Working from home: Confessions of a lockdown
Day One. The Day of Crisps.
It started like this. We’d been sent home from work by a responsible employer who wanted to ensure our safety while trialling the sort of home-working that fitted in with the Government’s strategy to beat Covid-19.
Great. We’d got laptops. We’d got access to a secure internet server. And we’d got video-conferencing so we could swap ideas with colleagues.
But more importantly, we’d got crisps. Vast, family-sized bags of them.
And we no longer had to go to a vending machine to pay 60p a time.
Nor did we have judgemental colleagues peering over our shoulders with glances that read: ‘You really oughtn’t eat three bags of crisps before 9am if you’re looking to boost your immune system and avoid Covid-19. Eat an apple, Bunter’.
Ha. The future was all ours. The future was all Walkers.
Our cupboards were stuffed full – the result of inappropriate binge crisp shopping while other people were in the queue for toilet rolls. More fool them. We’ll open a mobile crisp delivery service before Covid-19 is out.
Lockdown didn’t just give us the guilty pleasure of crisps. It also gave us sofas, rather than desks.
We had vast, spring-loaded chairs into which we could sink while listening to Spotify playlists from 6am until 10pm each day.
Great. We got this. Lockdown here I come. And pass another family pack of Walker’s Sensations – roast chicken and thyme flavour, if you don’t mind.
As we emerge from the first stage of lockdown into the second stage – we’re calling it lockdown-not-lockdown – it’s time to come clean.
Yes, there are pressing issues to decide, like whether we can employ family members as cleaners so that we can see them again without breaking the rules, or whether we can drive to a National Park to hook up with our grandmother in a car park so that we can enjoy social contact, exercise and seeing family members in one delicious hit.
And on that topic, remember that it’s fine to visit the Norfolk Broads, which are only a 350-mile round-trip, but it’s not fine to go near the Brecon Beacons, which are roughly twice as close.
Because they’re in Wales. And we’re not allowed to cross the border. So just apply your Great British Nonsense and everything will be fine.
But I digress. We said it was time to come clean. And it is.
Our Confessions of Lockdown are in – and they don’t make for pretty reading. It’s time to spill – but not the bowl of crisps.
And we promise not to use any confusing charts, blue and red graphs or apprentice-generated Powerpoints as we do...
So we've been asked to reveal our lockdown confessions. And my first thought on hearing this request was that I didn't think I had any. Does that make me a bit boring?
I suppose I am guilty of indulging in a lie-in each morning, making the most of the 30-second commute to the dining table now I know longer have to force myself out of bed to do my daily battle with the M6.
But I've tried to maintain a similar routine to normal when it comes to getting ready for the start of each working day.
I'm still getting showered, washing my hair.... OK, so I admit, I don't always take as much care with drying it, especially on days when it's warm enough to let it do it's own thing naturally, leaving it looking a little on the wild side.
But considering the number of people who have dyed their hair pink or shaved all their locks off out of sheer boredom in recent weeks, this is hardly living on the edge. I struggle to pluck up enough courage to trim a centimetre off my fringe.
For work I am getting dressed in clothes I would be happy to be seen wearing outside, even if it's not my usual officewear, so I'm not sat here typing this in my PJs.
My working hours are pretty much the same with a quick break for something to eat during the middle of the day. Being at home provides us with the opportunity for different lunches to the usual sandwiches that have been prepared the night before.
And our go-to snack for a while was a toastie meaning that the sandwich toaster has been very busy since lockdown began. Unfortunately, we soon realised we needed to ban ourselves from these toasted delights after our cheese consumption rocketed. So I can confess to a short-lived love affair with cheddar and ham toasties.
To an outsider it may appear that I jumped on the baking bandwagon as I've tried out a few new recipes in recent weeks and not being able to get eggs for two weeks made me very grumpy.
