Lockdown is almost over. It’s still just about November but, even so, it’s not too early to start the long wind-up for Christmas. We all need something to look forward to, right?
After all, we could be facing a long and lonely winter of ongoing restrictions, if not a third lockdown. So we might as well take our enjoyment wherever we can.
Wednesday 18th November
Before this all kicked off, I used to drop Isaac at the station at 7:10am every day before heading on to the office. The station car park would always be full as I drove past.
Since he started going back to school in September, I’ve been dropping him off at the same time and heading home to work. Over time, the station has gradually been getting busier again. Even so, the car park has been no more than 40% full.
Since the second lockdown started, the car park has been virtually empty; three or four cars at most. It’s a clear indication of how so many people’s working patterns have changed – or, at least, that’s the case for office workers.
I don’t miss commuting to the office at all, despite the reduction in face-to-face contact. Today is also exactly eight months since I started working at home. I’m still not bored of it.
Sunday 22nd November
We’ve eaten together as a family almost every evening this week, topped off with a roast today.
I’ve missed being able to regularly do a big family roast with my folks. We used to do it every two to three weeks but have managed only two meals together since late February. But having the five of us around the table most Sundays is the next best thing.
Roasts are my thing as well. I’ll squirrel myself away in the kitchen for a couple of hours. Kara will often come in and help chop up vegetables or make stuffing. Sometimes Toby will bake something for dessert. It’s fun. I like it.
Wednesday 25th November
Well, the government’s Spending Review painted a pretty grim picture. The largest fall in economic output in over three centuries. £394 billion worth of public sector borrowing. A forecast of 2.6 million people unemployed next year. And that’s with a base case scenario which assumes some form of Brexit deal and rolling out a successful vaccine by early next year.
Seriously though, was anyone really expecting anything different? None of the above is a surprise for anyone who has even the vaguest idea about how economics works. And, for all the carping from the government’s critics – of which I am one – the truth is that there was no real way to avoid digging a deep hole. But to hear it in such stark terms is still a shock to the system, not least because this was delivered without Chancellor Rishi Sunak even broaching the additional impacts of a no-deal Brexit.
This should be a wake-up call to those who still optimistically believe the UK will bounce right back next year and that a no-deal Brexit will have no lasting consequences. That isn’t going to happen.
I’m no macroeconomics expert. But I know enough. And it worries me that, as bleak as the outlook is, there is far more potential downside than the government is willing to let on. If we think things are bad now, then January through to March could well be a whole lot worse. It’s time to face up to the facts.
Thursday 26th November
The goalposts didn’t move. But the regional tier system did. Something about last drinks orders at pubs and restaurants moving to 10pm and extending closing time to 11pm. And some other tweaks to the previous rules.
I’m not sure any more exactly what the rules are. I’m pretty sure most people don’t really care any more, or don’t trust the government enough to listen.
The bottom line is that many people will exit lockdown facing tougher restrictions compared with before we entered lockdown. And that it’s likely to remain this way until next spring.
I’m not sure much will really change for us. Without shielding ourselves completely, we’ll continue to take as many precautions as we can and do more than the bare minimum the rules dictate we must. I don’t trust this government’s messaging or motivation at all, so I’ll just apply my own, more-conservative-than-most sense of what feels right, thanks. It means making sacrifices – I’m pretty much resigned to spending Christmas apart from the kids’ grandparents – but it’s what feels right to us.
Saturday 28th November
Even more so than normal, TV has become our comfort blanket this autumn. Family favourites such as Strictly, Bake Off and I’m A Celebrity have provided a welcome and much-needed distraction from the real world. And the kids have discovered a passion for quiz shows such as Richard Osman’s House of Games and Only Connect.
You’ll often find us curled up together on the sofa of an evening watching one of these. Sometimes we’ll all watch; sometimes the kids may combine this with other screen time. But it is something that keeps us from all disappearing our separate ways straight after dinner.
Saturday night is Zoom quiz night too, with the occasional family quiz nights thrown in every now and then. All three kids love to create their own rounds and show off their knowledge and not inconsiderable Powerpoint skills. (Although this evening Isaac was off doing a birthday Zoom call with one of his oldest friends, while the rest of us pored over trivia questions.)
I doubt any of this would have happened without the restrictions that the initial lockdown forced upon us. I’m not complaining about this particular outcome at all. Small victories and all that.
No, it’s not too early
A week earlier than usual, the Christmas tree and decoration came down from the loft and were put up around the house today.
Yes, it’s early. But not too early. This year of all years, we could all do with a little extra seasonal cheer. And from the level of burbling happiness and excitement that has permeated the house all today, it was clearly something the kids needed too.
Sunday 29th November
Pre-kids, we used to have the Sunday paper delivered every week. Over the last four weeks, I’ve added a detour via the newsagent’s in town to my Sunday morning walk.
It feels positively luxurious. Sundays used to be the busiest of times. Now it’s a lazy family day spent doing odd jobs around the house, playing games, with often a roast and watching a film together in the evening. And, in between, with various combinations of kids off doing their own thing, there’s even the chance to sit down with a cup of tea and the crossword.
Time is a luxury. And we’re making the most of it.
Is life under lockdown pedestrian? Sometimes. But sometimes slow is good too.
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