How to Survive Lockdown 2.0
18th Nov 2020
As the nights draw in and the numbers of Covid-19 infections climbs higher every day, there’s only one thing on everyone’s minds: how on earth are we going to survive another lockdown?
As of Thursday 5 November, restaurants, bars and beauty salons closed as the 'stay at home' message returned. The heavier restrictions, announced by Boris Johnson, follow the government's earlier measures – which didn't so much slam on the brakes as lightly tap them, with pubs closing an hour earlier . So, over the past month, there's been a creeping sense of inevitability that at some point we were all going to be confined to our homes again.
Hands up who’s still working through the loo roll mountain from last time around? Unless your job actually is supply chain management (and if it is, good luck to you for the next few months…), there’s no way of knowing what we’ll be able to lay our hands on easily and what we’d barter body parts for (who’d have guessed, back in February, that self-raising flour was about to become a precious commodity?). Anyway, it turns out, you can figure a way through a sudden lack of coconut milk or tinned tomatoes. The stuff you need to have adequate supplies of are the things that, when you realise you’ve run out, you slightly want to cry. Red wine, your best shampoo, chocolate pretzels… Forget nutrition and meal planning: get these essentials in now. And book up online delivery slots from now until the new year.
I’m not doing it. Look, we gave it a good go. Zoom went from an obscure business app to the most powerful company in the world, probably, in about three days, and we all did our best with cocktails and quizzes and baby showers and orgies conducted over lightly buffering wifi. But before the weblinks start flying around again, can we admit that none of it was that much fun? We’ve had a summer of actual social interaction and the real deal is clearly so superior that I think it might just have to sustain us until we’re released again. Ring me for a chat if you like, sure. Also happy to bitchily WhatsApp an evening away. I’ll go on FaceTime if you’re one of the people close enough to me to not care that I’m not making eye contact, occasionally checking my phone, or going to the loo at random moments. Beyond that, stop trying to make online social lives happen. It’s been nice knowing you, and let’s catch up in January (maybe).
What I’ll be doing instead, obviously, is watching TV. And, no, I didn’t already watch it all in the spring. Forced suddenly into long nights on the sofa I flicked desperately between Netflix, Amazon Prime, the iPlayer, Sky and panicked, honestly. What were these programmes? Were they good? How could I choose which to commit to? What was I in the mood for? Romcom or apocalyptic horror? There was no avoiding the latter really, it was happening outside, but I couldn’t settle on the appropriate distraction, so most evenings took on a similar routine of half an hour of scrolling endlessly through streaming options then settling for my usual two hours of dicking about on the internet, before a brief, horrifying realisation that I was literally wasting my life, then bed.
This time round, I’m going in prepared. Those watch lists are going to be curated to within an inch of their lives. And then I’m going to watch them. After all, this time I know I don’t need to choose – there’s time for every last one.
In April, feeling like I needed some comfier clothes for working from home, I bought two sweatshirts. And barring the odd heatwave that’s what I’ve worn since. It’s simplified the laundry, but I wouldn’t say it’s been great for my self-esteem. Not least because now, when required to actually put an outfit together, I can’t quite remember how it’s done, like trying to recall how you did simultaneous equations at school. Which things go with what? If you add something here, where do you take something away? So just for the sake of my own future non-lockdowned self, I’m going to have to make a bit more effort this time around. Yes, that’s right, I’m going to add a necklace to my sweatshirts.
Oh, remember when we were young and hopeful and thought lockdown might be a good time to sort our lives out, form some better habits, maybe write a novel. Well. Less said about that the better. This time around, there will be no over-optimistic booking of streamed yoga classes or attempts to make sourdough (what’s wrong with yeast, anyway? It comes in packets and you don’t have to keep something that’s literally alive in your fridge). I won’t be emerging, butterfly like, from a socially-isolated chrysalis. I’ll be stumbling out, blinking into the light, brushing off crumbs and piling bottles into the recycling. It’s the best I can do. See you on the other side.