We’re coming to the end of the third week of lockdown and so I thought I’d do another simple diary. As readers you will of course know what it’s like to go shopping at the moment but I’m recording it here for legacy purposes. I hope that soon we’ll be looking back with disbelief and I don’t want to forget how extraordinary this time was. So today do please add in the comments anything that’s struck you as you’ve tried to manage your ordinary life, however simple it is. You can help me to make this a living record from the perspective of midlife in the time of coronavirus.
Midlife in the time of coronavirus
Sunday 5th April
Mr MC bounces out of bed at the crack of dawn, raring to get back to his landing stage project. He’s like a child with the best ever Lego project and it’s consuming him night and day. I lie and think about the week ahead – well as much as I can because everything seems unforseeable. I should be packing for our Easter week in Mallorca but instead I come up with a week’s strict capsule wardrobe project not knowing if it will turn out to be a liberation or a curse.
The day is unseasonably warm. I’d usually settle down to read the papers but I find it hard to concentrate on anything at the moment and I flit from project to project – answering a few of the responses to Friday’s blog post that are coming in thick and fast, making yet another batch of flapjack because I haven’t been able to buy flour for three weeks now and taking a steady stream of snacks down to the crew at the bottom of the garden. The boys’ state of torpor is now such that they’re glad to have something physical to do.
I’ve chosen my clothes from my the capsule allowance that I’ve given myself, it’s definitely a day for loungewear as I’m spending quite a bit of time in my ‘supervisory’ spot, surveying the work in progress.
Monday 6th April
As part of the keeping calm and carrying on effort, I get up as usual and go the office where I bury myself in your comments. I’m glad I asked you how you’re feeling because it’s fascinating. There seems to be a top level need to function as normal that disguises a simmering worry and it shows that coronavirus leaves no area of our life untouched. I feel reassured by the fact that everyone seems to be going through the same feeling of formlessness, we’re lacking a fulcrum and need a point of certainty.
I break off to have an online chat with my closest buddy. She’d messaged me on Saturday feeling full of the joys of being at home with weeks of furlough ahead… just as I was sitting with my head in my hands feeling distinctly unfurloughed and untethered. I’m feeling guilty because I know my reply was a bit terse and it’s been niggling away at the back of my mind ever since. She sounds a bit surprised – she hadn’t picked up on my tone and understands my simmering worries. So that’s ok then.
Mr MC and I break off for a lunchtime workout at our gym which is now of course online. We’re both hoping the boys don’t look out as we do our three minute running duck walks up and down the garden… we’re only too aware that it would make irresistible content for Snapchat.
I spend the rest of the afternoon in the office and finish the day with a long walk with Ted. I pass some business associates who are chatting to people we know across the canal and I join in at a distance. We all run small companies and we rub virtual crystal balls, trying to predict how things will pan out.
Tuesday 7th April
I’m not at my desk until 10.30am – we’re slipping into a late to bed and late to rise routine which doesn’t feel good and I vow to adjust it from now on. I try to write my blog post but am constantly interrupted by boys coming in asking about food. They’ve regressed to chicks in the nest status with beaks that are constantly open. Their excuse of course is that I’m ruling supplies with an iron fist so they daren’t cook for themselves. We’re trying to stick to one supermarket delivery a week with top-ups from the village shop but stock there is very hit and miss so everything in the kitchen is carefully allocated.
After work I go out for a run with the eldest. He ended the rugby season with a nasty back injury and is now trying to get moving again slowly which suits me just fine. He does too much too soon and I end up leaving him behind in a cloud of dust which is something that hasn’t happened before and doesn’t make him feel any better. He’s in such a lot of discomfort that I’d usually book him in to see my osteopath but of course there’s no chance of that so he’s going to have to keep on stretching and remembering how lucky he is that I’ve allocated him his own bag of frozen peas!
Wednesday 8th April
We’re back to our early rising and a shopping list comes in from the housing for the elderly across the road so I need to crack on and deal with it. I can’t get what they need in the village or even our nearest market town so there’s nothing for it but to drive into Lancaster. I feel strangely nervous about going in on my own and so WhatsApp the boys with a request for a companion. The middle one is down the stairs the fastest and so we head off together; the roads are so deserted that it really does feel like an expedition.
If I had to choose, I would say that Lancaster is my favourite city in the whole world. I was born there and went to school there so although it isn’t where we live, it feels like my home town. But it’s more than that, it’s a city that thrums with ages past – the Romans, the Plantagenets, the Tudors, the Georgians and of course the poor old Lancashire witches not only live on in the architecture but they’re there in spirit too, I swear you can feel them. Today they have the city to themselves, the streets are almost empty.
Our first stop is Boots and we line up outside, carefully spaced away from others as they’re only allowing four in at a time. The queue is very seriously manned by people wearing full plastic visors and overalls. When we make it through the doors it’s a surprise to see the luxury beauty counters wrapped from floor to ceiling in black plastic and tape. Before starting on the shopping list I’ve been given, I segue past the Josh Wood Shade Shot glosses and am ridiculously thrilled when there’s one left in my shade. We work our way through the list and I feel proud of my boy when he doesn’t grumble as I load him up with packs of Tena pads in different sizes. As we check out I do wonder what it’s going to do to the algorithm on my Boots Advantage card though.
