When I was at university, a ‘lock in’ was something to enjoy. In the 1980’s (prehistoric story coming up) Aberystwyth was still dry on a Sunday, so if you were invited to a ‘lock in’ at a hostelry before midnight on a Saturday, you were in for a very good weekend.
This week, lock down, lock in – whatever you want to call it – has taken some getting used to, and in the main, hasn’t exhibited the same party vibe of those university all nighters. As a chatty, sociable person who became an isolated ‘Billy no mates’ in my flat as music stopped during Boris’ impromptu game of musical chairs, I wish I had prepped myself earlier. I am not trained for this. I found myself sulking. A meme I saw on social media yesterday summed it up for me: Introverts: check in on your extrovert friends …they are not ok. They have no idea how this works.
Thank goodness for my brilliant friends and thank goodness for our ability to morph into a new rhythm and to learn new things about ourselves.
Once I got over the shock of not being surrounded by young people at school (see last week’s blog), I very slowly adapted to working from the flat, with the occasional get out of jail shift at school as we opened for the children of key workers.
Things I discovered about myself in this new working world were:
- I love manning reception (thank goodness the school has been quiet). My telephone voice is coming on nicely and so far I haven’t trapped any cars or students in the school’s electric gates.
- I am not a fan of the conference call and need to discover the art of finding my way into a 8-way discussion when I can’t see my colleagues’ faces. I have found that it helps if you don’t accidentally press mute on your phone at the start of the meeting.
- I love being around real people – colleagues/students – and find myself having to really, really remind myself to find social distance when I am allowed to meet them in the flesh.
- Virtual teaching is hard, but not as hard as home teaching apparently. (Let’s hear it for those teachers who are having to do both). I predict that there may be a second wave of public clapping in honour of teachers when schools eventually open again.
My biggest fear is that some numpties don’t take this ‘stay at home’ business seriously enough and we end up with a total lock down/in/up. My personal sanity is precariously built on banking my daily allowance of outside exercise, even if it pains me to do this on my own.
I have taken our official permission to exercise at face value and have Forrest Gumped myself through the week by finding isolated places to run – I am relieved that there has been no time limit set, but find myself running much faster than usual just in case we eventually head this way. I miss my running partners and miss the running chat, but burble away to myself in my head and occasionally find myself quite interesting.
I also take great satisfaction from the increased number of people now exercising outside (2 metres apart from each other, naturally). Boris may be coming in for some flack, but you can not fault his Couch to 5K Then Back to Your Couch national exercise programme. I know we are taking a battering economically at the moment and that the NHS are hanging in there by the elasticated waist of their last set of scrubs, but in the long run, this new mental health and exercise programme is pure genius. Tell people that they can’t exercise more than once a day outside their homes and suddenly everyone wants to get their heart rate up and soak up some fresh air . As long as we are still allowed outside, if a new habit takes 6 weeks to form, we can have this exercise malarkey nailed as a future thank you to the NHS.
After not being allowed to visit my 93 year old mother on Mother’s Day, I have taken such pleasure from getting her onto FaceTime. Game changer. I have always loved her insistence that she have an iPad even if she rarely uses it, but now I can actually see her on it every day – well, I say see her; often I am speaking to the ceiling or to her chest, but I get an occasional glimpse of her face as she spins the iPad round in the excitement of speaking after being isolated all day (She is still getting over the cancellation of that Ladies’ Luncheon).
In the same vein, FS and FD (Favourite Son and Daughter) introduce Mama J to the Houseparty app and once I have had a little blub about actually seeing their cherubic little faces (both locked down in other parts of the UK) they have me playing pictionary on line and demonstrate that ‘locking the room’ is a good thing on this app. Thanks to Houseparty, next week I have a virtual gin night booked in with my ladies (dubbed ‘Mixed Spirits’ on our WhatsApp chat) who, in the pre-Corona world would have regularly dined and supped with me (more sup than dine, in truth). It takes us most of the evening to get all four of us on the app at the same time, because I have become a bit trigger happy with ‘locking’ the room; it’s a bit like herding jelly but we will get there, with a lot of gin, no doubt.
I am also isolated away from FM (Favourite or Fortunate Man, depending on circumstances) because ironically he came out of a two week isolation just as Boris raised the ante, so even he, Mr Social Media Phob, has had to embrace the odd FaceTime experience (other video calls are available) just so that we will still be able to recognise each other if Boris ever unlocks the country again.
The final thing that has brought a big grin to my isolated face has been both my Be Military Fit and My Kind of Yoga classes going virtual. While I was still at school teaching (or pretending to man reception), my lovely My Kind of Yoga teachers had to face up to the closure of the yoga studio and decided to dive into a virtual Zoom studio instead. They took themselves right off their mats and taught themselves – and each other – a scary new set of skills over night. Now I need to dive in and join them…
Same too for Be Military Fit. There was I catastrophising that I wouldn’t be able to see my fellow BMF’ers twice a week, when courtesy of Facebook, our instructor appears in my living room and tells me to bear crawl and burpee off the sofa. Well, I say burpee, but clearly I have had to adapt his sessions because I live in a first floor flat – if I am to keep good relations with my neighbours during this lock down period, I will need to be more balletic in my approach to his military drill. Still, it is better than nothing. Apparently my on-line morning crew say that they are already much fitter because there is now no distraction from my incessant chatter. I am worried that when we switch to Zoom tomorrow ‘Sarg’ will notice that I am pretending to exercise in my Pj’s and that he may see that I am still chatting – albeit to myself.
Anyway, I will sign off. I am ‘allowed’ an essential trip to Sainsbury’s for a food shop and I am quite looking forward to it. They have introduced this game with squares marked up and down each aisle and customers can only move forward when the square in front is vacated. It is a bit like snakes and ladders, with the snake coming into play if anyone forgets to buy milk and wants to reverse. It is the closest I will get to real life interaction today and I am already quite excited. A win for me will be if they have enough gin in stock for me to be prepped for next week’s virtual gin party with the gals – I am anticipating a lock in.