The GWG editorial team shares and reflects after several weeks of isolation in far flung parts of the country.
Nancy Alsop, EditorA few weeks into lockdown, it’s interesting to note what creatures of habit we are, and yet how adaptable. I have watched in wonderment as my four-year-old has mostly taken the huge changes in her stride, all without really understanding why, beyond the fact that a lot of people have ‘a big cough.’ Yet within the constrictions, we’ve slipped into a routine, and whilst our individual worlds have contracted, that regularity is comforting.
And yet there’s no use pretending that it’s all mucking-along jollity. Whilst mostly we do muck along – working, playing, running as much as we can – there are, naturally, darker moments. Or, as Leonard Cohen put it more beautifully than I ever could, ‘there is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.’ I guess the cracks are, in essence, empathy; taking on how this situation might be for people in really hard situations.
I oscillate wildly between concentrating on the few upsides – the positive impact on the air that we breathe, the lessening of rampant consumerism – and feeling anxious about those are who really suffering beyond mere boredom and frustration. Those who have the virus itself. Those in dangerous domestic situations who cannot escape them. Those with other critical illnesses who have to go through them alone, without family nearby. The charities that may not survive this. Those who have lost livelihoods. Those who are grieving. Those who are lonely.
None of this is to suggest that I’m not anxious about my own life. Ridiculous as it is, I’m worried that our favourite local riverside pub – a pub so idyllic that we moved here in part to be near it – won’t pull through! And I’m anxious about the effect of no nursery will be on my daughter when suddenly, in September, she’s expected to go to school full time, having been in our pockets day-in, day-out, in all likelihood, for months. She will no doubt be well and truly sick of us, but when the moment finally comes, will she also have hard time separating again?
I’ve found that, in lockdown, social media has shown itself both at its best and at its worst – in a way, a magnified microcosm of what it always is. The support and encouragement people have extended to one another is wonderful to see, expressed in the altruistic sharing of expertise (teaching, exercise, cookery and more). The rallying around small businesses to help them survive is also heart-warming. And my hero of the moment? Why, along with the rest of the planet, it has to be Captain Tom Moore, the 99-year-old war veteran who, at the time of writing, had raised £27m for the NHS by walking in his garden for his hundredth birthday.
Yet I have been less impressed by those who have flaunted lockdown situations which are really pretty enviable (vast gardens/ tennis courts/swimming pools and the like). Appearances are not everything, but this kind of thing serves as a timely reminder to think about who might be seeing what you post: it could well be those living with no outside space, and not enough of it indoors either. I hope that lockdown makes us considerate of others; showing off – especially while lecturing others, another trend that has been out in force – is not in the spirit of the solidarity we all need right now.
I am grateful for my family’s current health; for online communication; for regular phone calls with my friends and wider family; for the deserted cemetery I eulogised in my last diary entry; and for being allowed out for daily riverside walks nearby. They are a little reminder that nature is marching on. Butterflies, bees and ladybirds are all gadding around, and I am always delighted to spot the resident heron in a tributary of the Thames around the corner from my house.
Mostly though, I add my voice to the deafening chorus grateful for the NHS. Banging pots and pans for them on a Thursday night is a small gesture, but one that I hope raises morale as a token of how indebted we are. For their heroism is not of the showy set piece variety. It is the doctors’, the nurses’, the cleaners’ and the administrators’ every day. It is their routine and daily it puts them in danger’s path. Many must feel afraid and yet they go to work anyway. Mark Twain wrote that ‘It is curious that physical courage should be so common in the world and moral courage so rare.’ This is both. And, as it turns out, it is not so very rare, at least not amongst those who work in the National Health Service.
Arabella Dymoke, Managing DirectorApart from the uncertainty of how long this is going to last, which I still haven't got my head around, there are lots of positives. Having more time with my family is definitely an upside.
