Around the middle of January, I scrolled through the news app on my phone. I had my breakfast of Special K and coffee made with Hazelnut Milk and skimmed through a news report about a virus outbreak in China. That was a long way from me so I barely gave it a second thought. Life continued as normal. (I never imagined that several weeks later I’d be searching the shelves for Hazelnut Milk. We don’t drink cow’s milk.)
A few weeks later I went shopping in Oxford with my friend and we joked about the women we saw who covered their faces with scarfs when we got into the lift with them in Debenhams. Never imagining for one moment that in a matter of weeks Debenhams would be closed. That our shopping trips to Oxford would never be the same again.
‘It’s in China, not here,’ we said.
How naive we were.
So, life continued. I read about a few outbreaks in other countries but it still didn’t touch us.
Later, I read about people being stuck on cruise ships because of outbreaks of the Corona Virus. I remember feeling a small pang of anxiety and then quickly pushed my worries to one side. But then I started reading about Facebook friends who were stuck on these cruise ships. I checked the number of cases in the UK, saw it was very small and carried on as normal, albeit slightly nervous.
Then, in the middle of February, I became very unwell. I had a continuous dry cough. I would wake up in the middle of the night soaked in sweat and coughing. The next few days I felt like I had a really bad cold or mild flu. I ached and my legs felt heavy. There was mention of the Corona Virus in Europe so I stayed home, not in the least convinced I had it. I did, however, feel very unwell. The continuous dry cough drove me nuts. I developed a terrible headache with flashing lights in my right eye. I’d never had that before. My blood pressure went through the roof.
‘I must have the flu,’ I said.
But it didn’t feel quite like flu. I didn’t have a sore throat. I had a bit of sneezing but nothing excessive. But I was very tired.
Now, I wonder, did I have it? Shortly after, Andrew became unwell. He said it was the worst cold he’d ever had.
Now, here we are. Isolation for everyone.
Strange times. Andrew is on a 2 week holiday. We were going to York. We were going to have lunches out. Instead, today Andrew has to go into work to collect any important documents and laptops he needs to work from home.
Yesterday we sorted through the freezer. A long overdue job and found loads of meals we’d frozen and forgotten about. They’ll all have to be eaten now.
Today Andrew ordered a hair trimmer! I hope he doesn’t ask me to trim his hair.
My grandson is the only child in the village school. That seemed weird. I think there may have been one other child. The schools are closed except for front line worker’s children. My grandson’s parents are both nurses.
Day 1 lockdown
After Boris Johnson’s briefing last night 23/03/2020 I awoke this morning feeling strange. Last night Boris Johnson said all shops would be closed and to shop online if you could. I’d spent last night looking online for cat food. I assure you that my cat will survive even if I don’t. I was stunned to see online shopping websites closed due to the demand. Everything on the Wilko site was sold out. I then laid awake for over an hour working out what food we had in the freezer and how much cat food there was in the cupboard and whether we could spare some chicken breast for our boy (yes he’s spoilt), while feeling overwhelming anger, verging on murderous thoughts, towards those people whose homes are no doubt bulging with toilet roll, cat food, kitchen towel, hand sanitizer and god knows what! I woke up feeling I was in a Margaret Attwood novel.
We don’t have a television so we’re not being bombarded by the news. We watch it as and when we think it is important to do so.
I decided to plan my days. Keep busy. Lots of knitting, crochet, and writing. A walk every day, which is essential.
I’m thinking of those people who live in high rise flats. We have lovely weather. I’m lucky I can step out into my garden or walk through my village.
So much in our lives has changed already. I’m cleaning the house obsessively. What’s new?
I never thought I’d be disinfecting the doorbell on a regular basis or that I would almost choke rather than cough in public. Or that my closest friends would become WhatsApp mates, only.
And I thought Brexit would be bad. Good practice for what is to come.
At least we have wine.
Day 2 of Lockdown
Andrew is to work from home once his holiday is over and to think I was dreading semi-retirement. So far so good. The knives are still in the drawer and I haven’t threatened to leave (where would I go ?) All is well. Just keep taking the HRT and hope there isn’t a shortage. Andrew went to the office to get his laptop and anything else he needed and then braved it to Lidl and Sainsbury on his way back. They were well stocked and there was me going into a massive panic because we were running out of kitchen towel.
So far we haven’t experienced the mass hysteria of panic buying. I can’t imagine battling it out for a pack of loo roll. I’m learning to be more economical with that! Although sometimes I forget and then feel terribly guilty that I used an extra sheet.
The days are passing much quicker than I thought they would. Although, it has only been three. In fact, we seem to be getting nothing done.
I checked our toilet roll stash if you can call it a stash, compared to what some have. Where are they storing it is what I want to know?
Anyway, we’ll be all right for a while. I thought of buying serviettes, but the panic buyers were quicker. No flies on them. None to be had.
