Becky says things about … going back to work

Greetings isolators / key workers / gone-back-to workers / reluctant commuters / working-from-homers / sunbathers / exercising 29-times-a-dayers / whatever the hell we’re supposed to be doing or calling ourselves these days.

This has been a funny old business, hasn’t it? The world has been infected with the same virus, as countries and nations we’ve been given the same “instructions” by our respective governments (or just told to use our common sense), and yet our individual experiences of this pandemic will vary gigantically: some of us will have never worked harder or under more stressful or demanding circumstances; some of us will have knowingly risked our health and our lives every single day; and some of us will have descaled the kettle.

I’m a kettle descaler. My work was wiped out back in mid March and has yet to resurface. As a result of not working for nine weeks, I have made an important decision: I am never going to work again.

I have decided that not working is just better than working. Especially when the weather is amazing and that nice man Rishi Sunak has given me some money under the self-employment grant scheme, so I’ve decided that I’m going to write to Rishi Sunak and ask him if he’ll keep it coming.

For those of us who have been kettle descalers throughout this pandemic, this will likely be the longest time since we were about three years-old that we have not had anything to do. When was the last time you had a nine week holiday?? Are there any studies to show whether a human being can even do work after a nine week holiday? Because I feel pretty certain that if I was asked right now to look at a document or write a paper or do anything that I was doing before the pandemic, I wouldn’t be very good at it.

Also, if I go back to work I won’t have time to do anything important, like go for long directionless walks, or bake cookies, or put a load of clothes in a binbag then change my mind and take half of them out again, or sit down at my desk on a sunny afternoon with a sharing bag of Twiglets and write a blog, or do my Painting by Numbers. Painting by Numbers has become a very important part of my life. Before Covid-19, I hadn’t done a Painting by Numbers for about 20 years because I was a grown-up and I went to the pub instead, but since lockdown I have done two and I’m on my third. I cannot imagine life without Painting by Numbers. I do my painting and I listen to podcasts. It is lovely. If I am forced to go to a meeting, all I will do is think about Painting by Numbers.

And anyway, due to a cunning time-filling tactic practised throughout lockdown, things now take far too long for me to fit in work. Showering and brushing my teeth takes at least an hour. Breakfast isn’t until 11am and is barely over by 1pm. Thinking about going to Sainsbury’s, preparing to go to Sainsbury’s, walking to Sainsbury’s, being in Sainsbury’s and walking back from Sainsbury’s is a good four hour process. That’s already an entire day filled, and did you spot any time in that schedule to fit in some work? Didn’t think so.

I mean, I do realise that in order to rescue our crippled economy and prevent a devastating recession we do all need to get our arses in gear and start doing some work, but does the economy really want the help of a load of braindead layabouts like us who have spent the last two months watching Pointless and clearing out the loft?

So, it really does all make sense, you see, and once Rishi Sunak agrees to keep paying me not to work, things will just be great because there’s so much stuff I’ve yet to do that isn’t work: there’s a patch of grass outside my window that I want to go and stand in, I  still haven’t hoovered behind the radiators, and the Sky Crime channel won’t watch itself, so I’ll have a pretty full life.

And for those of you who haven’t had a nine week holiday, you are absolute heroes and legends and we salute you. We’re all legends for getting through this, except some of us are actual legends and some of us are kettle legends.

Becky says things about … staying alert

Good day, isolators.

Frankly, I’m ashamed of you. The amount of confused confusion over and around the clearness of the clarity and non-unambiguity relating to and concerning the government’s recent and previous but now and continually updated guidelines on how we should act and behave and not misbehave not only but definitely now and also in the immediate and potentially foreseeable future, is pitiful.

The slogan ‘Stay alert’ appears to be the crux of the befuddlement, which is ridiculous because it’s self-explanatory and couldn’t be clearer. I mean, it’s not as though a load of oiks at Number 10 would just come up with a vacuous and meaningless slogan and hope the general public will just accept it and abide by its ambiguous instruction, is it? Think, you fools!

