Local parent, researcher and writer, Maddie Wallace, continues her daily diary describing the experience first, of self-isolating, and now of being in lockdown with her children in Southsea. We’re at Day 52, Maddie has woken up to a strange video, found out shopping and social distancing isn’t really a thing and finds out that A will grow up to be an accepting human being.
I woke up to a video in a group WhatsApp chat of a little girl, probably about A’s age, singing a song about poo and buttholes. My friend said it reminded her of my five year old, so I played it to A and she was appalled. Angry even. She clenched her fists.
‘That’s not how the butthole song goes! She’s stolen my song!’
I tried to explain that it isn’t her song, just a common thing that five year olds like to sing about. I tried to refer her to some cultural references, like the diarrhoea song in Parenthood, but she was also unimpressed that the other little girl had chosen a guitar as an accompaniment.
‘Drums sound more like poo plops,’ she said.
Hmm, well. She’s not wrong there.
My latest guilty binge pleasure has been Normal People on iPlayer. I’ve consumed it over two evenings because thirty minute episodes allow for that, even when there’s twelve of them. It’s intelligently written, subtle and in your face at the same time, beautifully directed and shot, and made me long for the feeling of lying naked with another adult human. They seemed to capture the way your skin feels when it’s touched by someone with genuine love for who’s inside your skin.
There was a moment when the main characters come out of a supermarket in Italy and don’t put hand gel on straight away. Because my fight or flight response is currently a bit haywire, I almost screamed at the screen before I remembered that this was love in a time before Coronavirus, and not even real. Is everyone else getting this? It’s like a momentary glitch when your brain can’t make sense of seeing people doing normal things like we all used to.
In a way I suppose it shows a certain level of acceptance about the current situation; it’s becoming embedded. But it’s also a feeling of forgetting for a while. Being so absorbed in drama that you don’t think about pandemics and hand gel and the glossing over of absurdly high death figures. And when that reality jolts back into your world again with a sudden lurch, it’s startling.
All this talk of VE Day and easing lockdowns to distract us from that shocking official death figure is making a lot of people assume everything is fine now. I went to Tesco yesterday and it was absurd and not just because people weren’t putting hand gel on when they left. The queue going in was very well managed and people were observing the social distancing guidelines. But once inside, it was pandemonium and impossible to keep two metres from people. It’s not Tesco’s fault, they’re not letting too many people in, but a lot of the people they are letting in seem to no longer give a toss about observing the rules.
I lost count of how many times I almost shouted at someone who breezed past inches from my face. I also lost count of how many people clearly from the same household were shopping in twos and threes; couples, parents with teenage kids who could easily have stayed at home, couples with young children.
Why are people suddenly being so blasé? Is it because we won a war seventy five years ago? Are they just fed up with lockdown and buying into the economic argument to ease it now? Why, on the day our death figures surpassed all other countries in Europe, were people throwing caution the wind? Have they all been watching Normal People and forgotten what’s going on in the real world? Doesn’t anyone care that the contact tracing app is not designed to effectively trace contacts but to harvest data?
I can’t see how we can go back to living as we were before without risking another – even deadlier – wave of the virus. It will be interesting to see what our new lives will be. What will we look like as normal people in a couple of weeks? Will I be able to lay in bed naked with another adult human?
That’s unlikely, because the poor guy would have to pick his way past a five year old who’s set up camp in a tepee on my bedroom floor, a dog curled up next to me and a kitten sleeping on my head. And if my sons ever decide to come home, he’ll be having to get past them too.
It doesn’t look that likely. Although A did say she’d like me to have a new boyfriend or girlfriend so she could have a step-parent. While I was explaining to her that I wouldn’t have a new boyfriend or girlfriend so they could help me be a parent, because I’m already doing that fine on my own, I couldn’t help but be proud of her total acceptance that I can love a man or a woman if I choose. She’s never seen me with a woman because I’ve never been with one, but she has shown that she’ll grow up accepting of the choices of others and the choices she has in life. Which did make me very happy.
And that’s the happy I need right now, because love in a time of Coronavirus looks tricky when no one’s yet worked out a way to hold you and stroke your skin from two metres away
Maddie is sharing her lockdown experiences every day on S&C – you can find each day’s diary and all of Maddie’s previous articles for S&C here.
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