Proud Mum Moment or Three

After a government-enforced spring laziness (thank you, Boris and Rishi), we are now once more full steam ahead. There is simply no stopping our burgeoning family book business.

At the time of writing, Alexia has got no less than three book covers to her name, please see the pictures below.
Jaimie, Ania and Cordelia are doing their level best to write fast enough to keep up with Alexia’s prolific graphic design skills.
Even the husband joins in, albeit grudgingly, bringing his invaluable formatting talents to the table.

 

Hot off the presses!

TLWLFrontCover

It’s taken its time, but it’s finally here.

As the blurb accurately describes it, it’s an ultimate vanity project. A story of my first steps in England, from a nervous arrival at Heathrow in July 1988 until it no longer felt like a holiday.

I would like to thank a small army of people who made it possible; my editors, proofreaders, graphic designer, publisher, and kdp-formatter.
Aka my family.

It is available in paperback on Amazon.co.uk

The Kindle version is coming soon, I am told.

I hope you enjoy it. I certainly enjoyed writing it.

 

 

Post-lockdown Angst

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A short one today, to match my current attention span.

Post-lockdown world dawns. The country is reopening, the nation is able to banish grey roots and tame tousled beards once again. Yay, I suppose.
Still, saying goodbye to the pyjama part of 2020 fills me with inexplicable sadness. I am also more than a little lost what to do next. Am I the only one?

Nine or ten weeks ago the instructions were clear; stay at home, or else. I did, religiously so.  The Stay Alert which followed, was a tad less clear, but I could live with that. I looked over my shoulder a lot and I was fine.
But now? What are we meant to do now? Is it still ok to stay at home all weekend, or are we supposed to play a frantic catch up game? Run out the doors, queue up at a drive-through, stock up at a garden centre, and get a takeaway latte?

A lot of things did not happen for me this year, Easter holiday and a trip to South Africa around now stand out the most. At the time, I felt deprived and very sorry for myself and my family. And yet, foreign travel is the last thing I would like to do right now.

I am going through a last-minute rush to quickly do something now that I should have started in April, but really didn’t feel like it during the long lazy early lockdown weeks. Is it possible that I am missing that blissful idleness already? The glorious slowness of it all? Lockdown nostalgia sounds absurd when dentists are still to re-open. And yet.

This morning, with nothing to show for our family lockdown except tupperware boxes perfectly matched up with their lids, I threw myself at the spare bedroom’s walls armed with a scraper and that thing you spray plants with. I spent a couple of hours frantically stripping wallpaper. Layer after layer after layer; fifty years’ worth of wall covering, all gone. I feel a bit better now, but I have a niggling feeling that I had left it too late.

Every day is beginning to come with its own agenda again and I wonder how much longer I will be able to resist the ‘back to normal’ trend.

I really liked the idea from a couple of months ago that if one day was proving a complete false start, I could discard it by about eleven in the morning, and there was another identical one coming in less than 24 hours which I could start properly. This doesn’t sound like a viable option any more. The expectation to have something to show for each and every day has returned, and I don’t like it.

Poland News for my non-Polish friends

Poland elects their new president for the next five years tomorrow. Second round of voting. Two candidates remain out of the original eleven. Polls suggest they are neck and neck.

Latest predictions say they literally sit at 50% each. I feel genuinely sad for my Polish friends in Poland, as there seems to be no ideal candidate, so a lot of them have resigned themselves to voting for a ‘lesser evil’ tomorrow.

In the red corner (although the colour is largely irrelevant here, as they are both, curiously, broadly speaking right wing candidates), the incumbent, Andrzej Duda, who has the support of the government. His views are openly and proudly, yes proudly, nationalistic, strongly Catholic, anti-LGBT+, anti-abortion in any circumstances, anti-EU, mainly because of Germany’s strong role in the Union, climate change ‘sceptic’. You get the gist.

He is loved by millions who benefited from the government’s generous welfare packages of the last few years.

