The second lockdown is a chance to get it right – so I’m taking a new approach | Emma Beddington | Opinion

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Do you recall, several lifetimes ago, Donald Tusk urging the UK: “Please do not waste this time,” after the Brexit extension in April 2019? The government did the polar opposite, lurching from the grisly Tory leadership contest to the prolonged parliamentary recess and proroguing shenanigans, then the election, all punctuated by wearisome outbreaks of Jacob Rees-Moggery and absurd policy initiatives from the Dominic Cummings blue-sky thinking whiteboard. I feel exhausted just typing that.

I was reminded of that this year as the government was again urged repeatedly – this time by doctors, epidemiologists and anyone with half a brain and the energy to continue banging their head against a brick wall – to use its time wisely and exploit the window of opportunity provided by lockdown and lower case numbers to fix test and trace. Of course, it has done nothing of the sort, so England finds itself slumping wearily into a late, grim second lockdown.

Fairness demands, however, that I also question my own preparedness. We all knew this was coming, not just the government. Have I used the time wisely, bustling around like a Beatrix Potter character to prepare a cosy, healthy and well-equipped winter? Or have I, too, wasted it, watching videos of porcupines eating biscuits?

A quick survey of the Beddington homestead reveals that none of the inmates have “used the time wisely” to tidy or recycle the teetering mountain of food containers, cardboard and abortive exam revision materials. Our provisions stockpile amounts to nothing more exciting than some Doritos and more butternut squashes than anyone cares to deal with (the curse of winter vegetable box deliveries).

Admin-wise, the picture is even worse: no one has opened any post for months (it looks so dull) and three out of four household members have forgotten their pin numbers. In a cursory nod to health and fitness, I did acquire a foam roller, but so far it functions only as a trip hazard.

In summary, I am entering this second huis clos in an on-brand state of moderate squalor, logistical chaos and apathy, but as a world authority on rodent Instagram accounts.

Despite this, I want to do better this time around: after all, when else in life do we get a chance for a do-over? With the second lockdown, we have a chance to get it right, albeit with half the daylight and none of the confidence or optimism of the first version.

Thankfully, I think most of us are bringing radically lowered expectations to the table: a good day will be one with a manageable supermarket queue and no devastating news. That goes for personal goals, too: any illusions about what we would do with more time on our hands (learn the trombone or Russian subjunctive, perhaps) have been crushed – and that is fine. If we do nothing more ambitious than smash our custard-cream-eating records, it would still be a good lockdown, because we are keeping each other safe.

There are honourable exceptions to the collective underachievement: I love the wholesome tale of Tony Mortimer, from 90s pop rascals East 17, who has catalogued his literary journey from tweeting he was “reading my first ever novel lol” in April to having read 63 and started writing his own by October.

I am no Mortimer, though. With no time to waste, I am reduced to stealing ideas to improve my second lockdown. It is too late to get into gardening – garden centres are overrun – and I have no space (or, frankly, inclination) to join the model railway craze. Instead, I am following the author Naomi Alderman’s suggestion of acquiring and opening multiple Advent calendars “full of unusual small daily treats” from now until March. My inner Calvinist thinks an Advent calendar should feature nothing more than austere bible verses; my inner sybarite is winning and eyeing up fancy chocolates and stationery.

My other favourite idea comes from my sister, who is locked down in Paris. Recently, she informs me, her neighbours have been participating in a few cheery minutes of communally shouting expletives about President Macron at 9pm every night (“Macron enculé,” apparently). Forget rainbows and clapping; who is joining me in a nightly “swear at Boris”?

Hafta Ichi
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: The second lockdown is a chance to get it right – so I’m taking a new approach | Emma Beddington | Opinion

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