May 1

Another best friend’s birthday and we catch up via screen across time-zones.

 Isolation birthdays whizz by, calendar highlights ripped from time’s ledger.

 I return to my desk till 5pm, only popping out to make kids’ lunches, vacuum, do washing, empty dishwasher and tackle disturbing stains on the bathroom floor.

Evening: Gogglebox and sofa beckon.

May 2

 Why do Saturday mornings always end in bickering? The walls are closing in but the sun is shining on the tulips. 

Finally, I get around to a bit of eyebrow grooming for the first time in weeks. It’s all gone to pot. We play a family game of Psych! I wonder if Ellen DeGeneres has any idea how viciously it can be played. When in doubt, ‘gay porn’ is the all-purpose answer.

May 3

Sunday, grey skies in lockdown. Over it.

Beasties Boys Story and Haribo on the sofa. Go for a drive to get something ‘essential’ and witness the area around Regents Park swarming with cyclists. We spy one of them actually being arrested for being on his phone. 

It feels weird to be out.

May 6

Coming out of a 2-day slump. 

Jaw dropping news today. Professor Neil Ferguson, (aka Professor Lockdown) the scientist who advised the government throughout this pandemic crisis, resigns for breaking the rules of lockdown. (Visiting his married lover? Crickey! These scientists, eh?)

Trump orders Americans back to work despite rising death tolls.

May 7

Today marks the biggest contraction of the Bank of England in 300 years. Not since the South Sea Bubble burst and the British were read the Riot Act have things been so fricked up.

A full Flower Moon in our skies tonight along with murmurs of an impending relaxation of lockdown regulations- a possible farewell to the familiar refrain ‘Stay At Home, Protect The NHS, Save Lives’ will be replaced by…what?

Quentin Blakes’s Guernica is unveiled by a robot.

Bike sales are up 200% and cycle activists want safety on roads!

May 11

Just wrapped up VE Day long weekend which had, for the most part, summer-like weather; if you squinted you could just about pretend you were on holiday while still in the confines of your yard. An arctic wind swept in on Sunday afternoon, heralding Boris’s new phase of Corona Unlocking. These incremental changes will benefit our teenagers, especially the unlimited access to parks and sunshine. Oh, and we are FINALLY allowed our cleaner! After a two-month absence I’ll be ready to kiss the ground on which he walks (substantial amounts of ground as it turns out, in the spirit of germ avoidance he is walking the many, many kilometres to get to ours).

May 12

Much confusion about the Unlocking. Go to work but don’t go to work. Work if you must, but stay at home. 

We’re emerging from a tunnel, beginning to hear about the first reversals of cancellations. For example, Ryan Air will fly from July with full schedule. But how? Business is desperate for the economy to be exhumed.

May 13

So, my Dad sent me a really spooky article about Covid-induced anosmia. Apparently, the virus fricks up something IN YOUR BRAIN, not just in your nose and throat. I’m now convinced that the ‘senses department’ inside my grey matter has been thoroughly violated and decommissioned by the Bat Virus. My hands do feel funny, now I think about it, I have a headache that comes and goes and really annoyingly can’t taste coffee.  Also, I can’t see too well, but my hearing is supersonic! That right there is a Covid Joke, folks.

May 14

I’d say the cosy glow of family meal times can sometimes belie the pressure cooker beneath. Edie is contending with Year 12 exam results and the whole situation is fraught. Imagine the challenge for students needing to create exam conditions at home that will allow maximum results. Also, they need to type fast.

The country is in a dither with the Government’s mixed messages. Go to work, stay at home, stay alert, don’t use public transport, go to work though, but only if you can’t work from home, wash your hands, stay two metres apart, meet a friend in the park, but only one at a time, stay at home, take all the exercise you want but don’t see you family members at home. HUH?

The trains are apparently packed again despite the message not to use public transport.

I find watching a live owl cam can take my mind off it all.

Last night’s thirty millionth vegetable chilli and brown rice was met with dismay. 

“KFC is OPEN again”, raged one.

“I just can’t eat this”, said another.

“But I used what was in the fridge and it took me a long time to chop”, I said, though couldn’t really be arsed to be outraged.

I’ve sort of got this non-stop headache going and it’s freaking me out, the thought that somehow Corona is lodged in my hippocampus. Also, I’m convinced my finger’s broken from a backyard basketball moment gone wrong, but I’m too scared to get an x-ray. I wake up in the middle of the night and listen to the foxes screaming. Sometimes I feel as old as the trees.

In some non-hypochondria related news, the UK is formally in a recession.

We moved here in 2016, three months after we arrived there was Brexit, then endless Brexit negotiations, now a pandemic. Strange way to get to know a place.

May 16

I overhear groups of runners discussing ‘Corona Corridors’ that may or may not open up in time for summer holidays. “Greece? Italy?- puff puff- France maybe? ”

This morning we spotted time travellers on the Heath. They were drinking beers, singing peace anthems and holding hands while wearing floral and coke-bottle glasses and all at 8.30am. Tree worshipping rituals were also observed. None of it surprises somehow in these odd times of ours.

I return home and make them a lemon and polenta cake. The verdict:

“Difficult and dry,” said one.

“It has a rind. It is like sand,” said another.

“I’m just not eating that,” said a third.

“The aftertaste is ok, I guess,” was the  canny comment from one who knew AFTERTASTE is no joke.

We play Psych! again. It should be called Roast! as the family dish out the worst, the crudest, foulest, most politically-incorrect insults at each other and then fall about in hysterics.

Murder hornets are the US newest plague, Boris keeps on with his boo-boos. There are seemingly no boundaries at home. I hit up Amazon for a Do Not Disturb sign to hang on my door knob.

