How has lock down life been for you?  Pure hell? Lonely? Boring? An eight week long “Is it time for a G and T yet?”.  Have you taken up baking? Joined Grayson Perry’s art club? Learnt a foreign language? Had quality time with your nearest and dearest? Or wanted to catapult them into the stratosphere? 

Listen to the Audio version of this blog post, read by Dawn Lister herself

What about work? Are you still having to go in? Or have you joined the great army of PJ workers. Sitting in your new home office aka the bed, coffee on the bedside table, hair tied up in a scrunchy, laptop balanced on your knees.  For more formal days, when you may have to “Zoom” into a meeting, hair is combed, root around for a bra somewhere in the laundry pile paired with a nice smart top.  Bottom half, joggers or PJ’s and bare feet with obligatory chipped nail polish and feet screaming for a pedicure.

The bed office is a growing trend, not entirely sure it’s a good one, having your laptop set up by the bed makes it just too damn handy to remember to send or reply to that outstanding email, at any time of day or night.  Hardly conducive to a night of romance.  “Hold fire darling, hold that thought right there, let me reply to this email from my client and I’ll be right with you.  Can’t relax and get all jiggy with those notifications pinging away.”

Working in my PJ’s has become an actual thing for me, partly because I was poorly, so was doing the bare minimum to keep things ticking over, a few hours of administrative work then back to sleep, cough, sleep and repeat.  And partly because all sense of structure and motivation had left the building along with my lycra leggings, busy diary and set meal times. Now it’s food and tea on tap in bed, with online meditations, YouTube to listen to inspirational talks, Netflix for drivel and I was SET UP!

As I improved, my day began to look like this; roll out of bed, make a nice coffee, sit either on the sofa and look out into the garden or sit in the garden and look at the garden.  Let several minutes (which became hours) pass and then turn on the laptop.  Do a couple of hours of admin. Get irritated by my appalling internet connection, begin to swear a lot and devise a plan where I could let go of all technology, including phones and TV as the news and pretty much anything I looked at was starting to annoy the tits off me.  Wi-Fi clearly was just sent to mess with my mental health so that had to go, even the fridge was playing silly buggers and beeping all hours of day and night.  Who knew fridges had buttons on the front that needed fiddling with? For all I know, Elon Musk has designs on my fridge and other household appliances. I started a Pinterest board on simple living, watching Netflix and Amazon Prime documentaries on living in nature, permaculture, technology free living and alternative lifestyles. 

This insane time was clearly telling me I needed to become a hermit, live on a secluded piece of land surviving on foraged food, nature, well water and sunshine.  Now all I had to do was persuade the husband it might be a good idea. 

Every time the family came into the room hands over mouths, gingerly offering me beverages and food, if I was awake I would moan about the lack of connection to wifi, making it harder for me to do my job from the new “bed office”, or if I was in a poorly slumber grunt and ask for tea and rich teas and to be left alone to die in peace.  Or if I was feeling more social, grumble about why no one came in to see me and how lonely I was.  

Day 10 of lockdown came and I started to feel better, the cough was gone, I could stand up without feeling faint, I had a surge of energy so up I popped to a house that needed, in my opinion, a deep clean. Cupboards, doors, floors, washing had of course not been done to my pre Covid standard so the first few days out of bed the cleansing of the house took place.  Izzy my middle sprocket joined me in the frantic clean up and within two days, after much grumbling (mine), sweating and endless teas with rich tea biscuits for substance, the house was sparkling.  

Well, for a day or so anyway.  