But as I’m a responsible citizen I thought I’d explain it to those of you whose brains have clearly been besmoggled by lockdown inertia and not doing enough crosswords.

The concept – nay, the science behind the ‘stay alert’ slogan – is essentially a 1,046.723% guarantee that we will be just as safe travelling on public transport, or sitting in an office, or sending our children to school, or meeting people in the park, or exercising outside 29 times a day, or buying a much-needed phormium tenax variegate from the local garden centre, as we were when we stayed at home. But how? the more dense amongst you are asking. Why are we allowed to start doing all this when hundreds 0f people a day are still dying of the virus and there’s no PPE and no vaccine and workplaces aren’t ready and don’t know how to put social distancing measures in place and it’s impossible to get on a train without having at least three people empty a bodily fluid onto you? 

Because, dunderheads, just do what the slogan tells you to do: stay alert. It’s foolproof! If you stay alert, you will see the virus coming. If you don’t stay alert, you will not see the virus coming. If you’re lolling about in a queue for a supermarket poking around on your phone instead of staying alert, you’re not going to see the virus scuttle up your trouser leg, up your jumper and into your mouth, are you?

So what should you do if, through your continued alertness, you see the virus?

If you see the virus, you should then – as the slogan advises – control the virus. If the virus approaches you, shout very loudly and clearly ‘I see you’ or simply ‘No no no’, and the virus should scuttle off into the distance, embarrassed. Or, consider purchasing a virus alarm. If you see the virus – which, again, to stress so there is absolutely no ambiguity, you will only do if you stay alert – blow four short blasts followed by six long blasts into your virus alarm and three officials from the Virus Apprehension Group (VAG) will immediately appear and control the virus by tackling it to the ground.

If you are being forced to go back to work because the government has told you to if you can’t work from home but you should definitely try to continue to work from home but if you can’t you should go to work but don’t go to work if you can work from home but do go to work anyway, despite the fact your employer doesn’t know what ‘Covid Secure’ means but has made it very clear to you that your employed days will be numbered if you don’t get the hell back to work even though you can technically work from home but they’d prefer you in work because they don’t want you to work from home, and you have no option but to travel by public transport despite the fact the government advises you not to travel on public transport and to work from home if you can but please do go to work, there are several things you can do:

1 – Stay alert. If you are alert the moment you leave your house, you are more likely to spy one of several thousand mythical animal volunteers who have signed up under the Mythical Animal Transport Scheme (MATS) to transport people to work who live miles away from their workplaces but don’t want to risk the virus-soaked air of busses and trains.

2- Stay alert. If you don’t manage to hitch a lift from a unicorn volunteer, stay alert on the Bakerloo Line by staying alert for the virus and staying alert to maintain social distancing and, as the government suggests, simply keeping your head turned away from other commuters, because, if you use your common sense, there is plenty of empty breathable air on the London Underground, you just need to be sensible enough to find it.

3 – Stay alert. Once you arrive at your workplace, do not question your employer’s dubious social distancing measures: your workplace will be Covid Secure. Covid Secure means that, due to a watertight combination of social distancing, staying alert and good old English common sense, it will be literally impossible for the virus to either enter or survive inside your workplace.

Some of you are also having problems with the government’s calculations about how we keep down the R rate and keep up the alertness and keep the things in the middle at an even level but not too much and as much as possible, so because you’re clearly all so dopey I’ve recreated the government’s helpful and extremely clear graphs as though I would for a toddler.

Speaking of toddlers, if, as a teacher, you’re unable to stop a class of 4 year-olds hugging each other or putting bits of the classroom in their mouths or all licking the same windowsill, quite frankly I’m not sure how you got to be a teacher in the first place, but as everyone appears to be so dense I’ll spell it out to you: use your common sense to instil common sense in the children, I mean this really isn’t difficult, a 4 year-old is bound to be understanding of the situation.

I trust that’s all clear now, because I hope you realise that if you now go to work or get on public transport or pop off to the garden centre and contract the virus, it will be as a direct result of not staying alert and therefore entirely your fault. What else can the government do to keep us safe other than release us back into society way before they originally said they would and give us extremely clear guidance on how not to be so witless as to catch the virus?

