When my girlfriend and I left for our short Italian holiday at the start of the month, only ten small towns were in quarantine, the Government advice was little different than that for staying in Britain, and the worst of the crisis appeared to be far from where we were heading.
By the time we got back to our flat in London, the whole of Italy was in lockdown.
Until March 24 we’re in our own personal lockdown and following official instructions to self-isolate. For the next two weeks, I’ll be keeping this diary of our quarantine. Perhaps it can work as a guide or even a source of solace for those who will follow us.
Days 11-14 Friday March 20 to Monday March 23
That’s the final weekend done. On Tuesday, the 24th March, we’ll be allowed out into the world. Yet by the looks of it, the end of our self-isolation isn’t going to mean very much.
I’m still concerned about whether we’ll be able to find enough food in the supermarket, so at least from Tuesday we’ll be able to go out and forage for it ourselves rather than waiting impotently for a delivery slot to free up.
And, two weeks in confinement means I’ll genuinely appreciate whatever brief journeys I’m allowed to make outside. Even if they are just to Sainsbury’s.
三级成人视频Still, I’m not entirely sure how to feel about the last fortnight. In some ways, it’s like we’ve missed out on one last week of normality and being able to have dinner with our friends. But, at the same time, we’ve been able to adjust to it while large swathes of the country are clearly still in denial while they flock to public places.
Indeed, the fact that we had all of a few hours notice of the need to self-isolate meant we couldn’t dwell on the thought, we just had to get on and do it. I wonder how much the knowledge that a lockdown is coming is what’s made all those people make the stupid and selfish decision to ignore social distancing advice.
I can’t say I have that much sympathy though. I spoke last night on the phone to my grandmother. She’s among the 1.5 million people the Government has said must shield themselves for the next three months, whatever else the rest of us are told to do.
As my grandmother put it, “it’d be nice to know when it’s all going to end”. But in the meantime, sacrifice is hardly the word for what’s being asked of us. At no point in the last two weeks have I thought of this as difficult. Strange, perhaps. Boring and tedious, yes. But difficult, no.
From the beginning
Day 0 – Monday March 9
三级成人视频By the time we were on the way to the airport, we already knew we were heading into self-isolation. We'd only been in Venice for a few days, but cases of coronavirus in Italy had spiked dramatically, prompting the British Government to change its advice: anyone returning from the southern European country should self-isolate for 14 days, even if asymptomatic.
But it wasn’t until we reached the delicatessen section of the duty free in Departures that the urgent need for food dawned.
The holiday itself meant there wasn’t going to be any fresh food awaiting our return, although my predilection for beans and pulses of all varieties meant the cupboard wouldn’t be totally bare. We’re also lucky that very good friends of ours live just a few hundred feet down the road; we knew they could act as a personal delivery service during our impending isolation.
三级成人视频Still, who can recall off the top of their heads, and without having been home for several days, what exactly it is that’s in their cupboards? Nor could we be totally sure that our friends would be around to help that night.
Instead, the quick evening shop – an event usually saved for the Little Waitrose on the way home from work – was now taking place among the delicacies section of an Italian regional airport. The panic buyers hadn’t made it in, so there was plenty of pasta available, albeit of the priciest variety. Less so, fresh vegetables. Parma ham, plain pasta and biscotti for pudding didn’t hold a lot of appeal, but we managed to find the ingredients for a simple Italian dinner.
三级成人视频A short yet interminable flight and a nervous train ride later (all in accordance with PHE instructions) and we were home. Kettle on, time to phone 111. It wasn’t the most informative of experiences, merely confirming what we already knew: it was to be our small, one-bedroom flat and nowhere else for the next 14 days.
三级成人视频Next up was the online shop to stock up for our isolation. No panic buyers here either, it seemed: there was plenty of pasta and loo roll available, and tinned goods galore. I, for one, was starting to feel rather on top of this whole quarantine thing – and hey, it even promised to save us money by eliminating any nights out or unplanned meals.
