Life under lockdown (again): 200 days later

Two more weeks have passed and it looks like we have a long and difficult winter ahead, as coronavirus cases continue to rise unabated. It’s now over 200 days since the UK was initially placed into a national lockdown and, despite the government’s reassurances, the odds of a second one are growing shorter by the day.

Buckle up, folks. We’ve been down this road before and it looks like we may do so again.

Monday 5th October

There’s been no one big trigger, but I’m a bit all over the place at the moment in terms of my general health and fitness. I’m still walking lots, but doing virtually no high-intensity exercise. I’ll eat well for two days and then have a day where I’ll inhale half the contents of my snack drawer.

Consequently, my weight and blood glucose have both started to creep up slightly. Nothing too drastic yet: I’ve gained about five pounds since late July and my sugar levels are slightly higher than ideal.

I think we’re all having similar problems. (Except for Kara, who on top of her martial arts, gym and cheer sessions does additional training at home just for fun.) And with winter approaching, it’s going to be harder for me to do as much walking outdoors. So we’ve taken the plunge and ordered a treadmill. Hey, why not?

Wednesday 7th October

I was listening to an interview with a visually impaired lady today, talking about how difficult the pandemic has made her life. It’s difficult for her to assess space in three dimensions, which makes maintaining social distancing challenging. She struggles to read the temporary floor markings that govern one-way systems in shops, which has led her to being abused by fellow customers.

I have to admit, I hadn’t really thought through how much the many changes we have had to adopt as part of the pandemic would affect some people. In the same way that there is an element of ‘out of sight, out of mind’ about people who continue to shield themselves or family members, it’s far too easy for those of us who have resumed some semblance of normal lives to forget those who remain disproportionately affected.

It throws people’s complaints about having to vacate pubs and restaurants by 10pm into sharp relief, doesn’t it?

Friday 9th October

My dad’s 80 and has been waiting to have a significant but not urgent operation for the past two years. He’s a stoic type who doesn’t complain, but he’s suffered physically and mentally after a string of delays and cancellations.

He even got as far last month as taking a mandatory Covid test, self-isolating for four days and then checking in on the day of the procedure, only for it to be cancelled.

With Covid cases rising again, I started to fear it might not happen at all before hospitals starting cancelling all non-essential operations again. However, to everyone’s relief, he was quickly given a new date and finally underwent the procedure this afternoon. He’s being kept in overnight as a precaution, but all went smoothly and he should be home tomorrow. Hurrah.

The media and public tend to focus on Covid cases and deaths. But the ripple effect on other aspects of public health are easily overlooked – from cancer diagnoses and chemotherapy to non-essential ops and the impending winter peaks in hospital admissions. (And that’s before we factor in mental health impacts too.)

These are the forgotten stories that people never get to hear. But at least my dad’s has had a happy (if delayed) ending.

In completely unrelated news, I make today 200 days since lockdown was announced. You’ll forgive me for not breaking out the champagne in celebration.

Monday 12th October

So the government announced its new three-tier local lockdown plan today, which didn’t really introduce all that much that was new. Cue the inevitable ‘tiers of a clown’ headlines.

It’s notable that there is no contingency plan yet that includes the closure of schools, other than vague discussions about lengthening half-term to produce a two-week ‘circuit-breaker’, a move which would do little more than put a small speed-bump in Covid’s path to slow its growth.

On the one hand, I get it. Kids’ education has been disrupted enough already. Closing schools again would have a massive impact on childcare, people’s ability to work and further damage an economy which is already on its knees. We need to avoid premature panic.

But on the other hand, it also feels like denying the possibility is an act of desperation by pretending the worst-case scenario doesn’t exist. It’s a delicate balance. But, with dissatisfaction with even these relatively mild new measures widely evident, I can’t help but feel that a little more transparency might be what we really need.

Thursday 15th October

A friend posted a couple of photos from London’s Leicester Square, taken at 8am. Normally this is peak commuter time and it would be bustling with people. Not today, though. It was almost deserted, like a scene from a post-apocalyptic movie such as 28 Days Later.

However, masks aside, life in our little town feels almost normal again. I imagine it’s similar in other suburban or rural communities. But that clearly isn’t the case everywhere.

And our definition of ‘normal’ has subtly changed anyway. We’ve become numbed to the reporting of pandemic numbers. I’ve forgotten what it’s like to commute to work. Long weekend afternoons spent leisurely playing board games are now the norm rather than a cherished rarity.

It’s easy to kids ourselves that things are normal again. Hence a noticeable increase in social media chatter claiming that the pandemic is now over. But things aren’t normal at all, even if it appears that way in our own personal bubbles. Complacency is an insidious enemy.

Sunday 18th October

Having more family film nights was one of the positives of lockdown for us. And while we’re not doing this as often as we were now that the kids’ many activities have restarted, we’re still watching more than we were before.

It started with the Marvel films, which kept us going through the early months of lockdown. More recently, we’ve expanded our horizons further. Tonight we finished the Ocean’s trilogy with Ocean’s Thirteen, which segued nicely into introducing the kids to the old BBC series Hustle, which was inspired by the success of the original film. Heather and I loved this show. In fact, I’m pretty sure we were watching an episode of this when she went into labour with Isaac. So it feels a little like we have come full circle now that we’ve got the kids watching it too.

With Kara having now also discovered Buffy the Vampire Slayer – of course, our cheerleading martial artist identifies with Buffy! – the knock-on effects of the pandemic haven’t hurt in terms of opening a door for our kids into their parents’ world. And for us, it’s a gentle nostalgic throwback to our lives pre-kids. Given how this year has gone, a little reminiscing about the good old days is just what the doctor ordered.

Previous ‘Life under lockdown’ entries

Our ‘new normal’: March 15th-19th

And so it begins: March 20th-23rd

The shapeless monotony: March 24th-26th

A different life: March 27th-29th

Hanging in there: March 30th-April 5th

A marathon, not a sprint: April 6th-13th

So it begins again: April 14th-19th

Not what I expected: April 20th-26th

A never-ending hiatus?: April 27th-May 3rd

Months, not weeks: May 4th-10th

The long road back to ‘normal’ May 11th-17th

The end of the beginning: May 18th-24th

Time to take back control: May 25th-31st

Edging back to normal: June 1st-7th

Preparing for ‘the blip’: June 8th-14th

The middle of nowhere: June 15th-21st

The road back to normality: June 22nd-28th

Releasing the pause button: June 29th-July 12th

Ticking the boxes: July 13th-26th

Normal, and yet not normal: July 27th-August 9th

An uncertain future: August 10th-21st

Here we go again: September 22nd

The Covid Hokey Cokey: September 23rd-October 4th


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