‘My husband goes to a virtual pub and my daughter’s learning Arabic’ – family settles into coronavirus lockdown

Beatrix Clark. Picture: Beatrix Clark

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

Journalist and Hampstead resident Beatrix Clark discusses going from liberty to lockdown.

If someone had told me three months ago that I’ll be spending a sizeable chunk of this year holed up with my family, with no prospect of visiting a cinema, theatre, restaurant, pub or gathering of any kind until God knows when while a new virus causes global meltdown, I’d have told them to get a grip and stop watching so much Black Mirror.

Yet here we are, with empty streets and empty diaries, wondering how we’ll wipe our bottoms and what we’ll watch on Netflix a few weeks from now when decent quality content has been exhausted.

Or how we’ll stay sane without the gym, the hairdresser, the people and places that make our lives tick.

I speak as one of the lucky ones, with, touch wood (yes Boris I’ll wash my hands afterwards), no underlying health conditions, elderly relatives to worry about or young children to home school.

I work from home already, a home which, fortunately for its four inhabitants (five if you count Cleo the cat), is large enough for us all to enjoy our own space when necessary.

These are blessings for which I’m genuinely grateful, but still, for this family as for most, adjusting to the new reality of our coronavirus world won’t be easy.

Our children, delightful company most of the time, are nonetheless young adults with opinions and routines of their own which do not always chime well with ours, or vice versa.

Just days into living altogether under the same roof for the first time in years I asked my nocturnal 19 year-old to refrain from cooking meals at 4am and my principled 22 year-old to keep political discussions – which at the best of times can cause conflict – to a minimum, requests which, to their credit, they seem to be adhering to.

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Then there’s the need to maintain a fridge stocked with provisions to suit all tastes at a time when shopping opportunities are limited and many items hard to come by, and the abrupt cessation of our respective social lives so integral to our wellbeing.

But we’re a loving bunch with no choice but to adapt, and adapt we will.

Measures in place so far – and it’s early days – include a cooking rota, a games night and a movie night.

My husband has replaced weekend visits to the Spaniards with a virtual pub aptly named the Spam Yards Inn and my daughter is taking free online Arabic lessons from a young Tunisian woman eager to fill her time.

Where we’ll be in a week, a month or six months from now is anybody’s guess, and trying to guess is probably the last thing we should be doing.

One thing’s for sure, when this unprecedented and surreal crisis passes, when the loo roll jokes have run dry and life returns to some semblance of normality, we will look with fresh eyes and a new level of appreciation at the personal and collective freedoms which, until just days ago, we took wholly for granted.

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