Day One: ‘If you’d told me at Christmas that we’d all be scavenging through empty supermarkets now, I’d assumed you’d been on the gin’

Contributor: Sandie:

Empty supermarkets have been commonplace

“I feel like I’m over the crippling panic phase. The bit where anxiety was gnawing at and twisting my insides, eyes were constantly blurry with tears and I had to keep regulating my breathing. Perhaps I’m calmer because this is actually Isolation Day 15 for me and I’m slowly adapting…

As a creative agency, we’ve been geared up to work from home for a while so planned to isolate early. We all had elderly relatives we were worried about and felt well placed to help stop spread the virus. 

So already being 15 days in, and having parents who’d been self-isolating too, might also explain why I’ve felt a bit frustrated (ok, bloody grumpy) with so many people still on the streets. I need to remember this is new to many. It’s also a situation that none of us could ever have imagined (we’ve been very fortunate in the UK for the last 70 years). If you’d told me at Christmas that in three months time we’d all be scavenging through empty supermarkets for abandoned cans of soup and forbidden to have contact with other humans, I’d have just patted your arm and assumed you’d been on the gin. And the seeming insanity of our government’s initial strategy, the painfully-slow in-the-wrong-gear u-turn they are making on that strategy and the vague advice being given, surely isn’t helping.

I’ve stopped watching or reading news for a bit – am skimming headlines once a day in order to keep up. Not my usual MO – it’s important to stay informed – but with my monstrously big imagination and no one to bounce wild fears off every ten minutes, this currently feels like the only solution to getting through in as decent a mental state as I can. I’m not going to be much help to anyone else if I don’t.

However, while I feel relatively calm in my head, my body seems to have other ideas. Something new/weird/frankly a tad scary keeps happening. My throat tightens up and then closes. Like, completely closes so I can’t breathe. And then of course I start to panic. Am feeling completely well so I realise it’s just anxiety-related but, despite this understanding, it’s hard to stop it. Anyone else experiencing this? Tips on breathing/staying alive are welcomed!”

Day One: 'I'm through it unscarred, and have just another 83 days to go…'

Contributor: Mark:

“If it wasn’t for the fact the Coronavirus is spreading rapidly across the United Kingdom and the death toll is rising, today will go down as a good day. In my first full day working from home and attempting to keep two 10-year-olds educated and entertained I think I have come through it unscarred and ready for Day Two. When I finally sat down to write my first diary Coronavirus diary this evening I wondered if events might be so unremarkable that this project might just end up being like Seinfeld – the show about nothing. Then I thought, if this whole experience does just end up being the blogged minutiae of daily life, with some ups and a few downs, I’ll take it.

Deep down I know it won’t be that straight forward. Any sense of satisfaction is clouded with worry about what happens next. I feel I’m off to a good start, but we have a long way to go. My friends in the NHS say we are two weeks behind Italy in terms of cases and Italy cannot cope. Worse still, the citizens of United Kingdom have appeared not exactly followed the idea of social-distancing to the letter and there is an expectation in the medical profession that we could soon be worse than Italy in terms of cases and the burden on our health service will be too great. As none of this has actually happened yet, my over-riding concern on day one is the fear of the unknown. I am worried for the people I’m closest to. I also don’t know if work will ever get back to normal or whether life can ever pick up where it left off. I can’t imagine I am alone in thinking about this.

These are the clouds that darken an otherwise good day working from home and looking after my boys. They have been well behaved. We started the day with the Joe Wicks’ PE with Joe at 9am along with 800,000 others. I have to say it was very good to get energised for half an hour and start the day right. Our day is mapped out so that boys are encouraged to do learning activities (pictured above) all morning and in the afternoon they have some free time while I catch up with work, before a walk around the block. I also had a video call with three people from work and it was good to see and hear my colleagues.

If you get the chance to use Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Skype, FaceTime or whatever please do – it is rather uplifting to chat digitally, even if not face-to-face. Boris Johnson says we can bring Coronavirus under control in three months. I am fearful about the weeks ahead, but I am pleased how Day One went. If we can hit Boris’s target to end the rising curve of illness we have just another 83 days to repeat this exercise, stay safe and make this the best new show about nothing.”

Day One: 'Life will potentially be more uncertain than it was in those 1940 war years'

Contributor: Tony:

“I’m sitting here feeling like Nella Last, or Housewife 49 as she was known by the Mass Observation Archive.

Nella (pictured above) provided valuable information on what it was like for a married woman living in the industrial north-west of England during the years of the Second World War.

She was immortalised by the late Victoria Wood in a wonderful TV film, which I expect many will have seen. 

And now like Nella, here we sit in the midst of another war, but this time with an invisible microscopic enemy. 

Some may argue that life will potentially be more uncertain than it was in those 1940 war years.

This is officially day one, but to me it is day ten since on 13 March (the dreaded Friday the thirteenth), my soulmate advised me that as I am over sixty years old and have hypertension, even if it is controlled by medication, I should isolate in accordance with guidance from the World Health Organisation. 

Neither my soulmate nor I had any confidence in the advice issued by the Tory government, and saw their seventy plus benchmark as simply an unwillingness to concede that making workers work well into their mid, and then later, sixties to get their state pension puts them at greater medical risk. 

As it might appear, the prime minister’s adviser, Dominic Cummings, allegedly believes letting older people die is a price worth paying to keep the wheels of British capitalism turning.  

The worse thing for me on this day one (ten) is that I am not able to see or talk face-to-face with my soulmate because although she is nearly two decades younger than me, she does have some chronic health issues of her own to manage. 

This is going to make the coming days, weeks, months incredibly challenging, but I suppose resilience is forever tested and when we all come out of this the world will be forever changed.

Well, I for one hope that the political landscape does not return to ‘business as usual’.

Never more so than now do I understand what I was taught in those days gone by when I was just a young political activist; this being that a general election is only a snapshot.

In spite of that whopping majority Johnson was given (predominantly by those Cummings may think are expendable), the government are going to be under scrutiny and pressure the likes of which has never been seen before. 

That thought will hopefully see me through.

See you tomorrow.”