And then we came to the delivery section of the online checkout process. The panic buyers had, in fact, got there before us. The next available delivery slot was four days away. Suddenly, being totally dependent on delivery drivers didn’t seem so hot. The remaining roll of toilet paper in our bathroom looked a lot shorter.
三级成人视频We tried other online supermarkets, and found the same story. It would have to be takeaways, left on our doorstep, for the foreseeable future. Maybe self-isolation wouldn't be the financial balm I was hoping for.
Day 1 – Tuesday March 10
Neither my girlfriend nor I are strangers to working from home, so my first full day of self-isolation hasn't felt that different from a normal day.
I did, however, return to my battle with the panic buyers, in search of the Last Thermometer in Britain.
三级成人视频We’ll need to monitor our temperatures to keep an eye out for symptoms of the virus, but until now, we haven't owned a thermometer. A quick search online showed that there appeared to be none of any kind – from fancy ear ones to the old fashioned stick-it-under-your tongue type – available anywhere.
三级成人视频For a moment, a meat thermometer tucked under the armpit seemed like the only option.
But – hooray – we found reprieve, in the shape of a basal thermometer on Amazon that should be delivered tomorrow. What, pray tell, is a basal thermometer? It’s a more precise piece of kit used by women who are tracking their fertility for conception, but will do just fine for spotting a fever. Perhaps the doomsday preppers were put off by the risk of pregnancy?
三级成人视频My victory put me in a good mood, and that's how I stayed until the evening, when a delivery driver spent half an hour carrying at least ten crates of shopping, including miles of loo roll, into the basement flat below us.
Day 2 – Wednesday March 11
三级成人视频Day two and the routine is setting in. As I mentioned yesterday, I’m no stranger to working from home, but it’s more unusual for both my girlfriend and me to be doing so at the same time. We do have significantly offset workdays, although I haven’t quite decided if that’s a good or a bad thing yet.
I start work around 5am, to , and finish at about 1pm; my girlfriend does nine till six. It means that one major hurdle of joint self-isolation isn’t a problem – the TV is all mine in the afternoon, albeit with headphones on. It does, however, undermine my visions of tearing through piles of unread books. A three-volume, hardback copy of War and Peace, a gift from two birthdays ago, continues to watch over my shoulder as I while away the quarantine with video games.
Routine, as everyone, from novelists to psychologists to freelance journalists, has always insisted, is the key to surviving confinement三级成人视频. And so we’re sticking to it. I’m making sure I get dressed every morning, keeping to the usual mealtimes and bedtimes, and generally trying to ensure the hours don’t all blur together. The lengthening Spring days and the need to get on with work certainly help. The flat isn’t yet From Here to Eternity’s “black hole”.
三级成人视频The biggest challenge, though, may prove to be exercise. My girlfriend is trying to walk around our small living room as much as possible, getting up to grab a cushion instead of asking me to fling it over. I’m not convinced she moves that much even in the office.
As for me, I'm going to try to keep to my sort-of-new-year’s-resolution of exercising more. The trick before the holiday was just to do it in the living room with the help of my new personal trainer, YouTube, rather than schlepping to the gym in the dark and cold.
Now there are two of us in the flat, it’s a little more complicated. Dedicated workout space our living room is not. A reshuffle of the furniture made it just about possible – coffee table all the way over there, dining table up against the wall – but the burpees still involved feet going out through the hallway door.
三级成人视频Laying in the plank position, red-faced and half-in, half-out of my living room, I started to rather look forward to the next cold and wet trek to the gym.
Day 3 – Thursday March 12
It might sound odd, but self-isolation doesn’t feel that different to normal life. What with it having been winter, we weren’t leaving the flat very much before the holiday anyway. Obviously we can't have guests over, but at least my evenings aren’t taken up by work events anymore.
三级成人视频Yet as little as things have changed for us, outside they seem to have shifted a lot. At the start of the week, I felt quite unique having to self-isolate. Now, with the news that anyone experiencing symptoms should do so, it seems I'm soon to be one of very many.