May 18

Researchers suggest that with the easing of the crisis, mental health problems will emerge, especially among the front-line hospital workers who have had scarce time to metabolise the horrors.

In other news, while Italy cautiously reopens boutiques and life goes back to normal, the blooms at the Chelsea Flower Show should not expect to be sniffed by human noses. 

The UK is shaping up to have one of the highest death tolls and everyone is searching for answers. 

May 19

Trump has turned drug pusher, spruiking Hydroxychloroquine like a giant bozo.

Unemployment rates are out of control here, I feel bad for all the creatives, they say that smaller theatre companies, along with so many other businesses, may be wiped out altogether.

Everyone wants to know if it’s going to be possible to have a summer holiday in Europe. The Greeks are like, get your togs on and head over get over, in a peculiarly cavalier manner. Can you picture the queues at Heathrow?

May 21

There’s definitely a feeling of release in the air. People are posting lush holiday destination pics, suggesting the perfect floral dresses for an impending escape. Maybe the new normal is a bit more normal than people thought it would be?

I’ve been stuck in a kid’s bedroom being an exam invigilator while it’s a balmy 28 degrees outside.  There’s a woodpecker, with baby woodpeckers, in the tree outside Jack’s window! 

He’s on his final exam as I write this, and there is a palpable sense running through my veins at least, that the British school year is coming to an end. No one, however, is jetting off anywhere …yet! Sneeze guards between beach chairs anyone? Walking on the Heath is best done at 6 a.m. as hordes descend in the afternoon and it really feels impossible to social distance. Immunity tests have recently been made available and I’m investing.

 The debate over a school return date nags on. Is June too soon?

Today my Ocado delivery driver ironically smashed hand sanitizer over a quarter of my grocery items. Would YOU eat pasta doused in hand sanitizer? 

By the way:

Stay Alert. Control The Virus. Save Lives is the government’s replacement motto and it’s really annoying and not catchy at all. Various parodies floating about online make me laugh, ‘Stay Lucky’ and ‘Careful How You Go’ among them.

May 25

Made a pavlova and went for a long walk to the Queen Mary Garden where I stopped and smelt the roses.

Jack and I try to come up with pandemic jokes along the way. “A chicken, a bat and a rat walk into a bar…”

May 26

Dominic Cummings is in a shit storm as he’s been busted for breaching (his own) government regulations by going out while the rest of us obediently stayed at home.  He and his wife had corona virus symptoms at the time, but his excuse was that because he couldn’t see very well he decided to go to a beauty spot TO CHECK IF HE COULD SEE WELL ENOUGH TO DRIVE. It’s all like an hilarious Little Britain sketch, except it’s not funny because of all the really annoyed people still at home who actually stuck to the guidelines. 

May 26

According to BBC journalist extraordinaire Laura Kuenssberg, many British people are ‘very cross’ with Dominic Cummings. Others are baying for blood. Why different rules for the elite? It all feels a bit Animal Farm right now, with some more equal than others. Dominic Cummings, seemingly doesn’t give a f@£% so what can you do? Plus, Boris is undyingly loyal to him.

May 27

According to a journalist who took part in the Oxford University vaccine trials, some of the inoculated monkeys are not doing so well. Imagine if they inoculated bats instead and one escaped, full of turbo charged coronavirus. These are some of the fantasies that possess me as I lie awake at 3 a.m.

 In desperation, I’ve decided to Boss Up And Change My Life (thank you Lizzo). I now have a zealous exercise regime and my very own bespoke End Of Lockdown playlist. Only upbeat songs allowed. Do let me know if you’d like to share. 

May 28

Our immunity tests arrived by post a few days ago but after reading the instructions regarding finger ‘milking’ it’s taken me some time to muster the courage to draw blood and have at it. There are 14 steps in all, which I read carefully. Often with precise procedures such as this, I’ll leap in, then hit a snag, realising too late that if I’d really concentrated I’d have seen that Step 4 indicated DO NOT do such and such a thing, that thing I’ve just gone and done. So, after careful scrutiny of the instructions regarding pre and post swabbing, where to position the lancet, whether to be standing up or sitting down, how to most effectively milk your finger into the vial after carefully wiping away the first drop of blood, I take the plunge. 

The first lancet draws blood but the blood won’t drip into the tiny vial as instructed, it seems to gather in a tiny impenetrable pool at the top and there’s a layer of … air? ectoplasm? preventing its journey downward. I curse, pumping my hand. The blood stops dripping into the vial though somehow my hand and desk are spattered. Strike two, the second lancet pierces my finger and I start squeezing again, but the same thing happens. Is my blood too cold? Feeling desperation now, I note that if they were collecting droplets of sweat from my forehead I’d have no problem at all. I wring out as much blood as I can to hit the high mark on the tiny container when doorbell rings. 

“Hello, Amazon?” I say, trying not to smear blood on the intercom. They must be delivering my Do Not Disturb sign. “Can you just leave the package?”

The leaflet is emphatic, you must fill the vial to the tippy top. With one lancet left I plough on. Down to my last lancet. Isn’t that an old Norse saying? It will be soon if these immunity home testing kits become de rigueur.  My finger tip is actually bruised, but I force the third lancet in and recommence squeezing as though England’s future depended on it, cursing and perspiring, blood splashing over the edge of the vial and onto the ready-stamped return envelope. Still just under the requisite amount, with a throbbing hand, I bag it up and vow never to indulge in ‘finger-milking’ again no matter how shiny the immunity idol.

The workaholic emerges from his office after wrapping up his seventeenth consecutive Zoom meeting of the day then casually completes his blood collection process without a single hiccup.

 Maybe he’s just hot blooded.

Anyway, I hope the test results come back with a prize or at the very least, permission to travel. Summer’s nearly here and I could do with a holiday.