rafts. 

I'm also not at all surprised by why so many normal people in Nazi Germany collaborated with the Gestapo. I've seen some real vitriol and hatred on social media when people talk about having seen someone else doing something "forbidden"... Like sitting on the grass. Playing football with friends. Walking too close to each other on the road. My my. Fear of an unknown enemy materialises into something tangible when you see people you can project blame on. While I do my inner eye-roll and silently call these rule-flouters morons in my head, they talk about calling the police on these rule-breakers or photographing them and posting it on social media for everyone to judge. It is not like police aren't busy enough with all the increased domestic violence cases to break up a footie match between a few guys, who may very well be flatmates anyway...

Fear also brings out the helper and maker in many people. It is heart-warming to see so many local volunteers, stocking up food for vulnerable neighbours, crafty people making all kinds of gowns for hospital and care home staff members, and fundraisers from small to big. There are so many good people who try to make a difference, and you can count on that in every emergency they will emerge. 

Now we are apparently past the peak. Or anyway, the first peak of possible new ones to come. What I'm sensing from reading stuff online is that people are still very scared. Very scared to leave their homes, very scared to send their kids to school, and many, possibly avoiding this as long as possible. I've even heard of some people who haven't left their house for weeks. I mean, weeks? Reportedly, people are also avoiding burdening doctors and hospitals, trying to manage their symptoms home, and at times inadvertently making it a whole lot of worse by not attending to serious illnesses early enough.


little girl working on a computer



What our lives have been like

We have been home a lot, but I try to take the girls to the park occasionally to run around, and as supermarket food deliveries are like gold dust, we go out to the shops once or twice a week - mostly to stock up on milk and bread. And it is nice, going out, and popping by the supermarket feels like a sliver of normal life. It just isn't sustainable to live your life in fear forever, anxious of needing to buy food. Of course, socially distance and wash your hands, but it is no life to isolate forever, and we are in this for a long-haul.    

Back home we have been doing home-schooling and un-schooling, choosing topics of interest for learning. So far we have done Egyptian history, bacteria and diseases, creating a country and all its trimmings in creative writing, dance lessons with Oti Mabuse, a Strictly Come Dancing judge, and lots and lots of drawings and junk modelling. And it has been fun at times, and frustrating at many times, especially when I've insisted times tables and maths homework needs to be done, everyday. 

It is difficult though, trying to combine working and home-schooling, and toddler-rearing, with the never-ending cooking and cleaning and other responsibilities. Oh yes, and our fence fell, garage wall had structural damage, and dishwasher broke. And no-one can fix them for the foreseeable future. It's not all sunshines and #blessed-lifestyles - but it hasn't been bad either. The girls have become great little buddies, entertaining each other so well. We have just got on with things, and little by little trying to make it a better new normal for all of us. 

How have you been faring with the lockdown?


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