I know these things because I’m alert. I am so alert I haven’t slept since the government told me to be alert. This slogan came out last week. I am literally crippled with sleep deprivation but I am alert alert alert, and with a little bit of common sense, you could be too.

To test your own alertness I have devised a self-alertness test by inserting a picture of a chicken in this paragraph and if you see the chicken you

are clearly alert enough to go about your business and remain 1,046.723% safe from the virus. If you didn’t see the chicken you are clearly not alert enough and I suggest you just stay at home. Except don’t. Except do. Kind of.

Becky says things about … being institutionalised

Greetings isolators!

Happy Bank Holiday! Isn’t it wonderful to have a Bank Holiday on a Friday! What a novelty! What an absolutely wonderful excuse to go for a mass picnic in this beautiful weather, or to cram into a pub garden and drink pint after pint of ice cold beer! What an absolute MOCKERY OF OUR CURRENT INCARCARATION.

So it appears we are over the hump and the end of lockdown is in distant sight; a gradual relaxing of the rules that have forced us to be antisocial hermits for nearly eight weeks. That sounds fantastic, doesn’t it?! It’s the moment we’ve been waiting for!

But eight weeks is a long time. This is our life now, isn’t it?

So what if, when we’re finally allowed to all see each other again, we find we don’t want to?

What if we’ve all forgotten how to socialise with humans that are standing in front of us?

What even is real life? I wake up, I go to the shop, I go for a walk, I do some exercise, I check my emails (there are no emails), I write a blog, I read a book, I cook some dinner, I watch some TV, I speak to friends on Zoom – I have spent 23 hours a day for the last 47 days in my tiny studio flat. What else is there?

What if, when we’re allowed to go and buy the things we haven’t been able to buy for eight weeks, we become overwhelmed?

What if, when we’re allowed to have gatherings, and places get more crowded, and more people spill outside, and we’re allowed to go to things like birthday parties, we have a freak out?

What if, when we’re allowed to book holidays again, we find the thought of travelling more than 3 miles from our homes frightening?

The answer is: we won’t know until it happens. And in the meantime, I need to book the corner of my kitchen by the fridge for June 2021 before it gets too busy.

Becky says things about … social distancing

Greetings isolators!

Are we all having fun? Isolating like a pro? Cruising through week 6 like a socially distanced winner? Unfathomably and bafflingly relieved that the weather has turned to shite?

So this week I thought I’d actually do something useful and put together a collection of guidelines on how to social distance in the correct and most effective way. Having been doing it for several weeks now, I feel equipped to impart my knowledge and experience to ensure that we’re all on the same page. (Well, obviously not all on the same page, that would be a heinous violation of social distancing rules; strictly one person per page, or even every other page (or some in a separate book altogether, just to be on the safe side)).

Guideline 1 – Queue. Everywhere. Anywhere.

If you need to go into a shop, queue. If there is already a definable queue in place, join it. If there is an ambiguous queue, join it. If there is no queue, start one.

To demonstrate this guideline, I shall provide you with a helpful example of my own experience.

Last week I approached the local Co-op. There was a lone man standing slightly to the left of the door. I stood two metres behind him. A few seconds passed. The man turned round to me and said ‘Oh, I’m not actually queueing.’ Fine. At that moment, another man approached the shop door from the other direction and loitered by the cash point in the wall, so I went and stood two metres behind him. The man turned to me and said ‘Oh, I’m actually only here to use the cash point.’

Whilst this does not demonstrate the most successful queuing attempt, it demonstrates the intent to queue. You should always intend to stand behind someone or something for a short period before entering a shop.

Because do you really want to take the risk of just strolling gung-ho into a shop without being 110% certain that there is no queue?

Guideline 2 – Become a contortionist 

If someone is standing near an item that you want in a shop, instead of asking them politely to move whilst you socially distancely reach for said item, you must contort your body into the most inventive shape possible in order to a) collect the item without disturbing the other person, and b) keep your face as far as possible from the other person whilst still being able to reach your item.