In fact, I'm feeling rather safe and secure in our sealed-off flat, away from the chaos. With ministers succumbing to the virus, it definitely feels better to be here than jammed into the Parliamentary Press Gallery to witness Dominic Raab’s coughing.
However, one thought nags at me. What if the country goes into forced lockdown at the end of next week, just when my girlfriend and I are ready to finally cut the quarantine tape and emerge blinking into the sunshine?
Day 4 - Friday March 13
It’s the end of the working week, and so far the routine has been going alright. We had another workout session and we’re getting the hang of our micro-gym space. Work has been ticking over and limiting the number of empty hours that need filling. Tomorrow might be another matter. The forecast doesn’t look great, so even without the isolation, we might have stayed in. Still, the idea that we can’t even nip to the pub 50 yards down the road stings.
三级成人视频It also feels a more than a little unfair (if entirely scientifically sound) that those who’ve shown symptoms will only have to self-isolate for seven days, while we’re in here for a whole fortnight. Then again, it could be worse. We’re in this together and I can’t imagine having to self-isolate from people in my own home.
三级成人视频Some parts of maintaining routine have been harder than others. Being at home all day on a weekday seems to set off that bit of the brain that equates weekends with drinking. They say not keeping booze in the house is the best way to cut down, and we generally don’t. Although the lack of wine or beer in the flat is more a symptom of never buying groceries for more than a day or two in advance. We opted against including any in the online shop, though I couldn’t tell you if that was because of the steadily increasing checkout bill or the idealistic/puritanical corner of my brain lighting up at the thought of a detox.
三级成人视频In the end, with the definitely well-stocked spirits cupboard starting to look like an ever-present danger, we cracked and asked our friend to add some beers to their care package. A package that turned out to contain mostly beer, with the panic buying apparently having spread to eggs now, too.
Days 5 and 6 - Saturday March 14 and Sunday March 15
That’s the weekend done and it’s back into work mode for the next five days. I was expecting Saturday and Sunday to be the hardest part, but honestly? It’s been alright. Survival, it seems, comes from regressing to my teenage self.
I spent my teens in a tiny Northamptonshire village (pop. at the last census: 307) with a pub, a church and not much else. No shop, and certainly no public transport. By the time I was 14, most of the kids my age moved away. As a result, my holidays, be they Christmas, Easter or summer were mostly spent playing video games in my bedroom for hours on end.
That being said, at least then I had dogs that needed to be walked and the countryside on my front door – even if in winter it took the threat of nightfall at 3.45pm to get me out of the house, with the dogs, at 3.30pm.
So maybe it’s not a surprise that I’m unperturbed by hours spent at home doing nothing but riding around ancient Greece on a digital horse or capturing Iwo Jima for the thousandth time. (To add to the regression, yesterday one of my favourite games from a decade ago arrived in the post. That should kill an afternoon or two.)
The difference this time? I do actually feel the need to socialise with my housemate and to go to bed before dawn. When it comes time to cook (an excellent way to unwind if you enjoy it, which I do), the PlayStation is switched off and the teenage regression with it.
Day 7 – Monday March 16
三级成人视频The announcement on Monday of a national lockdown feels like a weird twist on that classic plotline of a character waking up from years in a coma. Instead of the world becoming unrecognisable while I’ve been unconscious, it’s flipped on its head in just the single week since we sealed ourselves in. And all the while we’ve watched on from seclusion.
Yesterday, we video-called my sister in Sydney. It was a surreal experience. Just a couple of months ago, we’d been asking them about the forest fires sweeping the country. They really did seem apocalyptic, but they were also ten thousand miles away and felt it.
Yet know, here we were discussing a planet-wide threat to which such distances mean little. It’s a feeling that was only reinforced by my social media filling up with posts from friends in Europe trying to make the best of their own enforced lockdown. There is nowhere to get away to.
A bit later, I spoke to my parents on the phone. My dad lives less than three miles away, on the other side of central London. Yet stuck in self-isolation (and now with the new measures in place) he didn’t feel any closer than my sister in Sydney did.