Everyone is very polite in our local Coop. If you accidentally bash them with your trolley they almost apologise for being in your way. All very civilised. No fighting over food. Of course, I imagine if you coughed anywhere near them, then they may well bash you to the death with their cucumber.
Andrew had a bit of a wobbly when he realised he couldn’t get to Homebase. I said, get it online. The problem is he wants the stuff like yesterday and can’t really wait until 2021.
Will this ever end? We’ve only been in lockdown for a short time and it feels like forever.
Lockdown Day 3 or is it 4 (I’m already getting confused)
Living in a Cotswold village during a virus outbreak is a blessing. Everyone helping everyone else with prescription collection and sharing their shopping delivery slots. We ventured to the Coop again. Not a million miles away. Odd to see the usual pharmacy queue at the doctors surgery now out into the street and halfway through the village, while people stay 6 feet from each other. I remember when they would squash right up to you to get you to move down the queue faster. How times quickly change.
The Coop shop was strange. People entering behind us and then stopping when we did. Always staying 6 feet behind. I felt stressed like I was holding them up while I looked at the grapes. The store was well stocked which was a relief to see. I spent most of the time in there dancing with people so we could shop at a reasonable distance. Had a few near misses but overall all very dignified. Odd to see the staff putting out stock with gloves on and people covering their faces with scarfs as I passed them. It was like being in a leprosy colony. Who’d ever have imagined it? We left the Coop and headed home passing the local garage as we did so. I saw all the pumps were ‘not in use’ apart from one.
‘Uh oh,’ I said.
So Andrew filled up. I couldn’t cope with queuing for petrol next.
I thought I’d look on the Boots pharmacy website for some of the things I couldn’t get in the supermarket. There was a six-hour virtual queue! Six hours! By the time I got to the front they’d be nothing left. I aborted the mission. I will try again tomorrow.
Day 5 (I believe it was actually Day 4 Yesterday)
Andrew is painting everything in sight. It’s his new hobby. Portraiture is his favourite. He hasn’t asked me to pose nude for him yet. I don’t know why. I imagined I would be his favourite subject. He seems more interested in painting the cat. I’m hoping he’ll start on the kitchen walls but he reminds me there is nowhere to buy paint and anyway it’s not that kind of painting.
I’ve been writing and procrastinating and then more procrastinating. My friend dropped in some Hazelnut milk for me. She and her husband stood at the front of my gate. Then my other neighbour came along and stopped six feet from them and then Andrew joined me. I then panicked because there were now five of us and that constitutes a gathering, doesn’t it? We could have had a barbeque. Meanwhile, someone’s chimney caught fire and suddenly there were fire engines everywhere. It was becoming quite a large gathering, albeit six feet apart from each other. We were responsible though and all went back inside our houses and continued our lockdown.
Day 6 (surely it’s day 9 or 10, or perhaps it just feels like it.)
Instagram is full of celebrities sharing their fears, recipes, or thoughts. Make up free, hair a mess. We’re going to view these celebs in a whole other light after this. Perhaps the new craze will be reveal yourself as you are, warts and all. They’re giving us an inside look into their lives. Showing us that they are the same as us, albeit a little bit richer and a little bit more famous and just a touch more influential. Of course, most of us knew that. Anyway, back to more serious things. I fell over. This is serious because Andrew, who was in the summer house, chatting to his brother, never heard me fall or the crash of the jug I dropped. I did wait for him to come hurrying out but to no avail. Eventually, I dragged myself up and into the house. I sprained my ankle and grazed my knee. It’s not the time to go to the x-ray walk-in department is it? Still it could have been worse. It could have been my neck. There’s always a silver lining.
Day 7 and 8 of lockdown (they’re all merging into one another now. I’m still limping)
Foot is black and blue and three times its usual size. We’re trying to pretend all is well. It would be far bigger if it was broken wouldn’t it? We braved it to Lidl. Delighted to see from the car park there were no queues and then we turned the corner … Loads of people standing 2m apart with masks and gloves on.
‘Ah,’ I screeched. ‘I forgot gloves’
Andrew rolled his eyes and said nothing. I grasped the handle of the trolley with my coat sleeves and limped forward. Lidl was nicely stocked. I grabbed two plastic bags so I could distance my hands from the trolley and we were off. I tried not to get annoyed at those who didn’t observe the social distancing while Andrew kindly reminded me the place was full of germs anyway. He has this wonderful knack of cheering me up. I know I shouldn’t have but I did stockpile chocolate. I thought I’d make a chocolate cake. Whether I’ll get any further than just thinking about it, is anyone’s guess.
Not being able to go for walks is driving me a bit stir crazy. I dreamt about the virus again last night. In this one things had really progressed and we weren’t allowed to leave our bedroom! (sigh) I’m off to rest my poorly foot. More soon if you can bear it.
More soon … if you can bear it.