Seconds Out, Round Two

Overall, it must be said, as a population, given that we’d never experienced anything like this before, I think we handled the first lockdown pretty well. Of course, there were anomalies, some surreptitious mass gatherings, the odd moron thinking the whole pandemic was a hoax and ignoring the guidelines, and those of us needing an eye test foolishly not realising that correct government procedure was to drive to Barnard Castle. But generally speaking, the country came together, showed support and kept each other buoyant. I’d say eight out of 10.

But that leaves room for improvement. So, if we’re going to be faced with a second wave and a resulting second lockdown, how can we do it better, how can it be easier for us as individuals to get through another long period stuck at home, trying desperately, once again, not be driven up the walls, round the bend and, eventually, mad?

No, I’ve no idea either, but you never know, these might help.

Lose weight
It’s been widely documented that those of us who are overweight are at greater risk of suffering the severe effects of coronavirus – including death, which, not to get too scientific, is really quite severe indeed. What’s more, it’s also been commonly reported that we’re likely to be heavier now than we were at the beginning of lockdown, with around half of us gaining the “Covid Stone” during lockdown, due to sports being off the table, and exercise options limited to a small range, from the unappealing to the absolutely no way. I myself have seemingly swapped exercise for cheese. And whilst I try and convince myself that I’m “supporting the local economy” by buying cheese (and soon a new belt), my joints and organs don’t seem to focus on that philanthropic aspect of my increasing girth as much as how they have to work that much harder when I (eventually) decide to get off the sofa.

So, it is with this extra weight that many of us will confront the second wave if and when it arrives, which immediately puts us in a worse position than we were in when met with the initial outbreak. Consequently, we should all be listening to Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Dr Jenny Harries, when she urges us to slim down ahead of a possible second wave, in order to, well, carry on living. And with that in mind, I’m off to buy gross rice cakes and see if I can watch five minutes of Joe Wicks without wanting to cut his hair and tell him to stop talking like Russel Brand.

Don’t panic buy!
Remember how people legged it to the shops and went straight for the loo roll, in the weirdest mass-buying event in human history? It seems ages ago now, but that exercise in inexplicable, misguided selfishness must surely be something we learn from. They say hindsight’s a wonderful thing, but this particular example is a painful, cringing peak between our fingers as we look back upon the heartbreaking images such as that of the 79 year old man forlornly checking his shopping list, surrounded by empty shelves.

There was simply no need to buy all those extra loo rolls, what was all the fuss about? What an odd thing to bulk-by anyway – I was far more interested in making sure our cupboards were full of food before I made sure the bog roll stocks were full up: apart from anything else, without the former there’s little need for the latter.

Eggs also seemed to be in short supply, although that is more understandable: I bought most of them to lob through the window of the bongo drumming twat across the road. Yeast and flour, I’m reliably informed, were also hard to get hold of as the entire nation, perhaps unaware the vacant position on the Great British Bake Off had already been filled by Matt Lucas, fancied themselves the new Paul Hollywood – without the piercing blue eyes and creepy adultery.

Don't Panic

Resist the temptation to send on every single “funny” video you receive
As a species we use humour to protect ourselves from the stark realities of danger. It’s natural, it’s funny, and it’s glorious. In moderation. The first couple of videos we saw with someone replacing currency with loo roll, or an exaggerated demonstration of cabin fever: brilliant! Funny, original, some genuine comic relief from the global plight. The 50th video of what is essentially the same joke: no longer funny, original, or remotely welcomed. Yet recipients, desperate to be the one to pass on a video to their group of friends and show how well they’re coping psychologically with the situation, kept forwarding them on: look at my one, look at my one! And I certainly wasn’t immune from such antics, happily forwarding mediocre-at-best skits, effectively saying “look, I have a sense of humour, too!” Well, I say no, Past Simon – stop that!

There’s bound to be the odd “here we go again” meme and video that warrants a smile. But please, I beg you (and I’m including you in that you, Future Simon!), only send something on if it is genuinely funny. Maybe wait until you’ve got enough of them to create a league table, then, ideally just bin the whole table. Or, at best, just send the champion. Apart from anything else, think ahead to the 40th wave – we’ll have nothing left to laugh at, and then we’ll really have to start taking the situation seriously.

Speaking of resisting temptation, please also resist the temptation to keep spouting any of the following massively over-used phrases:

  • unprecedented times
  • new normal
  • stay safe
  • stay alert
  • see you on the other side
  • Boris Johnson’s a bumbling murderous prick

Well, the last one we’re still allowed to say.

Save some shows on Netflix to watch in Round Two
Let’s be honest, terrestrial TV hasn’t done itself any favours in lockdown. I appreciate a lot of films and TV shows have had to cease production, but the phrase “scraping the barrel” frequently comes to mind when looking on BBC or ITV to see what’s on and realising the answer is another load of tedious shit. If it’s not the BBC’s mumbling, bewildering tripe, The Luminaries, it’s ITV continuing with its apparent insistence that Ben Shephard should never be off the TV for more than half an hour at a time.

It’s no surprise then that, even before lockdown most people had subscribed to at least one streaming service, normally either Netflix or Amazon Prime – I’m yet to meet anyone who’s signed up to the laughably inadequate Britbox. Oh yes, for nearly the same price as a channel that provides original programs and new films, why not sign up to a collection of old repeats that are mostly available for free elsewhere? Great business plan! Apologies, I’ve digressed into a mini rant.

Getting back on track, we must try and ensure we’ve not binged everything already, but save some boxsets and films for if we’re going to be stuck at home all day again. Likewise, any games we’ve bought: don’t complete all the jigsaws, don’t ask all the Trivial Pursuit questions, don’t pull a hamstring playing too many games of Twister. We’ve got to have a few little pleasures up our sleeves. So, in case you’ve long since finished Tiger King and Ozark, here are ten recommendations new to Netflix this month.

Get a Zoom Shirt
If, like me, you’re currently at home in front of your computer in an outfit that wouldn’t look out of place in Mugatu’s Derelicte range in Zoolander, then you need what 42% of those who are now working from home already have: a Zoom Shirt. That is, a shirt or blouse or something smart that you have ready at hand, often on the back of your work chair, to quickly don if a Zoom meeting is hastily arranged with your work colleagues.

If you’re feeling really prepared, you could also have a Zoom pirate outfit within arm’s reach in case a quickly organised fancy-dress Zoom quiz is organised with friends. Equally, we shouldn’t be without a Zoom mug of wine, a Zoom bowl of snacks and a Zoom book to read in case the meeting’s dreary.

Make sure you’re with your loved ones when it starts – or not
For many people, particularly those in new relationships when lockdown began, they were suddenly in effect in a long-distance relationship, despite often being just round corner from each other. Love under lockdown can be difficult. So, if we are to experience this all over again, we must try and make sure we’re with who we want to be with when it starts: who we want to spend all our time with, share our meals with, argue about the cleaning with.

With the benefit this time of experience, we’re far better equipped to know who we’d like to spend an enforced amount of time together with, and how it’s likely to pan out. In an unrelated matter, “darling, I’ve just to pop out for about half an hour to eight weeks or so, let me know if the lockdown starts…”

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