Sunday, 10 May 2020

Learning from the lock down

I read a brutally honest and very sad post recently, it wasn't comfortable reading but basically the writer felt that since lock down she had discovered she didn't like herself very much. 
She had realised how much money she had squandered each week, I got the impression she didn't have a lot but still went out regularly for coffee and bought things she didn't need.  Now her income is reduced yet her spending is restricted so she is no worse off but surrounded by the 'stuff' she bought and doesn’t want that visibly demonstrates her waste.
She had also recognised how lazy she is, that this is the reason her house is never clean or tidy and that she really needs to start making a big effort to get up and do more.   
I think lock down has accentuated our bad habits and we are fearful they may get out of hand, that we will end up never getting dressed, snacking all day long, making no effort.  I hope this person will make improvements for her own sake, there is no reason not to and she will be a more content person.  If you are happy with your ways, slovenly as they may be, that's fine but if you don't love yourselves you probably imagine no one else can. 
It made me think about my own lock down experience which I am pleased has been OK so far with no meltdown or howling.  
At one time I could have identify with the wasteful spending.  In my latter years at work when the mortgage was paid and we were financially comfortable I used to tell myself I deserved little rewards, a magazine, extra toiletries, a treat with my household shopping.  I soon got rid of that way of thinking and since retirement I have seriously downsized and bought very little.  I'd be even happier if I could wear out some of my clothes and get to the capsule wardrobe stage.
I don't think I am that lazy though I am no ball of fire.   The penthouse is always clean, I like cleaning,  and fairly tidy, but I have learnt about time and that actually I do have plenty of it.  I do have time to put things away and to keep cupboards and wardrobes sorted.  I have time to complete a daily online language course, Italian naturally, and to dispose of a lot of unnecessary paperwork.  I have time to write at length to friends and family, by email or post.  Since I wasn't working before lock down I already had this time and I could have done more of these things long ago and regularly, I know that now.
I have surprised myself how well I have coped with lock down.  It helps that I am not that sociable, I really enjoy my own company and am happy to send Mr FF off on lone holidays now and then so I can have a week or two alone.    I welcome anyone into my home, I enjoy visiting people and trips out but I am not a great one for going to restaurants, cafes and bars, at least not in the UK, so I haven't missed any of that.  I much prefer small gatherings and hate large noisy events so I don't long for a night in the pub or a post pandemic party.
Mr FF on the other hand is my opposite, he will strike up a conversation with anyone and he has become very restless.  He misses having a couple of beers and a chat at the bowling club every week and his explorations on the local trains and buses.  He wants to be out and is not happy covering the same ground on his daily walks, although he has the expanse of the moors available from our doorstep he wants to discover new areas.  I don't share that ambition, I feel quite content within my confined little world, seeing how the landscape changes on my regular routes and I am patiently waiting until we can go back to Italy, which I accept may not be this year.   
I’ve felt no great despair about the pandemic, despite not being a particularly positive person it seems I am an accepting one.  I have obeyed the lock down rules, I am not desperate to know what happens next or when shops and services will return.  I am of course sad and worried by this awful event but it doesn’t ever overwhelm me.
I am sleeping really well, better than I have for years, which may be because of my regular exercise.  I decided to start walking again before the virus struck, mainly because things beyond my control were driving me mad and it was the best way to disperse my rage.  I fished out some old running gear and took off. I move my limbs vigorously, raise my heartbeat and get sweaty. I love it.  A neighbour who spotted me out said I looked very professional and I often get positive comments from people I pass, probably surprised to see a woman of 71 powering down the street in such a lather.  
I haven’t started over eating or taken to drink.  I put on weight easily and know how hard it is to get off again.   I have a glass of wine several nights each week but also have several nights without, no snacking and the emergency chocolate is still untouched.   I am even managing a bit of yoga. If we love the NHS as much as we say perhaps we have a duty to help out by keeping our bodies in good condition not just during lock down but always.
Let’s balance this out with a few less positive things, I am no a saint
I often find it difficult to concentrate and after the morning housework is done rarely settle down to anything.  I cannot seem to get into a good book but instead am reading simply to clear the shelves of books that have been there far too long, at least its a decent pile to recycle when I can.
All the exciting paperbacks I collected to take to Italy are untouched.  
I spend too long flitting around on the computer, sometimes putting items I won’t ever be buying in my shopping bag or watching annoying people on you tube.   I could use this time writing better posts and taking nicer photographs for you.   I follow the news too much but try not to get obsessive about it.
I am knitting the most stupid jumper that I will never wear.  
I’ve had the yarn for years, I think it was a gift, its a dreadful shade of apricot and turning out far too big, massive in fact, but I keep going.  I could be knitting socks or something that gives me pleasure and what the hell will I do with this jumper when it’s finished.
I am not dressing for dinner, or setting a beautiful table, wearing make up or any of that stuff, but I do get dressed every morning and light a candle every evening.  I’m not cooking new exciting recipes, the weekly shop is hard enough without sourcing special ingredients.
I hope the good things that I’ve learned lately will change me.  Life will be different, it already is, and we oldies could be the last to come out of lock down.  I’m not anxious about that, I’m fed and well, happy and as sane as I ever was.   I’m getting by just fine, I hope all of you too, that you are being kind to yourselves and reading better books and knitting better things than me.  


  1. I love the jumper and the shade (wouldn't do for us all to be the same I guess). I am working harder than ever (NHS) but still trying to walk when I can muster the energy as my hubby (self-employed so currently incomeless) is not working at present so needs the diversion. I used to be a fanatical organiser and obsessive cleaner then met my husband who is a collector of stuff (treasures) so had to become less so. The current crisis has made many people take a good look at themselves I feel. I am exhausted but proud to be doing the job I do. I feel grateful for where I live and the people I love. Stuff is just stuff but then it always has been as far as I'm concerned.

  2. Oh, I didn't need a lockdown situation to discover I'm a bone idle, time wasting, slatternly spendthrift. And, if you're not going to eat that chocolate, send it over.

  3. The capsule wardrobe: my ambition in life! Also you are not alone in revelling in having your home to yourself. Whilst I might not want to have been locked down alone, I do miss those occasions when Mr E would head off to Scotland for a sailing trip leaving me behind.