Life found a nice rhythm.  Leisurely start to the day, alarms are for losers.  Plenty of time for my formal morning meditation practise to resume.  On and on as the practise feel into a sense of timeless bliss and love, “All is well in the world, I can hear birdsong, no rushing about, I am totally happy and at peace.” Sometimes I continued to meditate in bed on the days when the virus kicked back in. It’s like a bad penny, popping up just when you thought it had buggered off.  Then I would water the garden in my PJ’s.  Answer emails.  Potter around the house looking for things to clean, tutting at the state of surfaces, no one cleans up properly, wipe, wash, dry, then check! What is wrong with people? Honestly. Then have a nap. I am recovering from Covid after all, so naps are obligatory. Obviously. Lunch. Tea and rich teas. Joking, I ate soup also – lots of soup – and green foods, lots of green foods, I started peeing green coloured wee. Sorry, that was TMI wasn’t it? And then rich teas, I rediscovered my love of the rich tea in lockdown. Prefer a rich tea to any other biscuit, it’s honest, doesn’t pretend to be all fancy, it dunks well and if you want, you can fit a whole one in your mouth and let it dissolve. Delicious. Then I would remember to wash, and brush my teeth, got round to that eventually, around 2 or 3 pm. After all, what is the urgency when there is no one to raise their eyebrows if you are in your comfies, or wrinkle their nose if your breaths smells like an old sewer?  

Afternoons, spent in the garden again, God am I lucky to have my tiny little courtyard garden, the way I bang on about it you’d think it was Hyde Hall, with borders and water features, and walkways, instead of a tiny courtyard with abundant blooms, grasses, decorative grasses, and a teeny tiny water feature that breaks down once a week.  But hells bells it’s our saviour.  A delicious sun trap, with two old, old apple trees that twist and turn like the old dears they are, trunks bent and ancient, telling the story of a century of growing and dying, growing and dying.  

Birds love our little plot, especially since lockdown and the addition of bird feeders, Norm, our angry, permanently pissed off Scotty dog who is also ancient and arthritic, loves to chase the birds away, barking up a storm each time a black bird or starling appears. He seems happy for robins and blue tits to make their appearance on the old trees looking for a feast, ut black birds, and incidentally black dogs are definitely the enemy. 

Tea and rich teas. 

Throughout the day the girls do workouts in the garden, lifting weights, star jumps, squats, getting all red and blotchy, go for runs, eat endless amounts of broccoli and plan on getting the best ever workout bodies. 

I drink tea, eat rich teas, and watch them in admiration. 

Evening arrives and Mr G arrives home and disappear into his study to practise and then post his lockdown facebook performance.  He is a part time musician, out of retirement for lockdown.  Eventually he posts his chosen piece. Mostly I have no idea who they are, as I literally knew three bands growing up; Abba, Deacon Blue and The Beautiful South, none of which he has been too keen to play. Obviously too challenging for him.

9pm arrives, and its night-night for me.  My Kindle broke just before lockdown and it seems an extravagance to buy a new one, so reading is limited to the many books, worthy ones I have bought over the years that I never finished, as they were too worthy, I find them wonderful for helping me to drop off. 

Then after a good night’s kip it starts again, who knows what day it is, who cares, the sun is shining, I am tired and weak but other than that, came out of Covid pretty well.  My energy levels are appalling, and most of my motivation has buggered off but I find that I really enjoy the slow pace of life. After a few weeks, I stopped watching the news, same old story being spat out over and over again, the Government didn’t really seem to be on it, more reactive than proactive and that started to irritate me. So I checked in every few days to hear their version of what was happening. Other than that, life has found a weird quite peaceful kind of rhythm.  

I have always spoken about slowing down, easing back and seeing less clients, having time to spend at home, to bake bread. I have made two loaves in lockdown, they were flipping lovely, lasted about half an hour as we inhaled them instantly.  

My pre-lockdown fantasy was chilling at home, reading, drawing, gardening, meditating, seeing the family, going for long walks, writing for my online courses I never got round to doing as was so busy doing face to face work, with maybe a nice holiday a few times a year. 

So lockdown life is actually my fantasy life. I think it’s not my bank balance’s fantasy life. But once you stop going out for coffee and lunches or buying crap you don’t need, it’s surprising how much money you save, how little you need to live on.  I come back to my idea of the hermitage, which is still not being received well.  “We could live on practically nothing I tell you, peanuts if we got rid of Sky, Netflix, Amazon Prime and grew our own veg.”

