Monday, 6 April 2020

Only two weeks. ARE YOU SHITTING ME?


How can it only be two weeks since we were all told to stay inside and the schools closed down? 

It feels like months. 

Our previous life of wandering freely and carelessly now feels like a dream, like someone else’s life.

Remember when we used to nip out to the pub for a swift one? 

Or go out for an impromptu pizza just cos why the fuck not? 

Oh, and can you recall the good old days when we could watch a film at the pictures instead of on Netflix?

I can.

Of course I can.

But in the same breath, I can’t.

Not really.  

This new way of living has quickly and efficiently become the norm.

I saw a friend and her family out the car window as we were on the way to the shops.

We pulled over, wound down the windows and all of us shouted manically out of the car at them from the other side of the road.

Hollering enthusiastically, shouting over each other, the four of us desperately tried to have a face-to-face conversation with people other than our immediate family.

That’s one thing that’s really come into focus over the last fourteen days.

What a loud family we are.

How we all have an opinion on absolutely everything.

And how my children talk, constantly.

There is noise.

All the time.

Like every waking second.

Not even just waking, it transpires.

The kids also talk in their sleep, which was a joyous revelation, as everyone has now taken to piling in the same bed since lockdown.

Before this all happened, I thought of myself as someone who craved company.

I couldn’t imagine working all week in solitude. I need to be around people. I need the buzz of conversations. I need human contact to feel alive.

But I should have been more specific.

It wasn’t human contact I needed.

It was adult conversation.

What I would give for just two minutes peace.

I’ve started running.

I’ve turned into that guy.

I’m a fucking cliché and hate myself a little bit for it.

But this is survival.

I just need the occasional twenty blissful minutes of uninterrupted, painfully slow jogging, listening to music other than George Ezra, and allowing my mind to decompress.

I had, on my first ‘run’, started thinking how this would be a fantastic opportunity to get fit.

To really embrace a new way of living.

To slip back into my pre-wedding figure, and emerge from the lockdown as a svelte, younger looking butterfly.

Lockdown was going to be a chance to launch Anna 2.0.

I now realise how wrong I was.

The occasional jog around the park is counterbalanced with the end of the day thank fuck bottle of wine.

I’m going to roll out of this house, a bloated wineaholic. 

But, as we walk past the the recycling bins in the park for our hour of exercise, I realised I am very much not alone.

Hang in there, this wasn't anyone's plan, but it's the plan now and we're adaptable, brilliant woman. 

We're all over this shit. 

Let's just make a pact to not judge anyone's recycling box....





Monday, 30 March 2020

Has it only been seven days??

If I could go back to that carefree woman of two weeks ago, who was perusing through clothes she didn’t need in charity shops, laughing with colleagues at work and leisurely cruising the aisles of a fully stocked supermarket...

 I’d shake her and shout- SEE YOUR FAMILY AND FRIENDS, SQUEEZE THEM THAT BIT HARDER. 

LOOK THEM IN THE EYE AND TELL THEM YOU LOVE THEM. 

THEN GEN THE FUCK UP ON EVERYTHING FROM LONG DIVISION TO PHOTOSYNTHESIS. 

Because everything is about to change. Everything. And you will need to know this shit. 

Why? 

Ooooh. You just wait.

The announcement comes. We should stay in our homes. We often do of a weekend anyway, so what’s the big deal? This will be like wet play at school, just going on for slightly longer. Right?

See, I thought home schooling would be a bit of a stretch, but hey, I’m an intelligent woman. I have challenging conversations with grown ups regularly at work. I’ve managed to balance writing two novels with family life. How hard can this be?

Oh stupid, naïve woman of this time last week. If only you knew.

Day one- my husband is looking after the kids, while I attempt to work in the bedroom. 

We’re not yet on full lock down and the builders are still working upstairs on the never-ending loft conversion, which seems to mainly involve drilling loudly and consistently. 

My husband is in the front room, wearing a hi-vis jacket on the five year olds insistence, because ‘that’s what my teachers do,’ apparently.

I’m sitting on the bed with the laptop on my knees, trying to position it in such a way that I can have a zoom call without any of my colleagues seeing the mountain of washing in the background. 

