Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Lockdown Thoughts

After Sundays mini meltdown, and a frustrating phone appointment with the sports injury clinic on Monday* I've restored some equilibrium and am hoping to find a more productive routine to get me through the next few weeks.

It's been a source of personal irritation that I've not read more (I could have cracked on with Zola in earnest, got through the remaining Palliser novels, tackled some Dumas - but no). It seems like such a wasted opportunity to have had all this blank time and not to have done some of that reading. Todays resolution is to forget about the nagging guilt, forget about stacking up the books I think I should be reading, and just find things I'll enjoy.  Which will possibly be more Pushkin Vertigo's as I'm having fun with those.

Part of what's making this time hard for me is not having a job. I'm watching my savings diminish whilst there's a very limited chance of finding work, and whilst the money is holding out pretty well, the prospects for the job market improving any time soon are not encouraging. Trying not to worry about it to much is taking a lot of energy.

So the obvious thing to talk about next is spending money. Lockdown has made it easy not to spend much. All those cancelled hospital appointments alone have saved me a generous amount on bus tickets. There have been no coffees out, or impulse buys in charity shops, never mind in Waterstones, and even food shopping in the little local supermarkets has been limited in scope.

With all that in mind some thoughtful online shopping has felt appropriate. As far as possible I've tried to avoid amazon (though they have been useful for sending birthday presents) but I did order a couple of books directly from Greyladies books. Independent publishers and bookshops are having a hell of a time and right now it seems important to support them even if it's in a very limited kind of way.

One of the things I did when lockdown looked imminent was stock up on coffee from my preferred local roasters. This normally feels like an indulgence, and it is, but I rarely have more than one cup of coffee a day and it's been such a pleasure that it felt totally reasonable to order a selection of loose leaf tea (from here). These are the luxuries that get me through the day.

I've also made a point of buying a few knitting patterns. For a lot of designers the teaching work that is the main part of their income has disappeared and there doesn't seem to be a huge amount of support for the self employed. The patterns I've bought have cost about what those bus fares to the hospital would have done. It feels like money better spent. So far I've resisted the lure of more yarn because I already have a chest of drawers full and try as I might I can think of no justification to get more.

How's everybody else coping, and what are the little things that get you through the day?

*I have an ongoing problem with a ripped tendon in my foot, had just got to the point where I had every possible base covered regarding appointments for it, and then got them all cancelled or postponed. Currently it's not a huge problem so I'm not particularly put out by this, but a conversation with a doctor who seemed unwilling to accept that lockdown would affect the amount of exercise I could get was frustrating. She kept asking if time was the reason I wasn't walking further - in that we weren't meant to be exercising for more than an hour once a day until this weekend, then yes it was. Her last word was that the rules had been changed (that day) mine was to ask if she'd been out because it was bloody freezing, and the 40 minute circuit of a much busier city centre had been more than enough for both nerves and comfort.


  1. I have found that the semi-lockdown that we have had in Australia has not really changed things for me that much. I call it a semi-lockdown because it has not been as strict in as in other countries such as our neighbours in New Zealand. Not only have supermarkets been open, but so have greengrocers, butchers, bakers etc. Even a number of department stores have stayed open. Restaurants and cafes are allowed to open for takeaway.

    Pre-lockdown, I only drank coffee once a week, and I found it simpler to just stop drinking coffee for now. But I have always had a dislike of drinking from disposable cups. I find part of the fun is to sit down and relax, and I just do not like drinking coffee on the move.

    We are also allowed outside to exercise, but not in groups of more than 2. I have been cycling in my neighbourhood, and I have seen more than the usual number of joggers and cyclists.

    Today, some restrictions were lifted, and I sat down to have an ice cream at my local shopping mall, for the first time in a few weeks. There is now a maximum of 10 people seated at each cafe and restaurant.

    The local library remains shut however. It has been an opportunity to either re-read or to read unread books at home. Actually the only unread book I had was "Vile Bodies" by Evelyn Waugh. I found it a bit bizaare, and do not like it as much as say "Scoop" or "Brideshead Revisited".

    1. As Ed said, most people in Australia have weathered this reasonably well. There are people out of work, but a jobkeeper program set up by the govt is meant to help people stay attached to their employers during this time, so that when things restart, they can go back to work for the same company/shop etc. In the meantime the jobkeeper payment is meant to help them pay their rent, buy food etc until they can work again (it keeps them attached to the boss because the govt payment comes via their regular work payment system).
      I've been writing some covid chronicles during this time too, if you;d like more about the Aust perspective -

    2. I'm missing people now, but the worst thing here from my point of view is how slow the official reactions have been, and how confusing the message about what we can and can't, or should and shouldn't, do. I'm mostly grateful that some restrictions have been lifted, but it seems so muddled that it's hard to have faith that there's much interest in keeping the public safe.

    3. Brona, thank you for the link. I am interested in what other peoples experience has been. It's all too easy to get caught up in my own increasingly small world. I'm torn between being grateful that I have the redundancy payment to sit this out for a while, and worry about if the money will last until I can find a job. It's all ups and downs, but so far it could be worse and I'm very grateful that it isn't.

  2. Hello Hayley!

    I hope that you're doing OK.

    I think it's a great plan to ignore nagging guilt. Like you, I am finding solace in vintage crime - also children's books. I really wish that I was reading all those demanding tomes I've accumulated over the years in anticipation of uninterrupted time, but like you I can't. I can't concentrate on anything intellectually challenging and I can't face anything emotionally challenging. I worry about Sylvia Townsend Warner reading week approaching but for now am doing nothing. I love STW but she can also skewer you brilliantly and I don't think I can face that yet. I also find it difficult to do anything creative, so I admire your knitting perseverance.

    I really like your supporting smaller businesses. I am trying to do that too!

    Reading is what gets me through the day - though I am working, more than usual, so my situation is a bit different. I have been spending more money on my daughter, though. She is finding it tough and won't be going back to school this term (she's ten and we're in Belgium). The Harry Potter audiobooks have proved a lifeline for her these past few weeks.

    1. Thanks Helen, much better now, but it was a wobbly few days. Still angry at the way our government is handling this (better communications would be a start) but trying to be personally positive. We are all doing this in such different circumstances and god knows it must be hard on school age children.

      I find knitting gives me some of the same sort of headspace that walking does (although I'm missing the exercise of actually walking) so it's been very helpful and I'm glad I can get on with something. I woke up this morning looking forward to a bit of STW so she'll be next off the pile!