In the blue corner, the opposition golden boy, who had joined the race rather late in the day, which gave his campaign a feel of being a little bit rushed and unclear, Rafał Trzaskowski.

His past employment history boasts the positions of the mayor of Warsaw, and the Euro MP. He is fluent in English (has a degree in English) and not bad in a few other European languages, a YouTube soundbite showcasing his drop dead sexy Spanish accent is meant to seduce undecided voters.

Not as completely different from his opponent as the social media would make you believe, and definitely not as left wing as the truly liberal electorate would wish him to be, but compared to Duda, he can be called a progressive candidate.

A lesser evil in the eyes of many.

I will keep you posted on what happened next.

Britain this week

Warning: this blog piece contains the author’s political views that some readers will find offensive.

 

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I am writing this mainly as a note to my future self, because I fear that when I reminisce about recent developments in a couple of years’ time, I might be tempted to think my memory is playing tricks on me.

Gavin and Stacey, a comedy TV show starring James Corden and a bunch of other dim but lovable characters, has caused offence by calling a black person… black, and a Chinese person, yep, you guessed it – Chinese, and is therefore pending review and a decision whether it should be taken off streaming channels for ever more.
The show attracted over 11 million viewers last Christmas, with no complaints. But fair enough, Christmas was a very long time ago.

Little Britain has already fallen, struck down by a mighty sword wielded by another crusader fighting racial injustice, that well-known scourge of our country in mid-2020.

Lord Baden-Powell’s statue on Bournemouth-Poole seafront is under threat of being torn down, because the founder of worldwide Scouting movement is now denounced as a homophobe and a Nazi sympathiser. Local Scouts are keeping guard on both sides of the statue overnight to prevent his removal.

Lady Antebellum changed their artistic name in case it offends people. This caused confusion in Britain, because the majority of people did not understand who it might offend and for what reasons; this might be a reflection on the quality of our education.

Statues of Winston Churchill in Parliament Square, George Washington outside the National Gallery, the war memorial Cenotaph in Whitehall have all been boarded up overnight to prevent their anticipated defacing and vandalism during upcoming Saturday afternoon BLM protest in Central London.

Breaking News. BLM have now cancelled their main event in Hyde Park, fearing the backlash from right wing groups. The way I see it, they cancelled, because with Churchill, Washington and several other statues sealed off, where is the fun in ‘peaceful protest’.

According to 2011 Census, 3% of people identified as Black/Black African/Black Caribbean in Britain. This week they are holding the rest of the British population ransom and demand that we re-write, revise and if necessary erase vast parts of our history.

Britain is not a racist country. Black people in Britain are not being discriminated against. The reason why they are ‘under-represented’ in all walks of life is because there are 3% of them in the country, there are only so many of them that can be visible everywhere, all the time.

White people in Britain have been trained, conditioned, and warned to be over-cautious not to think, say or do anything that might be perceived as remotely racist. This has had an effect on me too. I tense up every time I encounter a black person in my professional or private life. The first thought that rushes through my mind is, oh my God, what if I say something and they take it the wrong way and I cause offence.
I live in South London, where the ratio of black people to white people is significantly above national average. Whenever I sit next to a black person on a bus, I avoid eye contact, in case they don’t like the way I look at them. Yes, I am being paranoid about it. Or am I?

White teenagers in my part of London are used to being treated with contempt by their black peers. They are being excluded from black only friendship groups and laughed at for the way they pronounce plantain. They are being told, ‘you won’t understand this, because you are white’. Imagine if a white person said that to their black classmates, what outrage, what consequences that would cause. They would be lucky not to be permanently excluded from the school, because ‘we do not tolerate racism in our school’.

In the aftermath of Covid-19 pandemic, which is by no means over, the country is facing a host of burning issues we should expend our energies on. Toppling statues of founders of hospitals, 18th century philanthropists and builders of the industry, because a racist white cop unlawfully killed a black detainee in Minneapolis three weeks ago is not one of them.

