SARAH BUITENDACH: What kind of lockdowner are you?
Some feel like they’re living a contemporary simulation of life on Alcatraz; for others, it’s sheer bliss
There are two types of lockdown personalities.
The first are those who view the ever-expanding number of forced days at home as inhumane punishment. They’re living a contemporary simulation of life on Alcatraz – where the walls seem to be growing closer. Their minds are numb, their muscles atrophying, and fellow inmates are vexing. They’re dreaming lucidly about driving into the office car park and of coffee shops with overly chirpy baristas. They achieve all their weekly Strava cycling goals on their indoor trainer by Monday lunchtime, and are now struggling to stay buoyant in a directionless, unknowable sea.
Second, there are those natural homebodies who couldn’t tell you what day of lockdown we’re on. They probably haven’t achieved much over the past three weeks but are supremely happy just doing this and that. They think it’s adorable that the kids climb on them during Zoom meetings and they’ve probably got halfway through a puzzle. They snooze, they read, they watch a series, they forward a meme, they snooze some more.
I am the self-appointed queen of the latter. The grand high priestess of pottering about. I have been practising for years. Even before it was mandated, a weekend in my flat, lying in and reading the papers, having a long bath and not unlocking the front door for two days seemed a grand idea. Working from home is my desired state. A wee spot of brunch with friends is undeniably pleasant, but bombing out in the sun on the balcony – now there’s a thing! I don’t want to gloat, but I’m pretty damn fine right now.
Once, in the days when dating was still possible, I briefly saw a man who said he could never lie in after 7.30am. He needed to get up and out of the house. To do something. Anything. He said he got bored easily. I thought it made him sound boring. How could he not find interest and amusement in the minutiae of life? The doing nothing? He must be climbing the walls right now. Thankfully, for both of us, they are not mine.
If you’re finding the tedium of your trips between Nespresso machine and couch stifling, read this piece by The New Yorker on life in space or on a submarine. The underwater saga is especially fascinating. In the 1960s the crew of the US nuclear missile-deploying submarine Growler spent stints of 70 days in their watertight workplace. Some of them even “hot-bunked”. It makes our current situation sound like a Cele-sanctioned walk in the park.
It also goes a long way to explaining why for many years, on the other side of the pond, the UK’s nuclear submarines were festooned in the feverishly patterned fabrics of England’s arts and crafts god, William Morris. “Tudor Rose”, as the material was known, echoed throughout the vessels to make their cooped-up inhabitants feel at home – and remind them of English country gardens. How’s that for a deeply patriotic Jedi mind trick on behalf of the Royal Navy and its designers? For more on the topic (and some great modern context) read a 2016 piece from the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.
Of course, this is the kind of mad trivia us homebodies can lose days to. You begin by googling which countries administered the BCG vaccine during the 20th century and by 2pm you’re an expert on TikTok dances. Which, by the way, are terribly en vogue with this season’s Covid-19 cool crowd, not just teenagers. Instead of buffing up on maritime trivia, fill the dead hours with learning the moves yourself. The Cut did a good round-up of your options.
Not your bag? How about some gentle crafting? Don’t snigger – making blankets and samplers is not just the domain of stitch and bitch circles, it’s also deeply therapeutic and useful in crisis situations. The Atlantic assistant editor Rosa Inocencio Smith explains why – and even offers some crafting tutorials for you to try your nimble hands at. Hey, I’ve been embroidering the same pillowcase for 6 years, so any attempt has got to be better than that …
*Buitendach is FM Life editor and the editor of Wanted magazine
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