12th March 2020
Today is the day the British may have to start taking Covid-19 seriously. This is the day of cancellation – the Australian GP, the Champions League, probably Euro 2020. The Prime Minister stoked the fires, telling the country they will “lose loved ones before their time.” Ten people have died, and the young and famous have begun reporting infections. I do not believe it will be long until lockdown – closures of schools cannot be far away. Non-essential work activity will not be far behind. I am selfishly hoping that restaurants and pubs will be closed before Mother’s Day comes around.
14th March 2020
Incredible anxiety over coronavirus, working in a precarious industry. Steve is already cutting shifts as cancellations come in their tens. What am I to do when we can’t afford the bills, if Kate and I both get ill and our money dries up? Will our landlord put our rent on hold for a couple of months? Lord knows. Will the grandparents make it through? Will it come around again next year?
Why is it so much easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism? Why are the majority of people determined to kill off vast amounts of people to stop the economy losing some points? Britain is now the only country in Europe not in full Covid lockdown because we have a bumbling idiot with a wallet stuffed by capital in charge, shoving his head deep into the sand.
15th March 2020
Beginning to feel rightly or wrongly paranoid about Covid. Thought I had flu-like symptoms earlier at work-now they seem to have passed.
16th March 2020
My livelihood becomes more and more insecure as the hours go by. At about 5.10pm the Prime Minister told the over-70s to remain indoors, and the population as a whole to avoid restaurants, pubs, and other meeting places. The cancellations have been rolling in. We saw twenty customers all day.
20th March 2020
Woke up early this morning. I don’t know what time it was but the light was coming through the curtains. I lay for a while, wondering what was different. I heard a robin outside the window chattering loudly – the only sound to be heard in a still morning. Then it occured to me: in all the time I had lain there I had not heard a single car. All of the closures: schools, workplaces, etc. meant that the silence of the morning was not punctured by the blaring of engines and the shaking of the walls. I wonder if it was that unprecedented silence that woke me, the absence of the rumble of normality.
Maybe this crisis will buy us some time with climate change, as industries the world over shut down indefinitely, people remain in their homes, and cars remain on driveways. A little reprieve for the atmosphere.
News came in whilst I was at work this evening that pubs and restaurants are to shit their doors tonight for the foreseeable. Meanwhile the government have set up a fund to pay suddenly unemployed staff. Suddenly I have found myself on a 12 week (at least) paid holiday.
24th March 2020
We are only allowed outside once a day for exercise. Hard to enforce but surely a good way to minimise infection. For this reason I am about to take to the exercise bike for the first time in weeks.
25th March 2020
The lockdown makes it unlikely I will fulfil my goal of walking 1500 miles this year, confined to one trip out per day as we are, for no longer than is necessary. I did 8 miles on the bike (indoors) today to make up for it.
Perhaps spent too long with the grandparents today, though they insisted we had a socially distanced cup of coffee in the garden we should perhaps have told them no. It would have been hard though, they must be terribly frustrated stuck in the house as they are.
26th March 2020
Keeping this journal is the only way I can keep up with the date during this confinement. Not that the date, or the day of the week, is in any way important, the arbitrary nature of the calendar become clearer and clearer as time marches on the same every day. Without the tiresome obligation to work for my living, the day and the hour have proven their irrelevance, simply a means of dominating our minds, imprisoning us in the structures of work.
28th March 2020
The strangeness and discomfort of social isolation began to set in this afternoon, I think in part because the sun went away: there is no longer a friendly reminder of the springtime lightening our rooms, and leaving its warmth behind in the evenings.
I desperately miss being able to walk out where I please, seeing other people face to face, and popping into the shops when I want to. I have not yet got so desperate as to miss work. On that note, I received my notice of furlough this morning, confirming that I will continue to be paid throughout this process, and will hopefully have a job to go back to when we can resume living normally (whatever normality looks like at the end of this.) There is a little less to be concerned about. Now I just need to wait for a moratorium on rent(!)
30th March 2020
Went twice to the grandparents’ to deliver supplies, simply for a drive out and something to do. This evening kate convinced me to play and enjoy Minecraft.
31st March 2020
The sun has come out again today, bringing a brighter aspect to quarantine proceedings. Got out to walk my three miles this morning and got a little sweaty in the process – the sun is quite warm and the wind still icy. Currently just cooking some sausages for lunch – we’re out of bread so it will be a lunchtime wrap with fried egg, tomato and mushrooms.
