The diarist in me has taken over the blog this month.
For the last 7 years my alarm had gone off at 6.15. The beauty of lockdown is that these days, at 6.15, I am still blissfully dreaming of football, pubs, restaurants and bags of flour.
6.45 – BLEEP! BLEEP! BLEEP!
Getting up time – this is still far easier than dragging myself out of bed at 6.15. After a few minutes on the precipice of ‘Return to Sleep County’ I put on my dressing gown and head downstairs. I am determined to make some use of the one and a half hours I am saving by not having to commute into London. After all, I would have normally left my house at 7.00.
I start the day by making a cup of tea. While the kettle headed towards boiling point, I convinced myself that I should check the i-pad to see what has happened in the world. I couldn’t help but look at the latest covid statistics. Um.. still moving slowly in the right direction. As my tea was happily supped, the i-pad sucked 30 minutes out of my day – how did that happen? Suddenly it was 7.30 and I needed to make a coffee for Mrs Brown. She still claims that the wedding vowels I agreed to were “to love, honour, cherish and bring your wife a cup of coffee in bed each morning”. After coffee duty, and a shower, the time had reached 8.00 and I still needed to eat something. I was going to try out that meditation app, but time had pressed on, so I’d put that off for another day (again).
How did I manage to get up at 6.45 and achieve so little – I guess that was an achievement of sorts. I switched the laptop on at 8.15 and sat down to work.
I felt that I needed to start work at 8.15 to build in enough surplus for home-schooling time. I think my greatest lockdown achievement is to have come up with a workable home-schooling routine. We have to print out the school timetable, and tasks, on a Sunday. I agree with my 11-year-old son what he has to do each day – whilst negotiating some extra tasks on to a fairly skeleton basic school timetable. He then tries to convince me to reduce the work, but in my ‘dad position’ I have superior bargaining power. He seems to have recognised this, although we also know that in his ‘son position’ he is far more skillful at finding a reason, on the actual day, as to why he can’t do the extra work. Albeit he will do the core work without fuss, and hereby we seem to have reached an amicable arrangement.
He has also negotiated that at 10.30 he lets me know it is break time. There is then a sudden burst of enthusiasm as shoes are put on feet and the football is picked up for a kickabout. That is just me – my son is a few seconds behind but is equally happy. Schools have the right idea; everybody should have a morning break time in their day.
After a great 10 minutes, where I got beaten for the 23rd day in a row at foot tennis, I’m back at my keyboard. I work from my kitchen table, opposite my wife. It struck us, partway through lockdown, that we must spend about 17 hours a day within 2 metres of each other, either across the table, settee or bed. Despite this, we are not arguing but just laugh, joke, grimace and smile our way through the day. I think she was comfortable with the fact that when we finally retire there was hope that the strain of spending lots of time with each other would lead to a retirement divorce. She is now resigned to the fact that we get on great and she is stuck with me for life. Bless her, she has expensive taste with everything except her choice of husband.
Monday morning then headed on to a familiar path, although partway through I realised that it was actually Tuesday. I checked my clock for the work team meeting at 11.30 and noticed it was only 11.12. I still had plenty of time. I glanced at the time again about five minutes later; somehow it was 11.31 and I was scrambling for the e-mail with the link to the meeting. This was the daily meeting with my close colleagues and helps keep me sane in this crazy world – some work discussion, some banter and always Nader confirming he had headed back to bed for this call.
As I have taken on the home-schooling battle then my wife is looking after the food. Somehow or other she knocked up a quick feast of crab sandwiches with salad for lunch. She is amazing, and the discovery of a fishmonger passing through our neighbourhood, on a Tuesday, has thrilled her (and the fishmonger if she keeps buying crab, salmon and prawns).
As my stomach started making satisfied sounds I started thinking: is it Wednesday today? A quick check of the calendar confirmed that it was still Tuesday.
The day rambled on in an all too familiar vein. My son finished his school work about 2.15 and I tried to piece together the clues as to which bits of work he had skipped. Had he completed the first and last page of a task then glued the middle pages together? I concluded that he had outwitted me again, but he seemed to have done a reasonable amount of work – so we agreed that if he watched Newsround then he could finish work for the day. The deal was agreed, and another peace accord was successfully signed off.
I never seem to know what has happened with the late afternoon – did the i-pad come in and suck time away? No, it was busy taking two hours out of my son’s afternoon. It must have been that bit of work that I thought would take 20 minutes – that new simplification process is making life increasingly complicated. By 5.00 my son was getting restless and asking, “have you finished work yet?” This carried on every 15 minutes until I gave up and agreed to the demand to play football with him. Crab sandwiches and playing football, I couldn't complain but the day disappeared in a blur. At 9.00 I realised that I didn’t get on with the book work that I hoped to complete. I was too tired – it would soon be Tuesday morning. Oh no, that wasn't right – Wednesday morning – probably – doesn’t really make much difference anymore. I just had enough energy for an episode from the box set before heading to bed.