This week something slightly different.
I am sure you have had enough of my online shopping battles and my failed attempts at tackling housework. I know I have.
Today my daughters’ school reopened for online business as usual after a two weeks Easter holiday. I have two daughters at the school, one in Year 10, and one in the Sixth Form, Year 12. My relationship with the school has not always been smooth. It was partly them, partly me. I have been known to scream, not always in my head, against school rules and against some individual teachers’ questionable competencies. My husband banned me from talking to certain members of the school staff a couple of years ago.
All water under the bridge now.
The school has been closed since the 23rd of March. The whole country switched to online learning. I have heard stories of how this has been working, or not, in other schools.
Our school has been nothing short of amazing.
We, the parents, receive daily email updates from the head teacher. Nothing much, just the ‘touch base’ message at the end of each school day. Every day just before or just after 3pm. I have grown to see these daily emails as comforting messages of stability and reassurance, a sign that that there are still some things we can rely on.
My Year 10 daughter registers at 8.20 am and is ‘at school’ until 3pm, with a 45 minutes lunch break from 1 pm to 1.45. She tells me off for interrupting her lessons, if I wander into her room during school day. Every single teacher puts in a lot of effort into preparing every single lesson. They use Google classroom for all communication purposes. I receive daily Google classroom updates on what each daughter did during the day. If anything, I feel overwhelmed by all the information I receive at the end of each school day. My daily updates give me access to the messages each teacher writes for the students. Their instructions are detailed and clear. Teachers encourage the girls to ask questions during or after each lesson. Some teachers greet them with a cheery ‘Morning Ladies’ (it’s a girls’ school). One way or another they have managed to keep the learning on track, and the motivation going.
St. Philomena’s Catholic High School for Girls, Carshalton, Surrey. Outstanding in every lockdown category.
The thing is, I don’t mind the lockdown.
It took me a while to reach this conclusion, but there it is, I said it now.
I reserve the right to change my mind later.
Lockdown works for me.
I totally take other people’s word for it that prolonged downtime is an absolute disaster for this thing called the economy, and I appreciate that many people suffer hardship, loneliness, misery, delayed medical treatments, and mental health issues because of it. I am aware of all of it.
But for me, personally, being confined to my house on the outskirts of London has not been an unpleasant experience so far.
I love waking up to unlimited amount of time. The time to do whatever I feel like doing, or if I don’t feel like doing anything, I give myself permission to do nothing at all, and, for the first time in my adult life there is not an iota of guilt attached, and it’s brilliant.
Because of all the extra time, I managed to establish something resembling a regular fitness routine for the first time in over twenty years. I know, I can hardly believe it myself.
Food shopping remains a pain, but I am finding ways to keep it simple. I have always been a woman of basic culinary tastes, which helps.
Not earning much money is an issue, but equally, there is precious little to spend it on, so it nearly balances out. The few expenses I do have are being covered, for the time being, by refunds from cancelled theatre shows, school trips, and Easter family holiday.
I am aware that this is not a viable long-term financial solution, but it works for now.
To pick up from yesterday’s admission about enjoying the lockdown, I have compiled a list of everything I do and don’t miss about ‘normal life’.
The things that I miss the most are, in no particular order;
Face to face silliness with my son. Attempting to do it over the phone does not work.
Sitting at a window table in Cafe Nero at Morleys in Brixton, opposite the giant underground sign, watching the world go by.
Catching up with friends, one at a time, in town, for lunch, gossip, and coffee.
The first sip of the ice-cream pina colada at the Everyman Cinema in Crystal Palace.
The basement, the first floor and the roof garden of the John Lewis in Oxford Street.
The view from Waterloo Bridge from a double-decker bus.
Theatre, any theatre, and in particular seeing a show with my daughters and discussing it over Costa coffee afterwards.
The South Bank.
Pub lunch after a Sunday walk in the country.
Reading India Knight’s column in The Sunday Times. Stopped buying it 4 weeks ago to avoid all the alarmist, negative, depressing, frightening, panic-inducing news.
Pret-A-Manger prosciutto and tomato baguette.
Driving to obscure places near London with my husband, and watching him get excited about a Victorian sewer or abandoned gunpowder works.
Ice-skating at Streatham on Sunday afternoons.
Crystal Palace Haynes Lane market.
Clothes shopping with my daughters. I never thought I’d say that.
And that’s about it really.
Now for everything I have not missed at all.
Public transport, especially the London Overground, especially the Jubilee Line interchange at Canada Water.
The rush hour fast trains from Norwood Junction to London Bridge.
The Northern Line.
Noisy teenagers on buses.
Chicken Cottage boxes on buses.
People who talk to themselves on buses, people who take two seats on buses, long waiting times for buses, and buses which do not open doors when there is still standing room available. I need to find a way to live my life without buses.
Catching 6.50am 468 bus to catch the 7.23 Orpington train from Herne Hill to catch the 8.12 Dover Priory train from Bromley South to get to Maidstone by 9.30
Permanent roadworks between West Norwood and Tulse Hill.
I am also very happy to live without celebrity news, reality TV, Brexit negotiations, climate change luvvies, Premier League football, and knowing the price of every dress Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, wears in public.