 

 

Poland, the country I no longer know

Warning: a long read on the subject I know little about, but when did that stop anybody?

 

Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza (Election Gazette) used to be my favourite source of news and gossip from Poland. The journalists were of decent quality, the writing entertaining. Alas, Gazeta Wyborcza became subscription-only a few years ago, not even one free taster article a month, just a few lines fading away before it got interesting. Subscription fee is negligible but it’s the principle that I object to; so Gazeta was out.

I do not watch Polish TV, not since I got tired of maintaining the charade that the Cyfra+ satellite dish affixed to the side of my London house was in fact firmly screwed onto a wall somewhere in Poland. The owners of this particular satellite TV insisted that only people who resided in Poland could access their services; Cyfra+ was out too.

My visits to Poland over the years have been short and far between and when I did go, it was to immerse myself in a picture perfect countryside, my tourist status shielding me from everyday Polish realities.

I left Poland more than three decades ago. For several years after that I busied myself designing, building, destroying, and re-building my new life in London. My days were spent moving and decorating houses, giving births, getting and losing jobs, and performing similar life-defining rituals. All this left me with no time to follow the news from Poland. I did not keep up with any of the major political, social, and cultural changes that Poland was going through after the end of Communism.

The crazy 1990s came and went, my stormy personal dramas went with them, replaced by so-called life stability. At about the same time, the Internet started to gain momentum, so I could read the latest news from around the world with my morning coffee.

Gazeta Wyborcza was in its infancy, but it was still free of charge. I understood little of what I read; with a few exceptions, all names and faces in Polish public life had changed when I was busy elsewhere, which was frustrating. I felt the growing sense of detachment. Poland was slipping through my fingers.

A few more years had passed, my life was running at full speed, and then suddenly, wham! Poland joined the EU, and the job seeking Poles began to arrive on these shores in their tens (hundreds?) of thousands.

Names of new generation of Polish politicians and public figures were slowly finding their way to my consciousness again, but it was all strange, foreign, and surreal. Donald Tusk stood out with his speech about the power of love after he won the general election, possibly in 2007, but don’t quote me on dates. Tusk is better known here as the EU President during recent Brexit negotiations, but he is also an ex-PM of Poland.

The only thing I was still able to understand was the language, but even that had morphed into an inevitable twenty first century version of itself, which did not exist when I lived there.

Around the same time, but my time frames are wonky, reading about Poland online led me to a few shock discoveries. The biggest one was that Lech Wałęsa was no longer the Gdansk dockyard strike hero I remembered him to be.  His widely respected status as the Solidarity leader, the Peace Nobel Prize winner all forgotten; he was suddenly being denounced as a double agent and a traitor, seen as bringing nothing but shame and embarrassment to Poland worldwide. The shift in perception, brought about as a result of ongoing political in-fighting and mud-slinging, stayed mainly within Polish borders; the world at large continued to see Wałęsa as before – the one man symbol of Poland’s fight against Communism in the 1980s. The discovery of the change in Wałęsa’s status in Poland was a definite sign that Poland had become the country I no longer knew, the country in which nothing made sense any more.

Where am I going with this? Good question.

Let’s fast forward to the present day. Year 2020, glorious springtime weather.

The world that I do know is making shaky small steps out of lockdown. Public discussions revolve around when and under what conditions it might be safe to open schools, pubs, restaurants and IKEA stores. The threat of the second wave is paralysing the hope of long term return to normality. Finding the vaccine is the Holy Grail. We nervously listen to any new information coming out of China, just in case it’s more bad news. We read about what is happening in the US, and we shake our heads with disbelief. We are curious whether the Swedish way might prove a winner after all.  That’s more or less the mood of the last few weeks.

What is happening in Poland at these unprecedented times?

Poland is getting ready for their presidential election. Again. The election was originally scheduled for the 10th of May, the government refused to cancel it until the very last moment, there was a plan to hold it entirely by postal vote, but that caused issues with GDPR (Poland is held hostage to GDPR on the scale we cannot imagine here), it was finally postponed and now due to take place in July.

