Corona Diaries II – 24, 25 March


Didn’t watch the news today, lived in a bubble. First day of three week lockdown.

Today I reach for the jam and pick up a tub of vitamins. They’ve been on the breakfast table in the morning for about a week now.

Looking out the window, I see the Mediterranean in the air and the sun of the morning, but then, it might be that being cooped up with my family makes it feel eerily like a holiday. I say this to my dad and sister, and they say ‘what, like the mediterranean in winter, in the middle of the night?’. I’m so lucky to have travelled in Europe. If I thought England was the whole world, I would have lost my mind a long time ago. Or become some kind of pygmy version of myself.

My sister’s haircut was meant to be today, but after the quarantine really started yesterday, all barbers should be closed. I like to think that by the end of all this, everyone will be showing their primitive side, unkempt hair and big beards. Or maybe people will invent new ways to cut hair. Anyway, she had an absolute breakdown. She hasn’t had it cut in 6 months.

I go to tesco today to pick up milk and bread. We’re only supposed to go out when we really need to, so we grab some chocolate and coke as well. My area’s so civilised, you couldn’t tell there was a lockdown on, apart from a few people with their snoods pulled up over their ears, and the teenagers hanging around the pharmacy, probably picking up courage to get some condoms. Across the way in a poorer area, it’s a different story, with half the dullards queueing up, and the other half shouting ‘it’s all a hoax!’. Feel like going over there and shouting too – do you know how this makes us look? You’ve landed us on the national news for gawds sake! But i’d probably get mugged. Incidentally, queueing must be one of the weirdest spellings in english. Five vowels all lined up.

Translating is slow today, the chapter is a long one, with a difficult bit towards the end. It’s a nice problem to have though, translation. There’s always some phrase that captures the right way of getting something across. It just involves kind of ignoring it, or looking at it out of the corner of your eye, not scaring it away with a lot of thinking. And once you’ve translated a sentence, you know what to do next – you have a cup of tea, then translate the next one.

Skipping rope skips: 250. I tried crossing my hands for each skip. And failed.


Still off media.

In the morning I listen to Talking Politics, where they talk to an Oxford academic currently sheltering in Italy, where you now need a little form to go outside. I wonder what my forms would say in a more normal time: ‘Just felt a bit restless so decided to go to town to sit in a café but I may end up going straight home’, or ‘walking around reading because I can’t concentrate at home on my own’. Then I finish Mary Jean Chan’s poetry collection, Fléche, which was interesting. Great poem in there about washing your hands as a way to control anxiety. Channel it down the plughole, as it were. Then I listen to some of the Doom: Eternal soundtrack.

Since we’re all working from home now (I use that term very loosely for myself, since I work in a charity shop and in every respect, it’s closed.) I wonder whether this event has the potential to further the kind of muddling up of the city/countryside boundary in outlook. Some people are going to get into internet culture for the first time, like a cleaner walking in on an orgy. Do they join in? Do they just carry on cleaning? Or most likely, do they try and erase the whole thing like the people from Krikkit? ‘It’ll have to go’.

Looks like it only took a societal crisis to make me have a massive productivity spike. Not entirely sure why that is. Probably because my family are constantly around me, doing work, and I find it easier to work if others are working too, kind of like a motivational slipstream. Hate to be one of those people who thrive in a pandemic!

My hands have never been so pampered in their lives. Though I have to say, whoever designed them really wasn’t thinking of hygiene. I could think of a few improvements, no nails for one. Apparently, like a lot of body parts, they become self cleaning after a while if you leave them, largely due to the large amounts of oil that would constantly pour off them. Before soap, people must have smelled really weird.

Later, I have an online pub quiz with my friends. It goes well, if a bit long, but there’s quite a lot of pressure in being watched, not being able to relax for a couple of hours. I think that says more about me. One of my friends had just got off work at nine, working on American time. His company have brought in an obligatory self reporting system for the end of each day at home. “It’s terrible” he says. “I have to spend two hours at the end of each day making up a load of stuff that I’ve done.”

Skipping rope skips: 0 (Due to indigestion and also ‘meaning to do it later’)

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