Monday, 22 June 2020

Virus Lockdown Birthday Blues.

It's t-shirt prison for you, young fella-me-lad
Birthday blues? Nah, not really. So okay, I might have missed out on sea and sun and sangria as my surprise holiday in Spain was cancelled, but on the bright side, I got this cool t-shirt. I liked it so much, I've put it in a frame. My actual party was a very small affair - about six of us, all spaced out in my sister-in-law's back garden. A couple of cans, few shots and an afternoon of baking sun. Didn't really need Spain at all. It was fun. Different, but still fun.

Sometimes it's important to focus on the good stuff and try not to get bogged down with the negatives. Now, more than ever, it's very easy to get wrapped up in the down side of things, and 24hr news coverage replaying the same stories, the same predictions and interviews doesn't help one bit. 

Around mid March, the news channels were reaching whole new levels of panic. China was in lockdown, so was Italy and Spain, while in the UK, we were going to pubs and restaurants and concerts. It was like we didn't care, and yet our news readers were pretty much hailing the end of the world. I'll openly admit that it started to get to me. I couldn't shake an underlying sense of panic. All I wanted to talk about was the latest news report. In the end, my wife pretty much ordered me to turn off the TV and find something practical to do.

So I decided to take out the downstairs toilet. Seemed like a good idea at the time, but just as the front porch was looking like a building site, I heard that all DIY shops were going to close the very next day. And today was Sunday. It was also after 3pm, which meant I had less than an hour.

Oh, hell. 

Car. Drive. Park. Run inside and buy up everything and anything that could be used to complete the job, including flooring and underlay, paint, filler, glue nails, cable and a new lampshade. I got to the checkout just as they were clearing the shop.

I spent the first week of lockdown trying to fix the mess I'd made. I also made the joyous discovery that the partition wall I'd taken a sledgehammer to was the only thing holding the front door up. 

But it did the trick. A few days away from the ceaseless doom and gloom on the news was just enough to give me a sense of perspective. It also made it easier to go back to work - our school was open for the children of Key Workers, so we were working rota shifts every few days. During the days I was at home, I manged to finish the DIY, then redecorated a bedroom and sorted out the front garden. I changed my reading habits (more on this in the next post) and redesigned my website, as well as plans for a new site and a YouTube writing channel that's been bouncing around in my head for months. I gave my work-in-progress a final copy edit and sent it out to agents (see Projects) and began planning something completely new (also in Projects). In short, I kept busy and managed to keep the news at arm's length.

Going back to work full time was pretty strange. Parents are understandably nervous to send their children back, but on the whole, most of the kids have adjusted very well. We have rules and guides in place to keep to our individual bubbles but most of all, we try to keep things upbeat for those who have chosen to come in - something that would be a bit tricky if the adults are plagued by paranoia and fear. Thankfully, my break from the TV worked for the long term. That sense of dread has never really returned and being back in school, even with just a handful of kids is pretty good. I do miss my regular class though. Hopefully, things are going to open up a little more before the summer break. 

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