This works best if there are several socially distancing people who desire items from the same area of the shop.

Guideline 3 – Perform the Social Distance Waltz 

If you suddenly come face-to-face with someone and realise that you have unwittingly entered the infested, germy, virusy, antisocially-distancey inner sanctum of within two metres of each other, you must both perform the sweeping Social Distance Waltz (or SDW, if you will) and gallop around each other whilst both apologising profusely and chuckling in acknowledgement of the mutual absurdity of the situation (see diagram below).

NB. It is crucial that everyone performs the Social Distance Waltz in a clockwise manner, otherwise the manoeuvre can become lethal.

Guideline 4 – React Appropriately to Enemies of Social Distancing (ESDs) 

If someone infiltrates your two metre radius, please see the below options as helpful examples on how to respond, with thanks to various pals for imparting this guidance from their own experience.

Option 1 – Mind-bending over-reaction 

Option 2 – Sarcasm

Option 3 – Passive aggression 

Guideline 5 – Don’t be afraid to take things up a level 

You can never be too distanced, and I admire those who are taking their social distancing seriously. The other day I was walking along a deserted pavement. This pavement was wide and had an equally wide grass verge. One could comfortably socially distance in a crisis. A middle-aged lady appeared on the pavement about 100 feet in front of me. I  moved onto the grass verge, but she crossed the road. Fair enough, I thought – but instead of continuing her journey on the other pavement, she simply stood, quite irately, on the opposite pavement and scowled at me as I passed. Once I had passed, I looked back and she’d crossed back over the road. Not only is this an admirable example of top-level social distancing, but it got her message across loud and clear.

I hope that these guidelines have been helpful and will assist you in making some quality social distancing decisions.

You                                      are                                        welcome.

 

 

 

 

Becky says things about … losing it in lockdown

Greetings isolators!

IT’S FRIDAY!!! Quick, get out the party poppers and the party hats woooooo.

Put your hands up if you lost it to the Week 3 Wobble last week?

MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE.

The Week 3 Wobble was borne from the following factors:

  •  By Week 3 I realised I’d completed most of the time-consuming activities I’d planned to keep myself busy (cleaned the blinds with a toothbrush, arranged my tinned food alphabetically, took all my books out of the bookcase, set aside one for the charity shop, put them all back in a slightly different order etc.)
  • By Week 3 the last dribs and drabs of work had fallen away completely
  • By Week 3 the novelty of having all this time and of being able to hear the birds and smell the flowers and see the sky bla bla bla had worn off
  • I suddenly remembered why we’re in lockdown.

And all of these factors clicked into place at exactly the same time, setting off an uncontrolled snowballing of doomish truths: suddenly my friends and family seemed very far away and I realised I was utterly desperate for human contact of any form –

– the prospect of another evening in my tiny flat was suddenly grim; the pressure of relying solely on my own motivation to keep myself occupied became suddenly overwhelming, and the fear of this virus as the deaths ceaselessly climbed to eye-watering and devastating numbers became suddenly acute and terrifying, and all of the above exploded in the Week 3 Wobble that manifested itself in a brief but fairly intense meltdown on the floor of my flat.

But having spoken to several chums, it would appear that many of them also lost it to the Week 3 Wobble, as the adrenaline of the novelty of the first two weeks subsided and stored-up feelings of frustration, despair and fear managed to break through the sunshine and blue skies and remind us all that

THIS IS DEFINITELY NOT NORMAL.

And whilst I feel much better this week, this lockdown is definitely starting to take its toll.

For example, I appear to be losing my ability to communicate with real-life human beings in a face-to-face manner. A few days ago I approached Sainsbury’s, and there was no one queuing outside but it looked fairly busy inside, so I stood behind the queueing barrier like a responsible socially-distanced-aware citizen and waited to be admitted.

Whereupon a woman strode right past me and through the doors.