A new candidate has emerged recently, to join a long list of already existing candidates. Social media revel in comparing the level of spoken English the new candidate displays, against that of the incumbent president, to a marked disadvantage of the latter.

In other news, Polish small business owners have travelled to Warsaw every other Saturday afternoon for the last few weeks, to hold a ‘strike action’ as they call it, on the streets of the capital, where they are being challenged by the police for breaking social distancing rules. Arrests are made, faces are burned with nasty government-issue spray. From what I’ve seen online, the protests do not attract huge numbers of people, and from where I stand, it is not entirely clear what exactly their demands are. Admittedly, I might be standing too far. I asked a few better informed friends, but I got classic Polish answers – we are fighting for freedom, democracy, justice, dignity and did I mention freedom?

Poland walked away from Communism in 1989. That was a trendy thing to do at the time if you were an Eastern European country, with the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia all happening the same year.

Poland followed its own unique path to that historical junction, after an eventful decade of changes, taking the birth of Solidarity in 1980 and the Martial Law of 1981 in its stride.

What happened next continues, unbelievably, to this day.

31 years later people still accuse each other of past or present Communist sympathies, they call their political opponents ‘the commies’, although it is unclear to me what this term even means in 2020 Poland.

Catholic Church continues to play a huge part in Polish lives, their iron grip on the country’s ‘morality’ is unprecedented in Europe. The country is currently governed by a far right, ultra-Catholic, socially conservative Law and Justice party (L&J), their opponents quick to point out that Lawlessness and Injustice would be a more fitting name.
Abortion is illegal except in the most extreme life-saving situations.
Gay marriage is an offensive concept among considerable portion of Polish population. Homosexuality in general is seen as an abomination by more people than you would think possible in the 21st century.
Large shops are closed on three out of every four Sundays a month to allow Catholic Poles to respect God’s day of rest and spend this day with family, focused on worship and spiritual reflection.

There is more. There is an ongoing ‘assault on the independence of Polish judiciary’ if you listen to the opposition, or ‘the purging of the justice system of deep-rooted corruption’, if you are the government supporter.

Polish public has learnt to live with these rules and attitudes, although a large number of progressive liberal Poles despair about the country’s political direction.

The opposition is hopelessly fragmented and as such cannot agree a united front against the government. Every now and again a fresh face appears among the liberals – I use this term loosely, a catch-all for the anti L&J activists – and captures the hopes of all those who oppose current rule of hard-line Catholics. None of them stays long enough to mount successful campaign though, because nobody has recently managed to unite large enough numbers under their leadership. They either lack charisma, or they manage to offend various sections of society with their ill-advised comments, or both.
And then there are those who fantasise about bringing back Donald Tusk as the nation’s saviour in its hour of need. It’s all a mess.

Remember the outrage a few years ago when it was discovered that Polish immigrants in the UK were claiming British Child Benefit for children living in Poland? It would not happen now, the new Polish child benefit is five times higher than ours. No kidding. How can Polish government afford it? No idea, but their investment paid off and the Law and Justice party won their second term in office in October 2019. Their opponents say that they bribed their way to victory by offering generous packet of welfare benefits to the worst off sections of the population.

All these political squabbles and relentless anti-government mockery on social media continues this year, almost entirely undisturbed by Covid-19.  Official figures coming from Poland suggest that the pandemic had been kind to Poland with total of 1025 deaths at the time of writing (26/5/2020) in the country of nearly 38 million.

Are these figures to be trusted?
Who knows? It’s Poland. The country I no longer know, no longer comprehend.

 

 

Week 7 and a half? The end?

Word of the week is: Confusion.

Does anybody know if lockdown ended on Wednesday?
Are we now meant to start releasing ourselves from seven weeks of hostage situation and onto the streets? And if so, how? Whatever feels right for each of us individually, or is there in fact a method in this madness and I simply missed the memo?  Does it mean I can stop writing my lockdown diary without being seen as somebody who never sees anything through to the end?

