Coronavirus: Family life in lockdown means home haircuts and the hunt for powdered ogbono

Mike Clark's hair was given a lockdown trim by his son Oli. Picture: Beatrix Clark

Mike Clark's hair was given a lockdown trim by his son Oli. Picture: Beatrix Clark - Credit: Beatrix Clark

Columnist Beatrix Clark look at the ups and downs of family life in lockdown.

Mike Clark's hair was given a lockdown trim by his son Oli. Picture: Beatrix Clark

Mike Clark's hair was given a lockdown trim by his son Oli. Picture: Beatrix Clark - Credit: Beatrix Clark

When Boris announced the UK lockdown on March 23 (was it really that recently?) there existed a faint glimmer of hope that three weeks might mean just that. Far from it. We’ve had one extension and though uncertainty about the future still prevails it’s clear we won’t be accessing the fun stuff anytime soon.

Some people – quite a few according to a recent survey – aren’t bothered, in fact they’re so enjoying the cleaner air, time in nature, and stronger social bonds they don’t want life to return to ‘normal’ (the same survey, mind you, revealed that 61 per cent of people are spending less. Well of course they are, there’s nowhere to go!).

I’m with them – who wouldn’t be? - on the cleaner air and community spirit, and the trees, I agree, are looking splendid. I’m also loving the lack of traffic (though it’s definitely building up again), and the lack of traffic wardens even more so – let’s hope they stay home for as long as possible. And I’m loving that our son and daughter now each cook supper once a week and we all share the odd game of Boggle.

But for the majority this lockdown lark isn’t getting any easier.

Beatrix Clark. Picture: Beatrix Clark

Beatrix Clark. Picture: Beatrix Clark - Credit: Beatrix Clark

The dismay and disbelief we experienced initially at seeing our lives so dramatically altered overnight has morphed into resignation punctuated with anxiety.

We’ve grown used to queueing outside supermarkets (never has this household consumed so much food) only to find they’ve run out of eggs and flour. We’re becoming accustomed to mad hair, to our hands looking wrinkled and raw from constant soap and sanitizer, and to only ever wearing leggings and trainers. We’re even growing resigned to the grim prospect that facemasks in public could become mandatory – please God not those black ones that look like a snout. All changes which may be necessary in the fight against coronavirus but are hardly uplifting.

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As a family we continue, individually and together, to find a way through.

My husband watches Trump’s nightly briefings for their entertainment value (no Dettol has yet been ingested), my daughter’s interviewing mental health gurus for an online radio slot aptly named Isolation Station, our son is perfecting his barber skills and I’m procuring hitherto unknown items - powdered ogbono and puna yam anyone? - in my role of volunteer shopper (African ingredients in case you’re wondering – I might try them myself if this goes on much longer).

Some of this is positive and rewarding but it doesn’t stop us from missing our friends, feeling scared about what the impact of this global meltdown will be on our children’s futures or from having the odd meltdown ourselves. Perhaps, though, we will emerge more resilient and adaptable, determined to hang onto the positive aspects whilst still enjoying holidays, high heels and the pub. If we can get back our old lives slightly simplified and less frenetic, with no face masks and a few more family dinners – ogbono at the ready - some good might result from the Coronavirus crisis. Here’s hoping.

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