For over a year, we have been in lockdown in varying degrees. Never would I have imagined that working from home would be the norm, that my work outfits would gather dust, that I would have Skype business calls wearing my bunny slippers, that I would forget how to use mascara and I would learn to paint my nails in Lockdown Blue without smudges.
It has been a year of getting Brexit “done”, discovering face masks and hand sanitiser, and taking the train from Putney village to Waterloo and back just to go somewhere. In this time, I have found fresh grey hairs, grown my hair to the longest it has ever been, cut my fringe 6 times (I can just hear the hairdresser begging me not to do this again) and walked Ivy with Husband through parks, estates and quiet village streets. While I have read books about squirrels, a dog’s nose, The Donald, London paramedics, the Queen’s dresser and a Lady in Waiting, I have not taken the grand leap of learning to switch the cooker on (Husband can do this), using an iron (Husband can do this) and driving a vehicle on London roads (Husband can do this). Instead, I am learning to speak Welsh which is far easier than any of the aforementioned with its soft mutations, 7 vowels and conjugated prepositions.
In this time, we have discovered BBC iPlayer, watched hundreds of programmes about Victorian sewers with fat bergs, Bargain Brits in the sun/Spain (how do they manage with those teeth?), Roman roads across England, fly-tipping and fare dodgers. We have sat on the sofa on Sundays watching Spitting Image’s Boris and Jonathan Pie on YouTube, and had a good laugh and a sigh at the same time. Home deliveries of whatever you can imagine come fast and furiously, and at times we need a white board to remember when the cat biscuits arrive, if Ivy’s collars will arrive this week, if Husband’s tools will be delivered during work hours and if the soya candles will arrive in time for Earth Hour.
We finally gave away the cream SMEG kettle that we had dragged to the UK 2 years ago, we have had 3 microwaves during lockdown (I must remember to put something in the microwave before pushing “start”) and at last we have a home printer that has been a godsend but which frightens the sleeping cat every time a printed page pops out of the feeder. We filed our first HMRC tax returns with the strangest year end of 5 April and we were vaccinated in a local Catholic church.
The year has seen the cat, Italy, plagued with a blocked nose and on steroids to stop him sneezing some very nasty stuff, while Ivy has had numerous vet visits for what the vet calls a “funky claw” i.e. a dewclaw that keeps getting infected. In this time, I applied for a new UK passport, going from a maroon to a blue passport cover, and the process from start to finish took 8 days. It took 6 weeks to get the required application forms for my expired SA passport sent to me from across the Thames in my own self-addressed and prepaid envelope. That was in November and I am not much further in getting a new SA passport.
We moved flat in August last year, which meant packing, donating, acquiring, selling and online shopping. It also meant a new day-care for Ivy in Surrey which has turned-out to be a delight with weekly day-care photos of her in the mud or playing in the long green grass. It was while living in our new little flat that in January, we watched the snow-flakes fall and Ivy leap into the snow for the first time. It was here that Husband started his electrician business, sharing stories with me of volts, amps and all sorts of acronyms that leave me perplexed and grateful that the tools of my trade are legal words.
Our highlight apart from getting our first vaccine jabs and the snow, was going to the Isle of Wight in that rare opening-up of the economy during the pandemic. I type this blog holding thumbs and paws that our trip just across the English border into Wales will go ahead but that depends on politics, vaccines, mutations of COVID, science and people. Whatever happens, if there is one thing the pandemic has done, it has levelled the playing field and we feel like we Belong.