Thursday seems to have come around quickly. It’s only the third day since lockdown started but I haven’t been this busy in a while. Between bleaching every crevice of my house, prepping meals for my immunocompromised sister, organising food and supplies for a three week lockdown, checking in on friends, setting aside two hours a day to exercise (which is a new thing for me), working on a client project, and keeping up with social content I haven’t had a spare moment.
I know this will change as we all settle into the rhythm of only being at home but in a way I am thankful to be kept occupied. Less time for introspection and for being absolutely fucking terrified for my family, friends, NHS nurse cousin, loved ones in New York, which seems to have been hit by a Coronavirus wrecking ball, and just the UK at large.
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There are now no new Ocado slots available: this is the queue to amend orders. My sister needs to remove a few things, as I have been able to source some of it locally. Then suddenly, after four hours, she is in.
I quickly get onto my neighbourhood girlfriends WhatsApp group to see if there is anything they haven’t been able to source locally. (All of us are trying to shop locally and not take up individual supermarket delivery slots.) We add sweet chilli sauce, Heinz ketchup, flour which has been impossible to find for nearly three weeks now, (00 for pasta, self raising for baking, and wholemeal for soda bread), dried yeast, and a panoply of frozen convenience food for the single mother friend with three children who can’t child mind, cook and run European ops for a global company simultaneously.
The delivery isn’t coming until the 30th – that’s next Monday, and today is Thursday. I’m worried that she might self-combust with stress, so I tell her that I will drive up to the Nisa on Queens Crescent to fill a basket with pizza, fries, vegeburgers, and fish fingers to drop off on her doorstep later that afternoon. (I would cook for her, but the kids point blank refuse to eat trad kids food – macaroni cheese, shepherds pie, soup, pies etc, so this is the path of least resistance.)
Speaking of food, today I make myself a quick frittata for lunch. I turn on the grill, and then in an 8″ non-stick frying pan (I use non-toxic Green Pans), I fry off a handful of sliced chestnut mushrooms and spring onions (scallions). I add in some defrosted chickpeas – I pressure cook these from dried, and freeze them in portions, and then pour over three beaten eggs. When the sides look cooked, I throw over some grated cheese, and slide the whole pan (making sure the handle is sticking out) under the grill to watch the top cook and puff up.
I serve it with lambs lettuce (mache) and a really delicious mustardy lemony vinaigrette. I am abstemious, only eating half, and saving the rest for lunch the next day to eat in a sandwich with mayo, sliced tomatoes and pesto. (Usually I wouldn’t add chick peas and would just eat the whole thing: the restrictions on shopping and food availability are making me think very carefully about how to stretch food further.)
After lunch, which I photograph and caption for my Instagram Stories, I do some more work, before heading up to Queens Crescent to do my convenience food shop for my friend. I was last in the Nisa on Monday and the change is very evident – then no one was self-distancing and I was hopping around the store like a cat on hot bricks trying to get away from people. Today everyone is standing at least two metres from the next person, and most people are wearing gloves and masks.
I head to Hampstead to leave the bags on her doorstep, and we chat at some 10 metres distance for a few minutes, before I head off to Parliament Hill to walk Lettice.
Walking on the Heath towards the end of each afternoon feels like a moving meditation. I don’t take for granted this access to one of London’s most beautiful wild spaces, and hope to God that the actions of the thoughtless fuckers who congregate here in groups, or run sweatily like dangerous Coronavirus vectors don’t get it shut down for the rest of us.
I use the time to dictate posts, and my diary into my phone, listen to podcasts, check in via WhatsApp on friends around the world, or just listen to the birds and the sound of Lettice crashing through the undergrowth as she chases elusive (imaginary) squirrels.
Today I stupidly get into an disagreement with one of my closest friends via WhatsApp about big US fashion businesses and their lack of support for their workers in the US. She thinks it would be bad for their bottom line when the crisis ends if they dip into their cash reserves to help people, and that this will have a knock on effect on workers in countries like Bangladesh in say six months time. I think it’s morally unconscionable not to support your workforce if you operate as a billion dollar revenue company in a country with no welfare state, where so many people are also on the poverty line with no healthcare. I lose my temper because I am being patronised, so say I am ending this conversation for the sake of my mental health. I realise I sound like a complete wanker, and that we are probably both right, so go for a long uphill tramp to calm down, and do a little crying about the state of things in general.
I return home – the journey back takes a scant ten minutes, compared to the more usual 20-25, tired and feeling emotional, to discover that my front door Yale key won’t turn. I try over an increasingly desperate few minutes to make it work but it just doesn’t budge a millimetre. The spare key I keep in a hidden lockbox won’t work either. I alternate between miserable sobbing, and trying to get the key to move. Lettice drives me to distraction by throwing herself at the door and meeping to be let in. Finally I bite the bullet and SMS my landlord who lives in the house on the other side of my garden. Inevitably a minute later the key finally releases in the lock.
It feels like a suitable moment to take a little nap – it would appear that self isolation is somehow quite exhausting. Afterwards, the evening is spent doing more cleaning, mainly in the kitchen, and starting on the big cellar/coal hole clear out.
Earlier in the day I stripped the bed; I choose my prettiest sheets and make it up. This is part of my being prepped in case I get sick strategy: being ill in dirty sheets would be miserable.
And so to bed…