The next few months are looking pretty bleak for many people. After several false starts, nobody knows when we’ll finally be able to relax a little. Fatigued from ping ponging between polarised viewpoints and interpretations of the statistics (and being pretty much numerically illiterate), I tend to get my take on things from personal accounts of people I trust, and my own gut instinct. On the former, I find few sources more trustworthy than those working in the eye of the storm, and on the latter, my *gut is telling me we’re currently in the shit but will come out the other side if we conduct as much of our daily business as possible either:
- In our homes (which is doable if you’re lucky enough to have a home, and a nice homelife)
- Two metres part and in the fresh air (great but not everyone can get out or lives anywhere nice enough to go for a walk)
- Wearing a hazmat suit at the supermarket/petrol station (this is probably not practical)
*In a more literal sense, my gut is also telling me I need to stop eating the shit things left in the selection boxes and start eating salad but that’s for another blog.
I’ve spoken and written about how I kept myself sane during the last lockdown in both a serious and light-hearted sense. And in doing both I was always conscious that there's obviously far bigger and more serious stuff going on in many people’s lives which puts everything into stark perspective. These are just my random thoughts on how 4 mundane topics I’d given barely a second’s thought to now take up so much space in my brain.
1. Anxiety about leaving the house: I shit myself when I go anywhere now (not literally obvs). The plinkety plonk supermarket music has taken on a new, sinister tone as I walk purposefully around other shoppers trying not to get breathed on. A walk along the canal has become a bevy of British politeness as myself and fellow dog walkers try to get as far as we can apart from each other without falling in, and as I open and close doors and gates in public places, the possibility of absent-mindedly touching my face afterwards feels like I'm literally taking my life in my hands.
2. My irritation about masks: Have you got your mask? I say this to myself and my son this every time we leave the house (which is seldom these days I have to admit). It’s a pain in the arse to have to ensure there’s always a clean mask handy, in my pocket or my car, and of course to wear one, but for every negative thought about masks, I can think a million positive ones about the NHS staff, drivers, retail workers and more people of general awesomeness who are wearing them for hours on end. At the other end of the scale, we have those awful cocky types who strut around Tesco maskless, almost daring you to challenge them. Or the ones who wear them but keep pulling them down for that all-important conversation that can’t be had while wearing one, or (if you’re a z list celeb), that essential airplane selfie. For the rest of us, the reason we wear them should be to protect those who for whatever reason are exempt from wearing them – not to protect ourselves from twats.
3. My preoccupation with handles: I never realised how many handles there are in my house, how critical they are to my life and how often I use them; fridge, freezer, toilets, doors, cupboards and drawers... Then there are the bannisters. I want to publicly thank handles and bannisters for all they do, but I deeply resent having to spray them with watered down Zoflora twice a day. Of course you may be reading this feeling like nothing’s changed – you already had a robust cleaning regime and you’ve simply maintained it. If that’s you, I salute you. Or you may be someone with a far more relaxed approach with no intention of changing it. I salute you for that too because I’ve morphed into Hyacinth Bouquet and it’s quite annoying.
4. Thinking about bins: Sorting out some recycling earlier (the glamour!), I realised my level of anxiety about going out to the bin was probably a little out of hand. But on the other hand, the person who last touched your bin (not a euphemism) has also touched the bin of hundreds of other people, taking it from an inanimate object to a full-on threat. And don’t get me started on bin day.
I guess one of the things we’ve learnt from the pandemic is how quickly things can change, big and small. How the previously mundane can suddenly take on a whole new meaning. And how ultimately, all that matters is that we stay as physically and mentally healthy as we can during this strange and frightening time. Please ask for help when, for whatever reason, that isn’t possible.
I promise I’ll try not to blog about bins again.