Now, in my head the words that subsequently came out of my mouth – ‘Excuse me, I’m queuing here’ – were supposed to be uttered in a polite and gentle tone, something that sounded like:

Instead, due perhaps to this strange and unpractised form of face-to-face communication with a human being who isn’t on the other end of Zoom or Skype or WhatsApp, the words ‘Excuse me, I’m queueing here’ actually came out in a tone that may as well have said:

I immediately felt AWFUL about my aggressive tone, made worse by the fact that the woman immediately and profusely and so incredibly politely apologised and hurried to stand behind me, and explained so apologetically that this was the first time she’d been out in four weeks and she didn’t know the rules of shopping and she was terribly sorry, and I felt SO bad at my unwarranted outburst that I spent the next five minutes orchestrating a desperately friendly conversation, and by the time I was admitted into the sanctuary of Sainsbury’s I knew where she’d met her husband, the middle names of her four children, and her bra size.

This was not the only queue-related momentary loss of civility I have had.

Is anyone else noticing that, whilst there are many examples of some first-class queues forming outside supermarkets, there are also plenty of examples of absolute queuing abominations?

An example, for your delectation: outside the post office earlier this week, there was a smattering of people loitering on the pavement in a manner that can only be described as willy-nilly.

This is a bird’s-eye demonstration of what they should have looked like:

This is a bird’s eye view of what they actually looked like:

It’s as though the social distancing measures are weakening the gravitational pull of the person in front, and queuers are going spinning off into the Deep Space of the pavement like wayward space badgers – and because this ‘queue’ looked so slapdash, shoddy and slipshod, I asked one of the dawdlers, ‘Excuse me, is this the queue?’

His response was an unfriendly ‘Well we’re not standing here for the fun of it.’

At which point I again forgot the fact that I am actually a very placid person, and drew my sword, drove it through his heart and screamed in his face:

Well, I didn’t actually slay him, but I did say most of those words in an extremely murderous tone, the ignorant queue-disrespecting dick.

Happily, I’m not the only one who has had instances of losing it in lockdown.

A very good friend of mine told me the heart-warming story of her pushing her baby through a park the other day when, and I quote, ‘an egg-faced ham of a man and his smug-nosed pierced twat of a daughter’ approached up the path behind her, encroaching on the sacred two-metre realm around my chum, and she was forced to move the buggy out of the way while they heinously brushed past her, causing her to experience a solid gold loss of all decorum and scream after them:

After which she burst into tears.

So I don’t feel so bad about my public outbursts, I’m sure we’ll all lose it during lockdown and say and do things we don’t mean at some point, won’t we? You snivelling bunch of toads.

 

Stay healthy, stay home and look after each other xx

Becky says things about … home workouts

Greetings isolators!

So, the sun’s out, the air is warm, it’s bank holiday weekend – do you fancy meeting for a few drinks in a pub gard –

– oh.

No.

Forget that.

I don’t mind telling you, I’m annoyed. Until recently, I was enjoying my most successful relationship with a gym in all my 35 years: we were seeing each other regularly, for the most part we enjoyed each other’s company, and I was leaving it aching and sweaty, all good signs of a healthy relationship. I was even starting to see results – you know, those nebulous and much-coveted results that only happen to other people, well they were starting to happen to me! Our relationship was flourishing!

And then we broke up. Not because we had an argument, or I got bored, or the gym started making unreasonable demands about wanting to see me every day, none of that. We broke up because there was a sodding pandemic.

So now I’m locked up in lockdown, but it’s okay, because according to quite a lot of people on the Internet, lockdown doesn’t have to mean my newly cultivated muscles need to melt to sludgy pockets of Malteasers and Cool Original Doritos-oomska, because I can turn my home into a luxury premium workout studio.

Except that I can’t.

Now look, I live in a studio flat. I can reach all parts of my flat in three strides – and I’m talking modest strides, I’m not talking I-just-paid-£8.99-for-an-item-labelled-£15.99 sort of victory strides – and therefore it is not possible to execute the sort of gallopy I’ve-got-so-much-energy-and-the-space-to-accommodate-it exercise routes that are springing up online, because this happens:

And whilst I admire people’s dedication to keeping fit, I’m not sold on the increasingly inventive ways that they are suggesting we use our household items as gym equipment, such as deadlifting the piano, or doing 800 squats with the washing machine strapped to our backs – I mean, as if the emergency services don’t have enough on their plate right now?

