How best to lift the mood right now? My answer is simple and lies in half price easter eggs from Waitrose. Sure, there’s an hour long wait in the queue which snakes up around the block on the shady cold part of the pavement and sure, you can’t cut the supermarket queue by sneaking into the carpark anymore because they got wise to that little #lockdownlifehack, and SURE we are all getting fat and slightly yellowed in colour, but cheap easter eggs are a joy unbounded. And easter egg hunts can restore your faith in humanity. They really can.
Except for the one we did on Easter Sunday, in our communal garden. I told the kids about the Easter Bunny quarantine problem, so they knew that I would be standing in for him/her and would have to hide the eggs in the garden myself. I also knew that the garden, shared as it is by 100 households, would potentially be overrun by children and Easter Bunny parental substitutes. So I got up early for a run, got back, unlocked the garden, looked for who else was there, and started hiding the eggs. There was a middle aged couple doing exercise, the woman jogging around and around the perimeter and the man doing squats. I smiled at them and scattered the eggs as best I could, rather obviously, and then called the kids to come on over. They lined up at the gate, I told them to keep their distance from other people, they counted down from ten and off they ran, checking pathways and under hedges and in between branches for foil covered eggs that the squirrels hadn’t yet torn into.
The exercising couple were clearly not digging our hunt. The lady kept doggedly jogging around and around the path, glaring at my kids every time their steely egg hunting took them off piste. Her arms flew wide and outraged whenever they got near, and she shouted at them to KEEP YOUR DISTANCE! I mean, I get it. But we live a full four minutes walk away from Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens. There are joggers there, and paths, and valleys and hills and rivers and ponds and castles and art galleries and horses and trees and dogs and parakeets and kids tend to be largely avoidable. This was early morning on Easter Sunday and my kids were having a 15 minute Easter Egg hunt in our garden. They could have given us a pass. It crushed me a little bit.
What Else Though?
What else is there? My top tips for helping you realise that life still contains some joys:
- Gin and tonics from 5pm. Massive icy glasses. Experiments with mixers. Cheese and crackers to stop the tears and balance out the chocolate situation.
- A twice weekly delivery of cinnamon buns from Gails. Expensive, yes. But what else are we spending our money on?
- Keeping Mark working every day. This means we can pay the rent and buy cinnamon buns from Gails. If the four days off at Easter is anything to go by, keeping Mark at work is also helping him from having a rage-fuelled kid-related heart attack.
- Ozark. Modern Family. Tiger King, obviously.
- Opening up all my mysterious, often ancient, unused makeup and trying it on. Today’s look is a thick cat’s eye flick and golden eyeshadow.
- Trying on clothes that you think you hate. It turns out, I still do hate quite a lot of it but there are some gems to be found. Wear your wardrobe and sell the rest.
- Do those things you wish you had time for, but never usually do. Read. Sew a button back on and gain a shirt. Chuck out 26 pairs of boy’s shoes (that might just be me who needed to do that, perhaps). Make home videos of your husband attacking your children’s thick lanky hair with his electric razor. Work on your upper arms. Venture under the couch and retrieve old oranges and apples that look like mouldering shrunken heads. Buy more murano glass vases from eBay. Bake if you can find flour. Walk the dog, avoid the cops.
- Don’t worry too much about the kids. Too much TV never really hurt anyone, and we all need a bit of an escape.
I have been asked by a lot of people about how the lockdown is going at our place. Frankly, it felt much worse when we thought that Mark would be out of work and I felt desperate and scared. But then he went off to work and he keeps getting paid and suddenly the fear shifted.
Now our days are about filling them up and avoiding any fights over name calling and preferred positions on the couch from escalating to physical violence (because A&E can’t help us now). I let the kids do what they want after chores, schoolwork (resuming next week, thank the heavens) and after our little tree climb/softball game/dog exercising in the park every afternoon. Barnaby, Mark and I do the Joe Wicks PE lesson every day and I’ve been cooking from Sam Tamimi and Tara Wigley’s new cookbook Falastin. It’s all quite…nice.
I think the kids have never been happier – no school and all – and I am just thankful they don’t have much of a grasp on economics. We are fine, really because we have a warm and comfortable flat, we are all quite nice to each other, we have plenty of food, we have a dog, a park, a garden. Mostly we are fine because we have an income.
What that means, what it gives us – the security and comfort of an income just cannot be overstated. I think we shouldn’t forget what the impact of all this is for people who have no backup plan. Stay at home, yes, for sure – shout it from the balconies and from your front door – but also, be just as vigilant and aware of the damage that loss of income, homes and businesses will have on everyone too, and factor that in to the conversation.
To cheer us up, here is a photo of hot cross buns:
Remi as a Lockdown Bunny:
Remi as a Lockdown Baby in Shorts:
Me in a £25 Zara Lockdown Victorian Nightie:
I hope you are all well. Stay safe, don’t be mean, eat warm baked goods and smile at small children doing small children things.