We head back to the car and spot that the queue for M&S isn’t too bad so we unload and head back to do a food shop for the Easter weekend. The staff there are very jolly, wiping trolleys with disinfectant before handing them over and asking us nicely to shop as quickly as we can. Again only four people are allowed in at a time and it feels like a strange game of trolley dash. I don’t have a list so I quickly pick up what I think might make the weekend special while trying to avoid aisles with anyone else in them. We leave having somehow spent £90 on little more than Easter eggs, cakes, luxury dips, garden bulbs and hanging baskets… only in M&S!
Home for a workout with Mr MC and sadly I can feel my new muscle gain deteriorating because we just don’t have weights at home to match the levels I’d reached in the gym. The afternoon news bulletin records the highest day of deaths so far, 938, which sets us ahead of the worst daily tolls reached by Italy and Spain. There’s an early outline of how the return to normal could look and the date for restaurants and bars to reopen is on 18th May… good news for anyone with a birthday on 19th May this year then (which just happens to be me!). Of course this is spurious date setting and not to be taken as a concrete plan.
Spot the mad photo bomber in the picture below.
Thursday 9th April
Thank goodness for Josh Wood. I’m utterly grateful that the local hairdresser managed to fit me in on the Friday before lockdown started but the greys aren’t interwoven with the blondes quite as subtly as usual and so my regrowth is starting to show. It’s quite incredible how the Shade Shots manage to blend it all in again, I’ll have to use them every week now but it’s worth it (and this isn’t sponsored, it’s just great stuff).
I spend the morning at my desk dealing with a few emails, catching up on comments and starting to write this post. I’ve been resisting the requests from the local tourist board asking me to remind visitors that they’re not welcome up here because the Lake District is closed. My view is that you, my readers, are intelligent enough not to come. However tourists are still arriving so I’m now doing my bit. The thing is that it really isn’t worth anyone coming because people are recognisably not local. Shops refuse to serve anybody they don’t know and will remember those who come to their second home – life will always be unpleasant for them here if they don’t stick to the plan now.
Thinking about shopkeepers I ring the village butcher to place an order for the next few days and he apologises for not being able to allocate me quite what I need. Even though he knows I have the boys at home to feed he’s now having to ration everybody. I wonder whether they’ll will notice if I chop the sausages up for tonight’s sausage casserole so that there seem to be more than there are. (They do.)
After another run with the eldest who suffers again we spend the evening in the garden. I do some weeding while the boys and Mr MC work down on the deck. Hearing them all together I suddenly realise that we’ve managed to recapture the days of having the whole family happily together out here that we had when they were little. They’re days that I didn’t think would come again. I think about how much we invest in holidays so that we can spend our time pretty much as we are now, doing our own thing during the day and then coming together in the evenings to eat, perhaps with a glass or two of wine and some games. And yet here we have it just at home and it feels good. There are some things that I want to thank coronavirus for.
At 8pm the clap for carers ripples through the village with people bashing pans and honking horns and it feels good to be part of something collective.
Friday 10th April
I’ve been at my desk for an hour before I remember that it’s Good Friday and a Bank Holiday. The urge for routine still wakes me in the morning and a holiday doesn’t have quite the same shine as it usually would. However I’m going to stop now and I think I’ll take a week off. There’s still no sign of any government support coming in for small limited companies so given that we’ll be eating into our savings, I may as well take a holiday.
I can see Mr MC through my office window. He’s emptied the cellar of his (vast) tool collection and spread it all over the lawn. His plan is to dedicate his day to creating the ultimate workshop down there and part of that involves categorising said tools. They say that on the whole men are dealing with social isolation better than women and he looks utterly content… although I think he could do without the ‘help’ that Ted is determined to give him.
We should be flying to Mallorca tomorrow morning but instead I’ve planned a fiesta at home. I might post it on Instagram but if not I’ll take some photos and give you a flavour of it when I’m back. We’re going to treat Easter Sunday like Christmas Day with a special lunch and then an afternoon of games – oh and the Easter Bunny is apparently a key worker and so he should make an appearance too. As for the rest of the week, it strikes me that we’re all going to be talking about our Coronavirus days for the rest of our lives so I’m trying to think what I’d like to be able to say about mine and put it into action.
As I did last night, I’m going to relish having the boys here because I know that as soon as this is over they’ll be off like champagne corks popping out of their bottles. So I’m going to spend the time with them that I’d looked forward to having in Mallorca – and if the sun keeps shining as it has it won’t be too dissimilar. We can still look out across the sea although not from the rooftop hot tub that I was looking forward to… a new project for Mr MC perhaps?!
As for the capsule wardrobe experiment, I love the simple fundamentals but it’s shown me how much I rely on things we’re not wearing at the moment such as blazers, shoes and bags to bring outfits like this to life. I’m going to rethink my isolation wardrobe for next week and add a little glamour.
I’ll either be back next Friday or the following Tuesday. Until then enjoy your Easter weekend and just do it your way. Don’t feel pressured by all of the people who claim to be living their best Coronavirus lives – you already know that it’s probably smoke and mirrors. Thank you as always for reading and keeping me (and each other) company during this time. Don’t forget you can always keep the conversations going in the comments, even if I’ve logged off for a while and please do include your everyday observations of how life’s changed.
Disclosure: ‘Midlife in the time of coronavirus’ is not a sponsored post
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