We've all been forced to take stock of our lives, with taking care of ourselves at the top of the list. Now that you can't run off to a Pilates class or have a facial, you realise that it's perfectly possible to do all these kinds of things at home and still feel good about yourself.
When we come through lockdown, I'm hoping that I’ll have put some new routines into my every day, so that I can live life to a gold standard, the best I can possibly achieve. They say it takes more than two months to turn a new behaviour into part of your daily regime. Well, if you haven’t started already, there really is no excuse. Meditating regularly is still on my list of non-starters to date.
All those jobs that have been staring at me for years, I now seem to be doing them. There's a long list but I've made some headway, and that was within the first few days. More than a month in, I have slowed down a bit but intend to work through the list.
There is zero food waste in our house. Every last scrap of food is eaten, along with some aged contents of the freezer that have been there for too many years I care to remember. The same goes for tins and jars in the larder.
It's great to see local businesses rise to the challenge and now delivering. I have made orders with the butcher and fishmonger and will do so as long as they keep it up.
Charlie Mackesy on Instagram has kept me grounded, his drawings always make me feel better about life, and now even more so. How prescient was the publication of his book last year. Little did we know how much his wise words would mean to us in 2020.
It's fantastic to see all the creativity that businesses are coming up with. Fun craft projects on Boden, the women's networking club, The Allbright offering its members a full schedule of online events, Pilates classes by Zoom, bread making courses, not forgetting Joe Wicks, for keeping the nation fit. Like Nancy, I’ve been humbled by Captain Tom Moore's efforts. Watching his JustGiving page zoom up in the millions shows the power of the web. I'm looking forward to his 100th birthday, a truly heroic gentleman.
And one last thing… You know all those freebies that hotels give you? Well this is the ideal time to use them up. Little soaps, bubble bath, conditioner: I'm making good headway through them. It feels good to use what we have even if some of the soap is purple and heavily scented.
Lydia Mansi, Lifestyle EditorBeing in the high-risk ‘shielding’ group has added another layer to self-isolation that I wasn’t quite prepared for. Whilst day-to-day I am following the same general guidelines as the rest of the UK, it means I am not allowed out for an hour’s outdoors exercise, to do essential shopping or, in general, to cross my threshold. It has meant that we have had to rely on online orders for EVERYTHING and whilst my online shopping habits are wide and varied normally, they’ve definitely been tested by the elusive hunt for a supermarket delivery slot. Things are better now the Government has shared the shielding list with the major retailers. But even four weeks since the shielding letter landed on my doorstep, rendering me housebound for three months, I still haven’t got used to not ‘popping out’ for daily errands, doing the school run, or coming into contact with anyone I’m not either married to, or have given birth to.
We are lucky to live in rural Devon, yet even the beach at the end of the road can’t offer me solace right now. However, I am working my way through the huge array of online workout classes in my back garden and ensuring I get an hour of sunlight each day for a much needed zap of Vitamin D. I’m lucky that as a freelance journalist and brand consultant, working from home is my MO, so my Monday to Friday routine doesn’t look that different (albeit with two rather confused, cabin feverish boys under my desk fighting over Lego and snacks).
Of course it goes without saying I am super lucky - I have everything at my disposal and to be able to work and live comfortably at home. Of course there are upsides amidst the fear and unknown: spending more time together as a family unit, the slower mornings, more time to cook, craft, chat… Don’t get me wrong, I will be running for the hills (or the beach) as soon as I can for some peace, space and fresh air, but until then, I’m staying home and staying safe – happily.
Becky Ladenburg, Features EditorAs the novelty of lockdown has worn off, my energy levels have slumped. Easter was a great and uplifting focus. Since then, I have felt, pretty much for the first time in my life, bored. I have plenty of domestic, horticultural, educational, professional and personal tasks to attend to — but I find I’m often too cross and lethargic to do any of them. Occasionally, though, I dress in proper clothes, zip around like a whirling dervish and become the lockdown lady I want to be. And so the peculiar emotional rollercoaster continues...
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