Every time I suggested this, I could hear from the kid’s rooms, “We are NOT getting rid of Sky or Netflix, I will die! Or move out.”  

Moving out is always an option guys.  Not sure hermitage life is suited to my family.  

But truly, the anxiety many have spoken of and fear and the sense of isolation haven’t really been there for me.  Not because I am some kind of evolved being, more because I think A) I was so ill and still so exhausted I’m really happy to just poodle along for a while whilst I find the energy again, 

B) I practise and have practised for 30 years mindful meditation and therefore am able to stay present, not project, accept what is arriving in the moment and bring compassion to the situation.  These skills have been life changing for me in many situations, this one no exception, and 

C) I was raised in a cult that believes the end of the world is nigh, any day, any moment God and his avenging angels are about to attack and destroy most of the inhabitants of the world. Only the true believers will remain, unharmed ready to rebuild a world free from fornicators, adulterators, homosexuals, thieves, liars, greedy people, murders, the list goes on.  

I learnt from childhood to prepare for imminent disaster, I have incredible coping skills and I spent the first 17 years of my life basically “being no part of this world”, “this world” being us lot, the unbelievers.  I was pretty set up for isolation; no friends outside the faith, no social gatherings other than with those within the faith, no interpersonal relationships with unbelievers. Don’t accumulate wealth, live frugally, instead spend your energy on converting the unbelievers and live forever in the new world, post Armageddon.  

So, all in all, having been well and truly prepared for the destruction of millions at the hand of all powerful angels with huge flaming swords, a pandemic is not so bad.  

The cult prepared us believers for all kinds of horrors and torture likely to be meted out by the unbelievers in a vain attempt to make us want to leave the path of righteousness, nothing like the threat of death and torture to make you to scared to stay faithful.  We where fed stories of starvation, abuse (verbal and physical), isolation from each other and the community.  The horrors of the upcoming righteous war were laid bare for us all as we grew up. Finger nail pulling, rape, parents screaming in agony from the next room as the wicked unbelievers attempted to torture them into denying their god.  Childhood stories where even darker than the Grim Fairy Tales.

The fear of the second death; this is to die with no hope of coming back post Armageddon, the final war that God will wage on us wicked ones.  If we, as God’s chosen people, chose to leave the cult then we will die with no hope of eternal life or resurrection, no hope of salvation, and most likely die a more painful death than we could ever have imagined. And our poor family will have to witness that all.  

The cult now has their members on standby, grab bags at the ready in case the call comes if someone sees a glimpse of a flaming sword in the sky. Then, messages will be sent to the true believers via text, a secret location revealed (likely their Kingdom Halls) and off they will tootle to hide out, until God has done his dirty deed of mass destruction.  

I did snigger a little when I heard this, after all a grab bag sounds simply ludicrous. But I also felt sad that millions of people are living in fear of a God that in my experience, isn’t vengeful, or angry, or bent on genocide.  My experience of God is different; a sense of connectedness with all beings, a love of life and nature and our planet, a feeling of being in it all together, God to me is in us all and even in the midst of this horror, we can reach our own God in the way that brings us comfort best.  

My mind went straight to rich teas then, but for me God is in my garden, my kids, my step kids and step grandkids, my husband, in my community and in me.  

So really, a nasty germ that may kill me sounded pretty crap, but no worse than torture, murder or eternal death at the hands of God’s army.  

I have found myself pretty chilled about the whole thing, accepting of what is our current reality and knowing it will end. The world might look different, but it won’t be Armageddon, it might be very, very frightening for many of us as our livelihoods suffer and we have to choose a different path, or adjust our lifestyles significantly.  

I have compassion for us all as we go through it.  Day by day sending love and kindness in word and action as best I can in my PJ’s and from my garden, absolutely aware how flipping blessed I am and how easy I have it compared to many.  

So kick back, fall into love with yourself and your loved ones, with the whole damn world and if you fancy a rich tea or ten, knock yourself out.