The End of the Beginning – Lockdown, week 6

Sun 26 April – Sat 2 May 2020

In an alternative dimension not only would I have had a week away in Berlin in March but last week I would have been in the North to visit my mother-in-law. Meanwhile, in the dimension we call ‘reality’…

You can start to feel that we are at this current phase of lockdown moving towards its end point. But it is the end of the beginning rather than the beginning of the end. Who knows, within a few months we could be in the second lockdown and refer to the current one as the first lockdown rather than just ‘the lockdown’.

Getting out of lockdown

The debate has moved onto how we get out of the lockdown. The virus is clearly not beaten but we are now trying to work out how we have some sort of new normal in which we exist alongside the viral threat. And when I go out for my exercise, you can see more people on the streets. And, far more sadly, lots more cars. But I still don’t know where they are going. πŸ™

Sadly the world won’t change

There’s a lot of talk about how things will be different in the sense of some sort of new society. Sadly I don’t think that will happen. There will be scarring from the lockdown inevitably such as caution to be in crowded public spaces. But in reality too many people want to go back to where we were. They want to do all the world-destroying things they did before and don’t really want to change. πŸ™

The frail elderly may be the sacrifice

And the people who were most impacted, and who will continue to be, are the old. 90% of people who have died in the UK are over 60. They may well be locked away (shielded) so everyone else can get on with the new normal. Our society has never cared about the frail elderly and is horrified by the situation in care homes. But once the majority can get back to normal, they will overlook what threatens their lifestyles as they did before. πŸ™

Health and Efficiency

Jog-run

As we get to the end of the beginning of the lockdown, I’m delighted to say that I’m finally getting into a regular jog-run pattern. I did two jog-runs last week: Sun and Thurs morning. Ideally my aim is to do jog-runs with a two day rest and recovery gap in between. Didn’t work exactly last week due to weather issues on Wed. Plus also Wednesdays are my very busy, full-work day each week.

animation of a fat man running

4 km done for both jog-runs but with very different times. The Sun one felt slow and I paced each km at around 7 mins. But then on Thurs, it felt easier and I managed to get each km to an average just under 6 mins and 30 seconds. Details here. Exciting that I could use the new running trainers I had ordered; I had worn holes in the old ones. πŸ™‚

Other exercise, sleep and weight

I continue to try to do a daily walk on the days I’m not doing a jog-run or going out to do the shopping. And I’m also continuing to incorporate yoga stretches into my life when I can. But I miss the gym. πŸ™ When / if that opens again is a long way off. Sleep remains OK though waking very early still. A beautiful 3 hour snooze on Sat afternoon. πŸ™‚

Weight scales

I have definitely put weight on; who hasn’t? Just below 13 and a half stones. This represents a gain of 2-3 pounds since the lockdown started. I think primarily due to the lack of general exercise such as walking. The end of the beginning of lockdown must mean starting to get weight off again.

Personal Development

One of the big successes of last week was that I started to get some more personal development done. πŸ™‚ To itemise my success:

  • Regular usage of Duolingo to top-up my language learning. I’m trying to do this during the day rather than at night before I go to sleep. Often I am too tired to do it.
  • Re-engaged with Free Code Camp – a brilliant way to start to learn more about how to code. I don’t think I’ll ever be a coder but I like to know more about it.
  • I’ve also used edX to sign up for a free ‘Introduction to Computer Science’ course. It’s good, I now understand binary. πŸ™‚ Hopefully I will be able to keep it up.
  • Still being savage with work and personal emails either reading, storing or deleting by the end of each day
  • Remaining active on social media. Indeed, it feels like the main way to be able to express opinion at the moment and exchange ideas. Not always a totally constructive medium but I enjoy it.

Books and Reading

‘Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl’ by Andrea Lawlor

I had planned to do so much reading during lockdown. As we come to the end of the beginning, I am disappointed. Finished just one book last week. πŸ™ This is a much lauded contemporary piece of gay literature and it does feel different to many gay books I have read. Set in the early 90s, it’s very much about gender fluidity. Basically it centres on a bisexual (gay?) man called Paul who can change his appearance. In particular, he can become Polly who is a lesbian. So many memories of the period like no smart phones or social media, fanzines, the internet just starting, fear of HIV.

The story takes us from Iowa to Province Town to New York and ends in San Francisco. A cast of weird and wonderful characters. It’s not always easily engaging and you need to approach with a strong element of reading a fantasy. But it’s also a strong first novel and provides plenty of twists and turns. Good fun. πŸ™‚

Work Life Balance

Take days off

Work was busy as usual with the mass of emails, zoom meetings, and phonecalls. I have regularly said in previous blogs that the best way to have a good work life balance is to take time-off. And so on Fri I took a day off which is probably how I was able to make progress on personal development described above. My days off are never totally off i.e. I still check emails but don’t respond to them. But it is clearly less frenetic than normal days.

Farewell to Jen

A sad highlight for last week was saying ‘goodbye’ to Jen who has been a longstanding and key member of my team. A foundation to success at work (and enjoying it) is building successful and functioning teams. Generally we don’t choose our work colleagues but our relationship with them is crucial. Important to make those relationships work and celebrate them. Good luck Jen as she heads towards Scotland eventually – I’m slightly envious.

Planning for post-lockdown

Lots of discussion starting around the end of the beginning of lockdown – how do we re-engage with the workplace and stop being home-based? Though it may well be that the future is being primarily working from home. Clearly some people may want or need to get out of their home and get back to the office. But others of us actually enjoy WFH and / or do not want to take the risk of using overcrowded public transport again.

Will the return to work mean more cars on the road?

There’s also a real danger that employers getting people back to the workspace means more people driving there as a means of avoiding public transport. That inevitably would means more cars on the road. The quiet (goodbye birdsong πŸ™ ) may rapidly be gone with more cars than ever on the roads leading to increased pollution and more road deaths. πŸ™

Family and Friends

Mum

My mum remains well and I continue to phone her twice a day. But the end of the beginning of lockdown makes me more than ever want to be able to see her and stay with her for a bit. Hopefully that time will come fairly soon. My plan is to to walk between her and Dave’s place – safer than public transport and good exercise. Dave’s mum also continues to be well though she used to go out a lot so must be missing that.

Friends

Spanish flag

I did contact a couple of friends. A chat with Jamie, my mate who writes plays in his spare time. He is doing well though, like me, being busier with work stuff by WFH. Then a good phone catch-up with Philip in Spain. They have had a much harder lockdown not being allowed to exercise outside.

Art and Culture

A bit like with Personal Development, I finally made some progress in this area. πŸ™‚ Not a huge amount but some in that I used my BFI subscription to watch some gay short films. I really enjoy short films and always try to go for them at film festivals. Although others feel the same and they are often sold out quickly. A few Spanish ones and a French one, good though generally similar themes of coming out and death. Gay films can often be in a rut as much as gay lit.

The Week Ahead

  • Taken to heart my message about pacing myself. Have booked Wed off as leave and Fri is a bank holiday so only 3 (busy) half days in work next week. πŸ™‚
  • Going to try to get 2 jog-runs done and start to push down my weight again through checking my food intake
  • Will continue my personal development wins and also try to watch some more movies
  • Keeping in regular contact with mum and some of my friends
  • Finish my current reading book (‘The Heavens’ by Sandra Newman – it’s good) and then start a new one
  • Might join the Velvet Page Zoom meet on Thurs though I haven’t read the book (‘The Lost Language of Cranes’ by David Leavitt) πŸ™

And Finally…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.