Updated: Jun 9
The window cleaner arrived this week.
“Hiya!” chirped Willie.
“Hello!” I replied, subtly lengthening the ‘o’, inferring a question, not a reply.
“I’m here to do your windows.”
“But you’ve only just done them.”
“Not for over a month.”
I checked; he was quite right.
Four whole weeks. How did that happen?
Recently, the passage of time has taken on an entirely new sense of proportion. Without the punctuation of calendar demands, what started as, “I can do this,” has rapidly become, “there’s always tomorrow.”
I’m discovering that jobs, previously executed in a heartbeat, are now put on the benches until I find the right moment (increasingly elusive).
Perhaps, like us, you’re also struggling to remember what’s been accomplished during lockdown; apart from staying at home, staying safe and saving the NHS; which, of course, are the primary objectives.
Despite initial Olympic-like energy - drive-washing; reviving the lawnmower; renovating the summerhouse; keeping fit, etc etc – our mojo soon reduced to more of an asthmatic ‘puff’. Brave, first steps now meld into an endless sea of meal preparation and brittle tempers. The Covid-19 honeymoon period is over. Reality check now kicks in.
Back at the end of March, as the nation plunged into its new restrictive life, I heard a radio interview with an Italy-based, British mum, her family already house-bound for a fortnight. Nick Robinson asked her about lockdown life: ‘Our days just merge into one, but it’s been very pleasant having more time at home.’
I felt slightly queasy at the clarity of this impending situation. It triggered memories of early baby months when, if you managed to get dressed, eat and perhaps – daringly – actually mop the kitchen floor, the day merited applause.
Could we really be returning to such minor achievement? It was overwhelming, shocking. Time to sit down for another cup of tea.
But it turns out Italy lady was absolutely spot-on.
Less than a month after raising the drawbridge, a YouGov survey reported that only a staggeringly low 9% questioned, wanted to return to ‘normal’.
“People are trying new things and noticing differences, at home, in their work and in communities,” said Professor Tom MacMillan from the Royal Agricultural University, and research lead for the commission.
Rolled-out across the nation, that’s quite an engine for change. Added to this movement is the welcome news that shampoo and deodorant sales have hit the economic doldrums.
Despite Zoom’s best efforts, apparently, we secretly just don’t much care about looks and, even less, how we smell. Hoorah, at last I can come out of the ‘I’m not washing my hair every day’ closet.
On a prosaic level, I hear watches too are being ditched to lessen virus-hot-spots, leaving many to engage less with the exact hour of the day.
Time may be virtually standing still for many of us, but it’s still marching on, providing the unflinching backdrop to which we all must live.
Perhaps then, while time is not changing, many of us are learning to make more of the precious hours on offer and to enjoy what, not how much, we cram into each day.
I do hope so as this also gives me the perfect excuse for not painting the spare room. The ‘slow’ movement has been dealt a surprising card.
Anyone for a cuppa?