Schools are still closed, but if the unions have their way, they will remain closed for the next decade, so that is no longer an indicator of anything.

My daughters have arranged to meet up with a school friend later today for some socially distanced face to face time, as my understanding is that we are now allowed to socialise with one person from outside the household. This means that the three of us will stay within current guidelines, but their friend will be three times over the legal limit, as she will be meeting three people from outside her household.

I still cannot go to the hairdresser’s, I am however encouraged to go back to work, but preferably not by public transport, which is equal to saying don’t go to work, because how else do I get to Central London? I look at photos of overcrowded rush hour tube trains, and there is no way in hell I am going back there. Not to mention that going to work without seeing my hairdresser first is totally out of the question.

Freecycle websites are confused too. Lambeth, Southwark and Wandsworth are opening for business slowly, but Croydon, Merton, Lewisham and Sutton are still firmly locked. That’s right, I am a member of 7 local Freecycle groups; what is your hobby?

Crystal Palace Park traffic levels leave me none the wiser. Saturday night was packed with gangsta boys burning rubber in the car park, blasting rap out of mean looking trucks, and giving us dirty looks for daring to glance at them, but Sunday was back to usual grannies with their shaggy dogs, plus a few skaters and roller-bladers on the bridge.

Another dilemma. Do I invest in a pair of insanely overpriced Sweaty Betty jogging bottoms, to give my lockdown-inspired running routine an early boost it sorely needs, or do I save the money I don’t have for a series of hair and beauty treatments that are desperately overdue? My face and its surrounding areas are so washed out, all my features have blended into this beigey-grey pixelated blob. Restoration work will be neither cheap nor easy, and I am fine with that. What I would like to understand though is when I am going to be legally allowed to have my eyebrows plucked by somebody else rather than my daughters.

 

Week 7

Just when I thought I would have nothing major to show for the lockdown era, this week had a surprise for me.

This week I went for a jog.

I wouldn’t quite call it a run. Those of you who know me are already busy picking their jaws from the floor.

What’s more, I really think I might be onto something.

I might have accidentally discovered a doable method of easing yourself into jogging if you are a lazy, unfit, slightly overweight middle aged woman.

It is really simple.
A few easy steps.

In the spirit of lockdown generosity, I am sharing my method here for free.

First, you lay the foundations by spending the initial few weeks (lockdown conditions helps) walking the same bloody route around Crystal Palace Park every single day. By all means use your local park instead, no need to crowd our narrow paths more than they already are.

This part is crucial. Walking the same route for over a month makes you so tired of it, you begin to look for ways to speed up the routine, and you start toying with the idea of picking up speed and running the length of your route. A case of familiarity breeds confidence.
By the end of week six you foolishly convince yourself that you might actually be able to run it. You know for certain you could walk that path with your eyes closed. You know every bush, every twig, every beer can on the way, you have been watching the duck family of 8 with fondness every day for a month, and you know which tree the green London parakeets screech the loudest in.

So anyway, day 42 and you think, fuck it, I could run this path if I wanted to, surely I could. Do I want to though? You then spend the next couple of days walking it so fast you overtake everybody along the way. You set yourself a challenge. Wednesday. Still safely a couple of days away. That’s when you are going to do your first jog. Wednesday arrives before you are ready for it, but you have foolishly announced your plans to the family so true to your word, you break into a jog.

You are doing well for the first couple hundred yards, and then your chest is beginning to feel funny, your stomach does somersaults, you wish you didn’t eat so much for lunch.
You carry on until you absolutely have to stop. You walk for a bit, but that makes you feel like such a pathetic loser you pick up pace again. You end up half walking half running around the lake and back to the bridge by the leisure centre where you started. Your cheeks are burning, you are sweating like a pig, and you are breathing heavily, mouth open, chest doing overtime.