It's a good way to pass the time and hopefully, unless something disastrous happens, there will be some tasty treats at the end of it. The blueberry and lemon curd cake and the cherry and sultana biscuits went down very well with my other half.
I've kept on top of the daily exercise apart from on a couple of occasions when the weather hasn't been very appealing - a walk in torrential rain is never going to be fun even if it is your only chance to be outdoors that day.
And I've taken the opportunity to keep in touch with friends and family and we're probably in contact more frequently than we were before life changed for everyone.
There's also been the time to get on top of the life admin you never usually find time to do.
I've not taken up any new random hobbies or tried to learn a new language but I've been quite content with how I've spent my time.
Everybody is different and I think we all have to find a way to get through this time that's right for us so we stay healthy and sane.
March – it can certainly be a month of revelations.
For Julius Caesar, the March of 44BC wasn’t so great.
After 23 stab wounds upon reaching the office one day that month, he came to a somewhat sticky end.
2,024 years later (to the day in fact), my mum and dad got hitched, and it’s fair to say that on more than one occasion since, my father has contemplated his chances in Caesar’s sandals.
40 years later, Covid-19 had reached our shores, and lockdown began – changing life for all of us in the process.
On the first fateful morning of work from home, I walked downstairs to ‘the office’ and marvelled – as many have done – at the drastic reduction in my commute.
It’s important to remain positive, I thought, so why not let a smile creep in.
This may be the biggest if not the only plus point of the entire enterprise.
Though braced for uncomfortable captivity, it wasn’t long before I got into the stride of lockdown. I kept my morning routine pretty rigid – showering, sacrificing my slacks for actual attire and grooming sensibly.
Ok, I may not have embraced my razor to the usual standard or have been so meticulous with the old Barnet, but for all intents and purposes, I was dressed for success.
The last week of March however, had other plans for me.
You see, an old pal and I have a rule, and it’s basically that once St Patrick’s Day is out of the way, it is perfectly acceptable – regardless of temperature or circumstance – for the shorts to come out to play.
Well, I thought, it’d be almost criminal – and certainly very un-British – to break with tradition in these dark days.
And after all, plenty of my shorts are sort of smart, in a Victorian schoolboy sort of way.
So why not? Let’s modify the daily uniform a little!
Oh, how the mighty then fell...
What started with chino shorts and a polo shirt quickly deteriorated. It was harmless enough at first – an extra button dropped here, a day without a shave there. Then by the time we were halfway through April, the boardshorts had come out of semi-retirement, the Hawaiian shirts were rockin’, and the razor had long since departed to a better place.
By the end of April I was beginning to resemble a cross between Grizzly Adams and Tom Selleck à la Magnum P.I. And not (if such a thing is even possible) in a good way.
It came to a crescendo last week during a video meeting with my fellow Weekend Towers cohorts, who marvelled in amusement, wonderment and horror at the lurid pink shirt I had teamed with a particularly questionable pair of camo-print shorts.
“I’m expecting a medallion under there” remarked the ever-learned Mr Richardson. “Go on, drop another button!”
Laughter ensued from all in attendance and, as ever, the steadying hands of the Good Ship Weekend were right – it was time for a look in the mirror.
A DIY trim of the bonce, a resculpture of the beard and a taming of the wardrobe later and I am once again resembling the dapper swashbuckler I usually pride myself on embodying.
But for how long, pray tell...
The lure of lockdown laziness, especially where appearance is concerned, is powerful. And I fully expect that before my return to the Towers Proper, I shall have once again regressed into a Miami-Vice-meets-Stig-ofthe-Dump hybrid.
Still, my wardrobe misadventures have been the least of my sins. You haven’t even heard about the breakfasts yet...
Those, I fear, are a terrible series of tales for a less tumultuous time.
For now, I’m content to marvel at the disastrous effect lockdown has taken on my already questionable sense of style... and of course, laboriously trawl the web for a medallion that will do my new persona justice.
Sorry, we are not accepting comments on this article.