It’s Thursday. In life before lockdown, it was just another evening. Maybe a game, maybe some cleaning, maybe catching up with the box. But for the past seventeen weeks, ever since the coronavirus forced us all to stay in to safe safe, Thursday has become ‘Theatre Night’! Drinks and snacks and rushing to get seated in time… and all from the comfort of our sofa! But not tonight, the wonderful free ‘National Theatre At Home’ shows have ended. Just one of the many things I’ll miss from life in lockdown.
The first few weeks of lockdown were odd. Bizarre, strange, surreal. Phil and I would regularly look at each other and exclaim “Can you believe this is happening?”. But after the initial shock and worry had subsided, we quickly established a new way to live. A new life in lockdown. It helped that Phil was still working, albeit from our study. So every weekday we still woke at the same time, slept at the same time, did our own tasks and jobs as before. By retaining some normality; it eased the anxiety, kept us busy, allowed us one less thing to think about. But there were inevitably new daily rituals established. Elevensies and afternoon tea are now firm fixtures. The Government Daily Briefing was never missed (I’ve become an armchair political journalist! 😛 )! At six on the dot, we’d speak to Phil’s Mum who was isolating alone. And each evening, we’d fill in our family corona diary together. Yes, we found our inner Samuel Pepys… I can tell you exactly what we did on each day of the pandemic! 😛
We also had new weekly routines. Thursday was not only ‘Theatre night’ but ‘Clapping for Carers’. For those precious ten minutes, there was life once again in our little cul-de-sac. Waving, chatting, checking up… and applauding the selfless heroes. For a while, Friday meant games night and drinking and laughing with my family. Mondays and Wednesdays are still quiz nights with our university friends or Phil’s clan. And Sunday mornings were spent talking superheros and Frozen with the littlest nephew and niece. To differentiate it from the monotony of the working week, we ensured weekends were always reserved for fun, and doing something completely different. But as we couldn’t venture out, this meant a new hobby, a new project, a new recipe, or (later) a new place to scoot and explore. Having a structure and routine, with different events on different days, meant the future was no longer one long daunting space to be filled. It helped separate each day, allowed us to see the passing of time, and gave us something to always look forward to!
Lockdown meant I no longer needed to reserve energy for big meet ups or weekends away, so I suddenly had a little extra time for me. Since getting ill, my hobbies have taken a back seat, as energy coins are saved for seeing folk. But suddenly I could spend longer doing, or rediscovering, things I love. Wonderful! 🙂 Gardening my allotment was the chief beneficiary. I’ve never weeded or potted on quite so often! And at long last, I’ve had time to try out recipes and work through my cookbooks. We’ve spent hours staring at the stars and planets, I took up meditating again, and I even got my sewing machine out! I’ve read books on my bookshelf, rediscovered the keyboard, and had the best fun on my off-road scooter. There’s been so many BBQs, so much blogging and so many soardough loaves. And there’s been plenty of croquet and photobooks and even some jigsaws! As well as fun, Phil pulled up ten trees so we can overhaul the back garden. He built shelves and we reorganized the garage. And we’ve almost finished completely refurbishing the Bumblebee! I’ve loved loved loved the extra time!
One of the most interesting aspects of lockdown, were the inventive activities that only happened because of it. With no horse racing allowed, we placed bets on the ‘Virtual Grand National’; and cheered on computer generated thoroughbreds. We watched our favourite cyclists battling it out on their home turbo trainers; cleverly shown as a race on Zwift. Phil exercised by running up and down the stairs, we watched a LIVE theatre show through Zoom with socially-distanced actors, and we dared to cut each others hair! We’ve spoken to some friends and family more in the last few months than in the last ten years. We still got excited at all the prime-time replays of old cricket and football matches, even though we knew the score! And the nephews regularly sent us beautifully illustrated, hand written letters. We shall treasure them. None of that would have happened if we hadn’t been in lockdown.
With little in the calendar, and bad news in the papers, we didn’t need much of an excuse to celebrate. Events that would have passed quietly before, were now eagerly anticipated. We painted eggs at Easter and cooked an elaborate feast. We decorated our house on VE day and had a tea party in our garden alongside the neighbours. And on Lottie’s 12th birthday, we gave her a butchers steak for tea and went on a seven mile scooter adventure.
But now it is all beginning to change back. Lockdown is easing, rules are loosening, and shielding is paused. The matches are now live, the clapping has stopped and Phil can bike outside again. Society is slowly starting its return to normality, or rather starting a new normality. And although there were many times in lockdown when I was filled with anxiety and a desperation for it all to be ending. Now that it is, now that we’re able to experience freedom and some of our old lives again… I already kinda miss some of it. It has been a crazy and stressful and scary and worrying six months, but there have also been many many joyful moments. Many silver linings. They made the lockdown more bearable. Happier.
I really hope that if I’m shielding again come Autumn, the National Theatre will once again re-instate Theatre Night. I rather loved watching the curtains opening each week… whilst wearing my PJS!