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XX Notes: Lockdown the Sequel – This Time It’s Dark

Published on: 26 Sep, 2020
Updated on: 29 Sep, 2020

Maria Rayner

Maria Rayner‘s observational, fortnightly column from a woman’s perspective…

Déjà vu. Wikipedia tells us this is the feeling that one has lived through the present situation before. That’s one I’m having this week with Boris’s new restrictions. Lockdown 2 is upon us.

Before the contradictory comments roll in, let me explain why it feels like Lockdown to me. You’ll forgive me if I turn to The Sun, the national newspaper generally considered to have a reading age of eight, to help me explain.

Say goodbye to the long summer days…

Work from home if you can. I can. This means between the hours of nine and five I’m expected to be at home. OK, I’m part-time, but that means from Tuesday to Friday (with a morning off on Thursday for good behaviour) I am chained to a desk in my daughter’s room, feeling guilty when I get up to refill the washing-machine or take a delivery.

… hello again to typing at the kitchen table…

Sometimes I sit at the kitchen table for a change of scene, but the chair is too high for the laptop and I’m beginning to get RSI. It’s also quite distracting guessing which item of furniture the puppy will chew next. At least a trip to Guildford provided a change of scene and chance to ride the new bike.

…and indoor fun like painting rocks

Pubs and restaurants must close at 10pm. Easy, this one. You leave the pub, it’s cold and dark, you go home. The Sun informs me takeaways also close at 10, so there’s no delay by getting a kebab. In Guildford, you can visit an offie to carry on the party in Stoke Park.

But remember, it’s cold, so you’ll probably go home. Take five others, if you must, but only if there’s no one already there, including children. Remember to keep two metres between you, or wear a mask inside. Not many houses can accommodate that scale of distancing.

Facemasks are now compulsory in all retail. Meaning whenever you go anywhere that isn’t outside, except your place of work, and you’re working from home, remember, then you’ll almost certainly be wearing a mask.

Indoor workplaces are probably where you’ll be wearing a mask anyway: shops, taxis or hospitals. After 45mins in the supermarket I’m ready to rip mine off, a big incentive to work at home, with retail therapy shifting online months ago.

Don’t think I’m not grateful to those of you out there, public-facing in a mask. Before I landed a new role, I was one of you, and it’s hard to communicate when your mouth is covered with two layers of an old duvet cover held together with a piece of string. (I refuse to buy single-use plastics; Covid humanity will overcome microplastics in the sea, I’m not so sure.)

Fine for not wearing a mask doubled to £200. I’m not out and about a lot, but on visits to the shops, pubs or library, I’ve not observed anyone refuse to wear a mask. Some have forgotten, or been unaware of the new rules, but when reminded they reach into their pocket or pop on one they’re given.

My son catches the train to school and says pretty much everyone is masked. Scientists debate the effectiveness of them, some schools insist pupils have two, one for each leg of the school journey, other schools ban the “over-used, under-washed cloth variety”, prompting outrage from eco-parents who share my views on recycling. Personally, I gel my hands before I de-mask, but I am guilty of reusing. There’s no fine for that. Yet.

Weddings maximum of 15 people. This is terribly sad for brides who may have already down-scaled a big day planned for the summer. There’s some debate about whether this includes the registrar or vicar; maybe that’s the odd number. Or consider it a good excuse to ask Aunty Mabel to leave boring Uncle Ken at home.

We are in the sad position of planning a funeral, where numbers remain at 30. But we’ve discovered older people are keen to skip large gatherings and, with the average age to die in the UK at 81.27, excluding the deceased’s peer group from the wake isn’t an issue.

Adult indoor team sports off. I naively assumed this meant pub games such as darts or pool. (Hey, we’re a rugby family!) But The Sun set me straight. Indoor five-a-side football is banned, but an outdoor-organised game is OK. I suppose the government are following the science on where clusters of infection have sprouted and, despite 5Live reports about the spread within football squads, this must be safe.

Yet old habits die hard, and sportspeople are used to shaking hands with the opposition and the ref. I’ve seen several socially-distanced games end in the traditional manner so it can’t be long before we’re back to walking the dog for exercise.

The Sun’s best explanations are reserved for what it coyly calls “hook-ups”. Being happily married, I wasn’t aware people in a relationship, who weren’t in the same household, were still keeping a two-metre distance. Pretty sure none of my friends’ grownup children knew either because I’m reliably informed Tinder is as popular as ever.

So welcome to Lockdown 2. Healthline explains déjà vu occurs if “you didn’t give the experience your full attention the first time it entered your perception, so it feels like two different events. But it’s really just one continued perception of the same event”.

Well, I did give the first Lockdown my full attention, and in common with many people, my fear of the “unknown” virus has abated (I don’t even bleach my bananas anymore), so will this result in “lockdown boredom”, rule-breaking and Covid hotspots? It’s going to be a long, dark winter.

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Responses to XX Notes: Lockdown the Sequel – This Time It’s Dark

  1. Susan Fox Reply

    September 29, 2020 at 12:39 pm

    Unfortunately, I too am in the process of planning a funeral, Slough crematorium restricts numbers to 20.

    I come from a large family who live all over the UK many of whom who have said that they would like to attend. But it is impossible for my sister-in-law to arrange anything if she faces a £10,000 fine they return to their home in Maidenhead.

    Does the 30/20 include the follow-up to the funeral-socially distanced?

  2. Maria Rayner Reply

    October 2, 2020 at 10:47 am

    Dear Susan,

    Thank you for commenting on my column.

    We are a little further down the road on this now so I can update you on current guidance/law (from 22/9/20). Guildford Crematorium limits to 17 mourners for the ceremony but wakes are covered by the Government social distancing guidance/law – currently rule of 6. This is the link.
    Look at point no 2.

    Not good news for getting your family together to pay their respects, I’m sorry to say. There are other pages that give advice on funerals, eg quarantine rules coming from another country.

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