I suppose the upside is that it’s so easy to communicate with any of my relatives and friends, wherever they are on the planet. Maybe, like the year I studied abroad, I might even speak to my family more because of the lockdown.
三级成人视频Still, it feels like when we finally can step out the front door it’ll be into a very different place to the one we sealed ourselves off from.
Day 8 - Tuesday March 17
三级成人视频I’ve had two emails from Mike Coupe, the CEO of Sainsbury’s, so far. Apparently there’s plenty of food to go around, although they’ll be placing limits on multiple purchases of some items. Oh, and please stop stockpiling, he says.
三级成人视频It’s very reassuring, in a way. I just hope the intended audience is getting the message. Having learnt our lesson last week by having to wait four days for delivery, we tried to get ahead of the game and order early. But there were absolutely zero delivery slots available for at least the next three weeks. We cannot buy more food.
Luckily, we have just about enough to last until we can visit the supermarket in person. Yet it’s still infuriating.
三级成人视频People who are perfectly capable of going to the shops themselves are swamping delivery services. And often its because they are engaging in the very panic buying that is forcing so many other people to go online in the vague hope of finding a tin of beans or a bag of fusili.
We’ll be ok for now. But if we have to isolate again – so far, we’ve shown no symptoms so there’s every chance we could catch the virus in the coming weeks – we’ll be stuck in the same situation. And it could be even more of a problem if our friends nearby have to isolate too.
三级成人视频I have other friends who insist that they can make deliveries across central London, but it seems slightly perverse to ask a friend to traipse across the city in the middle of a pandemic so that we can stay in isolation. It also feels like a sad indictment of the lack of community in my local area, or maybe more likely, my failure to find and join it.
三级成人视频I’ve been a student. I’ve lived off lasagna sheets and couscous before, but I’d rather not have to again. Self-isolation is fine. It’d be nice if people outside could get a grip.
Day 9 – Wednesday March 18
Seeing the rest of the country struggling to cope with the idea of weeks and probably months of isolation has made me realise that I’ve already accepted it. Perhaps it’s the extra ten days in isolation, perhaps it’s that I’ve kept abreast of the pandemic modelling for work and so I knew what to expect.
Either way, I’ve felt, maybe prematurely, a sense of acceptance the past couple of days. For those only just giving up on the idea of leaving home for more than a brief, frantic shop, the idea of acceptance probably seems bizarre. In fact, judging by the pictures of rammed Tube trains and crowds outside pubs, more than a few people are still in denial.
I’m sure it’ll dawn on them soon enough.
三级成人视频Put another way, there’s not much to report. Once you settle into the groove, self-isolation quickly becomes routine. I’ve no doubt I’ll be sick of it eventually, but right now it’s become normal.
Day 10 – Thursday March 19
三级成人视频I know the hope is that the country will come together during this crisis, but if there is going to be one big divide, it’ll be between those for whom working from home isn’t a big deal and those for whom it’s not even possible.
I’m lucky in that I fall firmly into the former category. It’s not fun to admit, but rather a lot of journalism can be done on the phone nowadays. The upshot of which is that my routine is unchanged and my time not that much freer than before.
三级成人视频In fact, for a couple of days now I’ve had the slightly perverse worry at the back of my mind that we’ll get to the end of this national quarantine and I won’t have made the best of it.
三级成人视频Articles abound on silver linings and this being an opportunity to finally do all those things you’ve been putting off. But the much less enticing reality is that work takes up just as much time and just as much energy as before. Add in the extra pressure to keep fit and the frequent calls to friends and relatives and by eveningtime I’ve only got the energy for some lightweight TV and about ten pages of a book before falling asleep – just as if I’d been to the office.
Those reminders from my language learning app are swiped away just as swiftly as before, the dust on the guitar grows thicker and my stack of unread books isn’t getting and shorter.
Still, I’m not complaining. I know things are much worse for others.