How do you plan a birthday in coronavirus lockdown?

Beatrix and Mike Clark enjoying a birthday dinner courtesy of a generous friend. Picture: Beatrix Cl

Beatrix and Mike Clark enjoying a birthday dinner courtesy of a generous friend. Picture: Beatrix Clark - Credit: Beatrix Clark

As lockdown, by and large, continues, Beatrix Clark muses on brain fog and finding things to which she can look forward.

Here we still are, officially now able to see one friend at a distance (good) and enjoy unlimited time outside (okay but much as I love the park I don’t need to spend seven hours a day there). Some can now go back to work – I haven’t quite worked out whom - but aside from that things feel much the same as they’ve felt since lockdown started.

As this lackluster existence continues I’m noticing various unwelcome side effects. The first is brain fog, causing seemingly simple tasks to take forever or be forgotten entirely, which is strange given that we’ve never had so much time on our hands, but with pre-Covid routines out the window and motivation at an all-time low, how are we supposed to find the will to deal with house insurance, our sock drawer or British Gas? All of which have been on my to-do list for weeks.

Shopping habits too have taken a peculiar turn; usually in May I would be analysing this season’s FitFlops but instead I’ve been analysing fingertip oximeters on a quest to find one that a) doesn’t come from China (impossible) and b) will arrive before July.

As for getting through to airlines and tour operators – challenging at the best of times – this is nigh-on impossible, and attempting to decipher their coronavirus frequently asked questions as frustrating as trying to buy baking powder.

My husband did finally manage to speak to a human at Ryan Air, only to be told they are dealing with 25 million refund enquiries and can’t guarantee a response. Clearly the travel industry is having a torrid time and our thwarted holiday plans are insignificant in the grand scheme of things, but the lack of anything pleasurable to look forward to and growing realisation that 2020 – heralded as a year of hope and new beginnings - is basically cancelled, aren’t exactly mood enhancing.

And just when we thought we’d put Brexit divisions behind us to collectively fight Covid-19, a new split is emerging between those who think restrictions should be significantly lifted and those who don’t – exacerbated by the fact that politicians usually so sure of themselves seem almost as clueless as the rest of us about the best way forward.

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We did however enjoy a lockdown highlight on my husband’s birthday thanks to a hugely generous friend who had arranged delivery of dinner for two from a West End restaurant. We dressed up for the first time in weeks, drank too much and danced to our lockdown playlist - Don’t Stand Too Close, Stayin’ Alive and Captain Tom’s You’ll Never Walk Alone included. A party for two isn’t normally how we’d celebrate but life at the moment isn’t normal and what a release it was to let our hair down.

Relinquishing the plans that drive us isn’t easy but right now trying to plan anything is as futile as hoping for a good hair day or a video call that doesn’t start with ten minutes of someone (usually me) faffing around with the password. We can but be cheered by thoughtful gestures, laugh at some of the weirdness, boogie in the dining room and wait patiently for the world to re-open for business.