The Lockdown Diaries – Week 4

16 April 2020 Joanna Byerley

Home partying injuries and snooping neighbours, this is what Anna Champan observed in week 4 of her lockdown diary. Hilarious and so on point! 😂

CORONATIME WEEK 4

According to the BE experts, it takes 66 days for behaviour to change so, yay! we’re halfway to becoming new people in lockdown. As the weeks slip by, we’re adjusting to a life played out online and in our homes (with brief excursions in homemade face masks and Marigolds to get food or engage in an approved outdoors fitness activity). While Easter provided a welcome break to pig out on chocolate, the lockdown grind has started again. I watch enviously as people are emerging from their homes in other countries. In the UK no one knows what the exit strategy is and a vaccine is months away. I’m clinging to dubious rumours about generational release from lockdown and hoping to pass for 30 in a hat, mask and sunglasses. This is what I’ve learnt in week 4.

Watching me, watching you

It’s not just me who’s observing what other people are up to. Everyone’s at it. An announcement by the local police on NextDoor asking for people to report on others who are breaking the government Coronavirus measures caused an angry debate on my street (over email, of course. We wouldn’t risk chatting to a neighbour now). While we all want this thing over as quickly as possible, how much freedom do we want to sacrifice in the process? Elsewhere testing and mobile tracking have proved to be effective in curbing the spread of the virus. In an unprecedented display of cooperation, Apple and Google have teamed up to work on contact tracking using Bluetooth. But if we adopt this tech strategy in the UK, can we trust ‘them’ (whoever ‘they’ are) who might get their hands on our data? Will it be anonymised, leaked, sold? Edward Snowden thinks we’re sliding into a one-way street of mass control. Staying at home too much can make you paranoid.

Counting up and down

As if we didn’t have enough data to analyse, this pandemic has created mountains more. And one thing that I know from the world of research, is that numbers are meaningless on their own. Someone needs to be able to pull an interesting story. Statisticians have posted some fascinating charts, but their work relies on the accuracy of numbers in the first place. When it’s revealed that hundreds of deaths in care homes haven’t been added to the national toll, it makes you question what else hasn’t been counted. How can we get an accurate, comparative picture of this thing if the numbers are flawed? Didn’t I just say that staying at home makes you paranoid?

24-hour party people

Sorry Jesus, but I’ve always associated Easter with incredible nights out. And I’m happy to report that lockdown didn’t stop the partying. It made it even more important and hilariously homespun. Across the land people were raving around their laptops as festivals for all demographics went online. After they’d spent the previous 12 hours imagining they were at the Hacienda with Shaun and Bez, Facebook was awash with people of a certain age complaining they couldn’t walk on Sunday. At least they had a good excuse to stay at home. Meanwhile Camp Bestival hosted a sleepover party where glittered performers attempted to transform their front rooms and back gardens into makeshift circus spaces. It might not have been polished, but it beautifully captured the spirit of DiY fun.

Reimagining old stuff

Being bored is meant to be great for stimulating your creativity. Coupled with the challenges of food shopping right now — the missing items in your delivery, the endless two metre-spaced queue outside the supermarket — people have started foraging in the back of their cupboards and fridges, pulling out ancient cans and gifted jars to make interesting creations. The results are worthy of a savoury version of Nailed It. Sag aloo in a pie? Sushi rice with dad’s pickle…? Just watch the sell-by date.

Will we ever be the same again?

This week I’ve seen a lot of debate on social about what’s going to happen to next. Cynical marketing gurus say nothing will change, we’ll go back to how we behaved last time we had a huge recession. Our values will remain the same. Reports from China show the luxury market bouncing back — $2.7million was apparently spent in Hermès’ flagship store in Guangzhou on the first Saturday of opening. But I think small shifts are happening. We know that the pandemic has shone a light on inequality — lockdown in a lux celebrity home with a gym and a pool is incomparable to a pokey one-bed flat — and people are calling this out as they experience wage cuts and job losses in their own lives. As we emerge from this slow reflective period, greed appears ugly in the face of our flourishing community-minded spirit. Will we demand that frontline workers be better funded and paid? As many struggle with anxiety, trauma and grief, surely mental health will remain a priority. Pollution has dropped during lockdown and this is pointing a big, oily finger at a larger challenge — climate change. While this might have slipped off the news agenda, sadly it hasn’t gone away. This time is forcing us to be resilient and innovative and these are skills we need for the future.

Anna Chapman is a culture-obsessed researcher, strategist and copywriter hustling for freelance work during the lockdown. Click here to contact her. 

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