Remember that time Boris told us all to stay at home and promised everything would be back to normal in three weeks? Well, unbelievably, that was 12 months ago – and my word, haven’t things changed.
It feels weird to think of it now (it’s been incredible to experience in real time just how quickly humans can adapt to change; the ‘new normal’ already feels old) – but this time last year was straight up apocalyptic. Cast your minds back: have you forgotten what it was like?!
I was terrified to go outside lest the very air itself kill me. I was trapped alone in the house and cut off from family and friends, because ‘bubbles’ weren’t even a thing yet. The streets were silent and deserted, and the world had run out of sanitiser and face masks – and flour, and yeast, and pasta, and fruit, and veg, and pretty much everything else (except alcohol, thank God 🙏🏾).
Due to all the panic buying in the run-up to lockdown, my local Lidl looked like it had been burgled; I was out here scavenging in dusty off licences for Jacob’s crackers and baked beans to stay alive. The closest thing to a night out was clapping (and whooping and banging pots and pans like utter lunatics) for our carers on the doorstep on Thursdays at 8pm. And in the midst of it all, I was rationing my toilet roll by the square sheet because people had lost their minds and stockpiled all the Andrex.
So yeah – it might feel like one endless Groundhog Day right now, but let’s all take a moment to appreciate just how far we’ve come. 👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾
Once all the dust had settled on the fear and hysteria, we finally fell into some sense of routine – although the things that are ‘routine’ today were anything but just a short year ago. To mark this mind-blowing milestone, here’s a list of 12 things I do now that I never did pre-pandemic.
- Wear face masks: Before Covid-19, I don’t think I’d ever worn a face mask in my entire life. Today, I can’t even leave the house without making sure I’ve got at least two in my pockets (a new addition to the ‘keys, wallet, phone’ check, along with sanitiser). In fact, we now wear them so much they’ve birthed a new skin condition – ‘maskne’ (face-mask-induced acne). But on the plus side, I’ve really enjoyed the freedom of not having to bother with make-up.
- Wash my hands like a maniac: I’m mildly surprised that my hands have any skin left on them with the amount of scrubbing, sanitising and boiling hot water they’ve been subjected to this past year. In the olden days, I was quite happy with a quick rinse of H2O. Now I hum ‘Happy Birthday’ twice while lathering up with the nearest cleaning agent in sight (from Fairy to Domestos) and frantically washing them right up to the forearm like a demented heart surgeon.
- Stay in: Anyone who knows me will tell you that before we were all placed under house arrest, I was never in. I was at work, or visiting family, or down the shops, or at the cinema, or in a restaurant, or at a concert; my house was more like a hotel. Well, Covid swiftly swapped my Fomo (‘fear of missing out’) with Fogo (‘fear of going out’) – but eventually, I came to discover Jomo (the ‘joy of missing out’). Do you remember the sheer hassle of getting ready for a social event (IRL)? No thanks – hello gardening and baking and afternoon naps (actually… maybe I’m just getting old? 🤣)
- Cook: Anyone who knows me will also tell you that the KFC round the corner is probably the only reason I didn’t starve to death in my 20s. Cooking just isn’t really how I wish to spend my time (see no. 3) – but lockdown has forced me to become a culinary wizard. Between the food shortages and the Fogo, I’ve learned to make miracles out of leftovers and questionable finds down the back of the kitchen cupboard (it’s all in the seasoning 😉).
- Work from home: Once upon a time, working from home (or WFH, as we now so casually call it) seemed like a luxury only afforded to the chosen few. Well, we’re all the chosen few now – and isn’t it just fabulous? 😁 I’m not sure I want to do this all day, every day, forever (I’ll be voting for a hybrid model, myself). But having experienced the convenience, efficiency and savings of WFH (goodbye three-hour commute), ‘the office’, as so many of us knew it, might be gone for good (and amen to that!).
- Zoom: Along with WFH came Zoom – and it’s crazy to think that this video-conferencing behemoth did not even exist in my life until Covid occurred. 2020 heralded my first ever Zoom meeting (along with my first ever Zoom quizzes, raves, birthdays, baby showers and holy gatherings). Now we’re all familiar with showing our faces while dressed in our pyjamas from the waist down – or, on our worst days, sparing all involved by simply switching the camera off altogether. Marvellous.
- Exercise: Pre-pandemic, my main (read ‘only’) source of exercise was scrambling to the office and back. And I fully underestimated just how much that sweaty ordeal was contributing to my weight management. Once lockdown hit, I was barely doing 300 steps a day (there’s only so many you can rack up waddling to the fridge). Enter YouTube – starting with the nation’s PE teacher Joe Wicks (he’s a bit boring), before moving on to Jamie Kinkeade (she’s a bit ‘intense’) and Rik Bhullar (he’s got terrible taste in music), before finally settling on Caleb Marshall – the love child of Mr Motivator and Britney Spears. You’re welcome.
- Appreciate nature: Being locked up has definitely given me a renewed appreciation of the outdoors. I’ve become a bit of a backyard bird watcher (yes – me!!!), learning all their different calls and even adding a feeder to encourage more feathered friends (there are parrots in my grotty area of greater south London – who knew?!). I planted sunflowers and grew tomatoes and tended to all my house plants and to my surprise, everything flourished! A year ago, I could kill a cactus – it seems that green fingers might be one of the nicer side effects of Covid-19.
- Paint murals: That’s right – I’m an artist now.In the blistering hot summer of 2020, while being munched to bits by mutant mosquitoes in the backyard, I decided to get my Picasso on with the side of the shed. Wine glass in hand, I painted a giant (NHS/symbol of hope) rainbow, a cloud with raindrops, and two (abstract) flying flamingos. I also added some wavy waves (I’ve always fancied a sea view), and as the finishing touch, I even added the sun. And everything was going beautifully – until the sun (it looks more like a drunk daddy long-legs 👀). Don’t add suns. Suns are hard. 😅🤣
- Netflix: O…M…GGGGGEEEEE… has lockdown viewing been off the scale or what?! Unbelievably, I didn’t even have Netflix until last March. And the only reason I acquired it is because my telly blew up and I had to get a new one before we went into lockdown – and it had a Netflix button on the remote control (😁😁😁). Tiger King (the second most-watched Netflix show of 2020) was my first ever foray into the streaming service – and what an introduction! 👀😅🤣 Obviously, I’ve been square-eyed ever since.
- Gratitude journal: I now try to add regular entries of things I am thankful for into my gratitude journal. These lovely gifted books have been lying around, untouched, for years. But if there’s one thing the pandemic has taught me to do, it’s to count my blessings (🙏🏾). More recently, I’ve been supplementing this with affirmations, and I’ve also been becoming more interested in the ideas around manifestation (if I win the lottery, you’ll be the first to know).
- Staycations: I live for the holidays, so this has been the biggest lockdown bummer of all. Last year, I was meant to spend my 40th in Las Vegas; the furthest I got was Rye (close, but no cigar). And any hopes of using up our rolled-over annual leave this year are slowly slipping away, with talks of a third wave in Europe, and extortionate (but mandatory) quarantine hotels on re-entry to the UK. As a result, I’ve pandemic-proofed my summer with a hammock, a barbecue and a paddling pool (you couldn’t find any of these items for love nor money in 2020). So Boris, do your worst: I’m ready. 😎
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