1st April 2020
This quarantine has got me thinking about Homogeneous, Empty Time. People who wouldn’t previously have stopped to think about it are realising that the time of capitalism is devoid of meaning, now that they have to fill the whole 24 hours of their own accord, prevented from the usual busywork necessitated by capital, prevented from social gatherings, left to consider absolute naked alienation in the isolated modern mode of existence. This crisis has proven the unsuitability of modern communications technology to actually provide the means to have fulfilling social encounters. It is better than nothing to be able to hear friends down the fibre-optics, but the silence of VOIP servers is deep and uncomfortable, and conversations between people planted in front of the whole distraction of the internet are often frustrated.
2nd April 2020
Slightly embarrassing that the people of Britain take to the streets every Thursday at 8pm to applaud. Highly dystopian behaviour.
3rd April 2020
Back from my morning walk, I have decided that today is the first since last Autumn that it is appropriate to open the sash window in the living room and let some of the fresh Spring air into our perennially dark front spaces. Down by the river the Friar’s playing fields are being mown, unleashing a heady scent that mingles with the late-blooming hyacinths. I saw a collection of long-tail tits in the trees on the banks and innumerable bees of all shapes and stripes. I wonder if wildlife is more abundant than usual due to reduced footfall around the town. Dad has seen bullfinches and reed buntings at Stern’s, but that’s not as unusual in such a secluded space.
4th April 2020
I am a little sick of isolation now; it would be nice to go out and do things, not be stuck in the house and its immediate surroundings the whole time. I went out to take pictures this afternoon. I wanted birds but hadn’t the patience to wait for them, so I got bees and flowers instead. What will I do tomorrow? Probably something very similar to today.
6th April 2020
If there is one thing I appreciate about this period of quarantine it is having my evenings again, time to spend intimately with Kate, time that is hard to come by when work is in full fow. Tonight was pleasant: we had rum and coke with curry for dinner, played backgammon, which I repeatedly lost at (it is a silly game). We talked about animals and had tea and cake for our pudding and watched videos about films. Idyllic. I can head to bed this evening, washed and stretched, feeling like I have had a fulfilling day, no longer worrying about whether I have spent my time wisely, now that time is no longer a commodity to be consumed but a long and languid space to be filled with anything that takes my fancy (so long as it conforms to social distancing.) It is easier to get up early too, having the luxury of unlimited hours ahead of me, and nowhere to be but inside the house.
7th April 2020
Today’s highlight: receiving my crate of Hobson’s I shall be in beer or the forseeable.
8th April 2020
I have spent the morning reading, nearly reaching the end of the King’s General, some poetry, a bit of Marx. Haven’t ventured outside yet today and it is after lunchtime. I ought to go out for a walk but I can’t face it. Breaking my routine by failing to undertake necessary exercise – embracing self-abandonment like the protagonist of a bourgeois novel, though perhaps with less drama due to circumstances and my own temperament.
9th April 2020
Having another difficult day with my mental health, have barely been outside though the weather remains beautiful. Again I couldn’t face it. Could barely do anything beyond merely floating about the house listless, thinking of activities and dismissing them immediately out of hand. Having nothing to look forward to is my usual problem, could be the same thing now – just weeks of seclusion stretching out before me. Tomorrow will mark three weeks since my furlough. I must get back to my exercise routine, I will be losing my progress.
12th April 2020
We had three drops of rain (approximately) this lunchtime. It has been a while since we had a decent downpour, the river is beginning to look a little low and the soil is getting cracked and dusty. With no change in the forecast for the foreseeable it is conceivable that we go from record breaking floods to a drought in no time at all. Such is modern life in a collapsing climate. The crises keep stacking up, and nature is reminding us that covid has not made the danger of climate change any less immediate. It is inconceivable that life returns to normal again.
In brighter news, the first bluebell blooms have appeared in my garden; they weren’t there last year, but have been freed and encouraged by my hard work to keep back the weeds and create space for the dormant seeds to grow. It is gratifying that nature can still reward a little conscientious effort.
15th April 2020
Isolation is still playing havoc with my mental states. Had a stress dream last night: A-Level Maths again, third night in a row, followed by some more general school content. Woke up in full lizard brain fight-or-flight mode. Jumped out of bed and ran downstairs panting. It has persisted all day: even now I am filled with a generalised anxiety, like there is something I should be worried about, something very important just on the edge of recollection and if only I could just reach out I might be able to remember it. It is nothing though, probably just panic over food shopping, which has taken on a whole new aspect under social distancing. Still just a slightly greater inconvenience than before, with the queues and the distancing manoeuvres in the aisles, but my brain has worked it up to something greater.