You did it. First time this side of thirty, not to mention fifty. It feels good. Tomorrow you will do better. So there, jogging, nailed it.

 

Whilst we are in the generous sharing mood, I am happy to impart a few other lockdown surprise findings, or What I’ve Learnt So Far.

It is possible to spend all day doing nothing and still go to bed feeling you’d run out of time to do what you planned.

The way things are going I can see that the day I finally master a well-balanced lockdown routine, will be the day restrictions end.

When the going gets tough living with teenagers is a blessing. Their optimism, sense of humour, and energy are keeping me sane.

Eggs and flour make a huge difference to one’s quality of life.

Human nature dictates that we choose the path of least resistance whenever possible, and that means alternating between Netflix, Amazon Prime and the fridge.
There are annoying exceptions to this rule, the people who did not google the path of least resistance before deciding how to spend the enforced slowdown period, and they can be seen in tight fitting lycra on early morning run, or late at night watering their newly sprouted courgettes or whatever.

Cheese on toast, jam on toast, banana on toast. All greatly underrated dinner alternatives in the ‘no delivery slots available’ world.

Lockdown Week 6

Week six went really quickly. So much so I did not keep up with the diary, or much else for that matter. No idea how and where the time went, all I know is I frittered away the whole week with very little to show for it. I blame the heavy rain on Tuesday. Or was it Wednesday.

After initial confusion arrives a semblance of clarity. Certain things are becoming obvious.

Number one. I am not going to achieve any great things during lockdown. Despite promising early signs in mid-March, I am not going to emerge at the end of June, or whenever, as a skateboarding pro fluent in French. Not happening.
I have managed to dodge every opportunity to improve gardening and baking skills too.

The closest I come to mindfulness is staring out of the window for prolonged periods of time. It’s a nice view. Very therapeutic.

I am the true embodiment of ‘the lack of time was not the problem’ meme.

If I were destined to achieve greatness in anything, it would have happened by now, I would not need a global pandemic to spur me on.

Arriving at this harsh home truth does hurt a little, so I quickly click play on yet another episode of Silent Witness (I am on season 12 now) to dilute the full meaning of week six reality check.

Number two. It might be an age thing, but I’d rather do without certain things altogether than go for their online substitutes on Zoom, or YouTube. Theatre shows, art exhibitions, coffee with friends. I miss all of the above, but doing it online is not doing it for me. I’d rather stare out of the window.

Three. I discovered that there comes a point in the life of a vanity prone middle-aged locked down woman when the state of her roots is beginning to overshadow pretty much everything else. This point is most likely reached sometime during week six. After that, any face time communication is strictly limited to members of immediate household until a satisfactory solution is found.

Moving on.
Workload has gone up a notch this week. The increase has been mainly due to a large number of NHS 111 calls relating to severe dental pain. Mixed blessing as by the end of each such call I feel as if I all my teeth are aching.

Meanwhile, my husband is making a name for himself as the Waddington Way Juggler. Every afternoon without fail, he goes out to juggle on a strip of grass surrounded by woodland at the end of our road called The Lawns.

He informed me recently that he had developed a juggler’s shoulder, an injury akin to tennis elbow, which afflicts top jugglers everywhere. No, not really, but it sounds good.

What is true however, is that he has been approached by total strangers, asking him excitedly, ‘Are you the Juggler?’, to which he proudly replies, ‘Yes, I am’.

If he plays his squishy balls right he might become the first family member to earn a blue plaque.
The Waddington Way Juggler stood in this spot every day during the 2020 Lockdown’. 

This would be only the second time in history that a blue plaque has been awarded to an Upper Norwood resident.
The first one went of course to Pickles, the mixed breed collie, who found the stolen FIFA World Cup trophy on an evening walk with his owner in Beulah Hill area in March 1966. Which is a juggling ball’s throw from The Lawns.

 

Lockdown Week 5

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.

20/04/2020 Monday
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.

22/04/2020 Wednesday

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.

23/04/2020 Thursday
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.