What happened to the old ‘if you don’t have any weights at home, a couple of tins of beans will do’? We appear to have donkey-kicked our way straight past that to ‘if you don’t have any weights at home, the kitchen table will do’.

If I were to do the sort of home workout that these crazy cats are encouraging me to do, I cannot begin to imagine the carnage that would ensue from using three chairs to do push ups –

– or from using the radiator to do pull ups –

– or from using the toilet to do step-ups.

And there is another school of thought that encourages us to replace gym equipment with family members; you know, those cute videos of buff dads bench pressing their three year-olds. Well, that’s all very heartwarming – you’re working out really effectively and spending quality time with your child, you absolute winner – but what if you don’t have a three year-old?

And what if you live alone? With social distancing it’s not even acceptable to take measures that would otherwise be perfectly 100% acceptable.

 

SEVEN MINUTES LATER 

 

I suppose as I don’t have any small children lying around, I could use Billy Bear and Huggy Bear as weights.

Sod all this, I’m going to turn my flat into a premium luxury Easter egg haven instead.

Stay healthy, stay home, and look after each other xx

Becky says things about … whatever happened to the panic buyers?

Greetings isolators!

So, done anything exciting in the last few days? Been anywhere nice, done some socialising with a massive group of mates, been down the pub for good old knees up, taken in a show, been to the cinema?

No of course you haven’t.

So as we reach the end of Week 2, it would appear that those industrious folk who spent the last few weeks buying enough provisions to allow a team of Arctic explorers to live like Kings for at least a decade, have either all realised it is possible to eat and exist normally during a pandemic if they just shopped and behaved normally, or they have exploded.

So now the rest of us who briefly subsisted on the nutrients gleaned from licking the moss that grows round our doorstep can now eat food again! Hurrah!

I even got eggs yesterday. Eggs! Clearly all those people who felt they simply had to buy all the eggs have now registered their Guinness Book of Records entry for ‘Largest Omelette Ever Made Using Unnecessarily Purchased Eggs’, or realised they had enough eggs to do whatever they needed all the eggs to do.

And the loo roll is back, mostly. The people who felt they had no choice but to buy it all have obviously realised that their expectation of how 847 toilet rolls would help them during a pandemic didn’t quite match the reality.

EXPECTATION: 

 

 

REALITY:

And drugs! I can buy paracetamol again for those pesky virus-induced hangovers, and one can only assume that the people who previously took the difficult decision to buy all of the paracetamol have now either developed a solid addiction to painkillers, or are having a lovely time in a drugged-up haze where there is no such thing as a virus and where things are actually quite delightful.

Baked beans are back, thank God, although they seemed to make a relatively quick recovery from the panic buying, presumably because the people who bought and ate 329 tins of beans realised they didn’t actually need to buy and eat 329 tins of beans, and they realised this the first time they shat themselves.

There are still some items that are clearly much coveted, and whilst people may not be panicking so much, there still remain those slightly perspiring folk who head straight for the pasta in a calm and controlled manner, but who would slice open your throat if you took the last packet of macaroni, and this is either because they are ardently carb-loading for all this home exercise they’re now doing, or they have other uses for it.

Flour is also still an elusive luxury. This is presumably because all the people who didn’t feel compelled to buy all the bread have been forced into a ghastly Victorian purgatory of baking their own, while all the people who did buy all the bread have now put on 6 stone, given themselves buttered toast-induced diabetes, and have spent every night for the past week trying to discreetly dispose of 17 tons of mouldy bread.

And one fascinating little anthropological titbit has revealed itself down one aisle of the supermarkets: there is only a small and extremely exclusive number of humans who like Heinz Oxtail soup. Fortunately, I am one of them.

Stay healthy, stay home, and look after each other xx