I hadn’t even heard of zoom a fortnight ago. Or Houseparty. Or how to do a WhatsApp three way call. 

Day three and it’s my turn. 

Now, to all the teachers I was ever a dick to at school, I am so fucking sorry. You are heroes. Every single one of you. 

Trying to do anything with a five and an eight year old is tricky at the best of times, but trying to teach them anything at the same time is near on impossible. They both want to do different things, alternatively their shared interest is getting on each other’s tits.

So I do what any sane thinking person would do, and buy the last remaining trampoline in the whole of East Sussex, to be delivered as quickly as humanly fucking possible.

By day four, we’re getting into a bit of a rhythm, at least between 9am- 9.30, as we watch Joe Wickes with the rest of the world wide population. 

Lunch is a big deal and can take anything up to an hour and a half. 

The only thing the five year old really responds to is the story time one of his wonderful teachers records daily and posts on line for them to watch. She’s like a sorcerer. I can’t get him to sit still long enough to finish a sentence. She starts to read and he’s chin resting in hands, mesmerised for a full fifteen minutes. 

By Friday, I give myself a hearty pat on the back and a massive glass of wine. Done. 

Until the reality dawns on me. It’s the weekend, and it’s going to be exactly the same, except Joe Wickes isn’t live streaming.

The thing is, the penny hadn't really dropped that being in social isolation would mean that we would be with each other ALL THE TIME for potentially months. 

I attempt to reassure myself that in times of change, it’s amazing how we adapt,.

I remember when the smoking ban was first introduced when we were all semi-professional smokers, and we were all like, they can’t do that. That’s an outrage. If we want to smoke inside, that’s our right.

Where as now, it’s incomprehensible that we’d walk into Pizza Express and someone would be sitting inside with a fag on. 

'Socialising' has quickly taken on a life of it's own. 

Beers in the pub have been replaced with group chats on Whatsapp. Playdates with Facetime meet ups. Classrooms with zoom meetings of children excitedly shouting over each other. Pictionary with school friends you haven't seen for forever who drop in via Houseparty is now a common occurance.

We're all learning how to connect again. Just differently. 

But for now it also seems vitally important that we find a way to manage the noise we let into our lives and into our brains, through all the countless sources of information, while we're working out what the fuck we're doing. 

Be gentle on ourselves. 

And on our families. 

We’re all going to have melt downs. 

Our kids are going to miss their friends, their teachers and the structure they’re so used to in their lives. 

We're all trying to figure out how this shit works while all living within four walls.

Attempting to work, to parent, to teach, to cook, to clean, to maintain relationships with our friend and families without all killing each other.

But we’ll all get through this. 

And when we do, how much are we going to enjoy that first sunshine pint in a beer garden?

A long walk on the beach.

A trip to the cinema to see some awful Disney film that the kids are desperate to see. 

And a bear hug with all those we love and for now can only tell them on a screen.

Now, that is going to be worth the wait. 










Sunday, 12 January 2020

Hello Sunday nights...

Sunday used to involve a gentle session at the pub, a roast and a few pints. Maybe a walk, nothing too strenuous.

More of a stroll.

A womble.

Followed by shit telly, beige food and bed, ready to start the week with a moderate hangover and no-one to worry about other than myself.

WELCOME TO SUNDAY NIGHTS NOW.



That’s two loads.

Two more to go.

I have no idea how we generate so much fucking washing as a family.

There are four of us, and the youngest is half my height and refuses to wear anything other than a grey tracksuit which makes him look like a mini version of Rocky, so it’s not him.

My life is now one long washing cycle, pairing odd socks and trying not to shrink school uniforms in the tumble dryer.

Oh- the tumble dryer. My second love after the kids.

The only luxury item I bought when I was given the advance on my book

Not a Vivienne Westwood dress. Nope.

Or a snazzy new radical hair cut. Not for me.

Or a reinvent yourself tattoo of some motivational quote. I don’t think so.

A FRICKING TUMBLE DRYER.

So if you’d excuse me, I now have a date with a series about a psycho serial killer and approximately four hundred pairs of individual socks to match up.

Hello Sunday nights of the future...