Unprecedented Times Call for Unprecedented Measures…
Or, Remembering What It’s Like To Sit…
[[Disclaimer: I wrote this blog as an example for my students, to get them blogging and journaling their experiences of lockdown too! Just a bit of fun, or, important historical documents..???]]
It’s Saturday 25thApril. The sun is out, and it’s streaming through my kitchen blinds, lighting up my flat, and making me realise that the house could probably do with a good hoover. Why not, it’s not like there’s anything else to do. I’m coming to the end of my 6thweek of self-isolation and the country’s 5thweek of lockdown – and my house has never been so clean.
Most days, I struggle to sleep in after 7am, so, in a lame attempt to Seize The Day, like Tommy Wilhelm in SaulBellow’s excellent novella, I get up, make coffee, and sit and work for an hour or two whilst the sun’s warmth grows stronger on my face. At around 10am, I have that sinking feeling that there isn’t really any day to seize, so I eat breakfast with the news playing in the background – and start to feel better once the porridge has hit my stomach.
I am spending huge portions of my day sitting by the window and looking out. People watching has never been so in fashion. Everybody’s doing it.
Vice News recently described the Coronavirus Lockdown as an excuse for certain countries to ramp up their state-wide surveillance of citizens. Now we are seeing countries like Russia and China using facial recognition software in their street cameras – technology which derives a person of real freedom and autonomy. It all sounds very dystopian, and far away,doesn’t it.
But now, this week, the British Police have urged the public to “spy on their neighbours” so that police can “take action” where necessary. I must admit, I have been accidentally spying on my neighbours, who have two large dogs and no garden, and therefore leave the house at least three times a day. At first, it annoyed me when I saw them leaving for a third, or forth time, but, around week 3 of ‘lockdown’, I reminded myself of some excellent advice my Mum used to give: Mind Your Own Bloody Business.
Who am I to decide whether or not this third walk of theirs is truly necessary? What if they’re going to pick up medication? Or volunteer for the local council? Or what if their dog’s got an upset stomach and needs to relieve himself at the park? Who knows? Not me.
So, as I said, today is Saturday. Before the lockdown, Saturday mornings were normally spent at home anyway, so this is one portion of the day that hasn’t changed. I will have a properfry up(treating myself to sausages and bacon, because it’s the weekend and bacon belongs to the weekend) and then laze around, reading my current book – An American Marriage, by Tayari Jones. It’s an excellent read, leant to me by a friend. When she gave it to me she said “Barack Obama loved it – what else do you need to know?”.
For the rest of the day, I’ll probably go for my “one walk” to Jubilee Pond (of Wanstead Flats), which is a only a minute away, talk to some ducks, nod at some strangers, hold my breath when I can’t avoid being close to someone, think about how silly I am for holding my breath, and then come home, do some more work, avoiding – at all costs – looking out of my window and spying on my neighbours.