As we approach a full 100 days in lockdown, we reflect on the things we’ve learnt while largely stuck at home
I was so blasé. Ten days before lockdown, I casually said on a podcast that I was still riding the tube, still seeing friends, still keeping calm and carrying on as is the British Way (from 22m here).
Little did I know, the entire country would shut down a mere week and a half later. Peter and I cut short our stay in London and drove back up to Richmond where we’ve stayed for the last 100 days – something of a record for two people who make their living from travel.
The initial novelty of an empty calendar wore off quickly and as we approach a full 100 days in lockdown, we look forward to a return to normality – or some incarnation of it. Aside from the obvious importance of friends and family, lockdown has taught us a number of things. Below, we share the lessons we’ve learnt while largely stuck at home.
Artists are integral
In my experience, there’s a widespread cynicism when it comes to art and artists. Being a ‘creator’ is seen as an indulgence; the preserve of the privileged or those too lazy or precious to work ‘a real job’.
I have written professionally for 14 years and though I believe there’s value in what I do, I also think of it as a bit of a luxury. I accept low pay and overdue invoices as immutable facts of the job – as if being a writer is an act of charity or penance.
During lockdown, however, I’ve come to recognise that art – and artists – are essential to our society. In quiet or lonely moments, so many of us reach for literature, music and cinema, much of which is written by a freelancer who doesn’t get paid until they sell their work.
Lockdown has taught me that writing books is not a luxury. It serves a valuable function and deserves to be compensated as any other job.
Fluency fades quickly
As travel bloggers, Peter and I are used to being out in the world. On any given day, we might talk to a dozen strangers and are used to doing so with easy facility.
After 100 days in lockdown, however, we seemed to have lost some of that fluency. We find ourselves reaching for words when communicating anything more complicated than a takeout order.
What’s more alarming for me personally is that I seem to be struggling with my mother tongue, Bengali, more than ever before. I only speak it to my mother and since I haven’t seen her, I find myself stumbling over words on our rare phone calls. It really is extraordinary that fluency can fade so quickly.
Nature is a panacea
We are pretty evangelical about getting into nature. We have enumerated its many benefits and work hard to encourage newcomers into outdoor spaces.
Lockdown has taught us just how important this is. On days when we stay at home, we find ourselves restless and edgy as we head into another long evening. If, however, we have taken a walk along one of the many pretty trails of Richmond, we are calmer and more relaxed upon returning home.
We are lucky to live in a town with such easy access to the great outdoors. We hope that when lockdown is over, local councils in crowded cities will invest more in their precious green spaces.
Bad hours can swallow good ones
As with most people, my productivity has been markedly affected by the global pandemic. The constant updates via Twitter and rolling news are extremely distracting. As the weeks have marched on, I’ve managed to find a rhythm, but there are still days when I get to 4pm and realise I’ve achieved next to nothing.
The temptation is to keep banging my head against the page and force myself to write, but bad hours can so easily swallow good ones if you don’t know when to stop. Lockdown has taught me that it’s far better to switch off, step away from the desk and try to enjoy the rest of the day.
We shouldn’t get a dog (yet)
Peter and I desperately want a dog. He’s crazy about them and, over the years, has won me over too.
Midway through lockdown, we seriously considered getting one. We saw people on Twitter proudly sporting their new puppies, and thought it might finally be time for the rescue dog we’d spoken about for years.
The thing is, lockdown is finite. It will end and life will become busy and full again. We’ll be travelling for much of the year – and what then? Leave our dog in kennels? Foist it on a neighbour? No. We’re not yet ready to give up travel which means we’re not yet ready for a dog. One day, but sadly not these 100 days.