How the British reacted to life in lockdown

Zero to Hero Oreo

March 23rd 2020 – A day all Brits will remember, it was a Monday, all the restaurants and pubs had already closed, takeaways were dwindling at a speedily decline. More and more people had started to take shelter at home after making sure to clear the supermarkets of anything that could be kept for the inevitable apocalypse – which mostly consisted of flour, eggs, pasta and of course (without a doubt) enough toilet roll to embalm your entire street in the likely case they need mummifying for their own protection. When the curtain fell down and covered the U.K further into a state of mass hysteria after BOJO finally announced the day had come – Lockdown.

Many people had already been isolating, be it for the protection and health of themselves, loved ones in the home or just because they had been waiting for this moment their entire lives – no more socialisation or travelling, no more work and commuting, the government had mandated a scenario that nature had dreamed of – The Earth was given a bit of a break from the virus that wreaks the planet, not Coronavirus, but humans. Fields began to regrow flowers allowing the bees to pollinate without us getting in their way. Rabbits crossing the road not having to look thrice before making the leap. Mountain goats had taken over a town in Wales – I fucking loved seeing them lounging about like they owned the place, and so they should! If you were lucky enough to live near a beach, you’d notice the sand not smothered in lubed up holiday makers, oversized towels, screaming crotch goblins and Carlsberg cans stuffed with chip wrappers and Choc Ice packets.

So Mother Nature was happy for her holiday from humans, but what was left for us to do? With a lot of industries out of the picture, not everybody having the guts or the qualifications to get into the Health and Social care services and many more having to stay at home out of necessity – with all the things we usually would do taken off the tables; we had to find new ways to occupy ourselves.

1. Gardening

Picture of small tomato plant in a pot.
Photo by cottonbro on

Many shops had already closed but thank fuck for the holy trinity: Homebase, B&Q and our budget god of shops – B&Ms. People flocked and queued up for hours in line with the 2 metre distancing rarely grasped by absolute moomins that cannot see the BRIGHT BLACK AND YELLOW TAPE or the signs which I think were far too polite advising people to keep their distance instead of clearly saying something like “If you can read this sign, you’re too close – Fuck Off!”. Once you made it past the pearly gates blue doors you are bombarded with bargains and many manically dashing for the garden section to start preparing more sensibly for the apocalypse. Gardening is such a healthy habit to get into, being one with nature, seeing things grow right before your eyes and when the hard work has paid off- with a green thumb, a lot of patience and a bit of luck, you will actually get to eat something you’ve not had to push that old lady aside in Tesco’s for, something you’ve grown yourself. So rewarding and an absolute bastard to get right sometimes.

2. Exercise

Unlike the notorious quarantine measures in countries like Spain, Brits had been granted a freedom, the freedom to engage in 1 hours exercise near your home per day. So like anything else BOJO says, the British public says that it is open to interpretation and thought driving 6 hours to “pop to the beach quickly” was justifiable -They were absolutely issued an on the spot fine and turned away by The Police (not Sting and the gang but law enforcement) and rightly so. I took it upon myself to be a better me, gladly using my quota of outdoor time to walk the dogs and begun working out indoors. I had quite the routine, strengthening and toning various areas of my body each day – it lasted about 2 days, what a load of shit.

To all you instagrammers out there living your best lives and sharing snaps of all of your glistening muscles and smiley faces after a run – Fuck off. It’s all lies and you’re just doing it for likes. Nobody smiles when they can’t get off the toilet after doing squats 2 days in a row. Nobody has a cheeky grin when their moobs are so sore from doing 13 push ups that they can’t stretch their arms out. And absolutely no one looks forward to polishing off a foliage based smoothie with dolphin friendly vegan yoghurt and a single almond for dinner after a jog. I’ll stick to my biscuit marathons – timing how long I can dip in my tea and still salvage nourishment without it destructively sinking like a ship into the bottom of my cup of tea, or how long it takes me to demolish a whole pack. I’ve trained myself up to be the Usain Bolt of Jaffa cakes and Fox’s Crunch Creams.

3. Baking

Now this is a workout I can get on board with, kneeding dough, vigorously chopping fruit for a strudel, giving those fingers a workout with fluffing that glutenous, diabetic inducing fatty blend of ingredients to make a topping for my apple crumble – drool. If you were lucky enough to have a small shop that hadn’t sold out of baking goods because nobody goes there due to the fact it costs a fortune. Or if you managed to knock that Karen out of the way after she pushed past you to get the last bag of flour in Waitrose, slammed little old Geraldines brakes on her wheelchair to ensure she doesn’t buy all the Stork shortening fat that makes your cookies so soft, and kicked that little boy in Tescos so his Beardy Steve looking Dad would give him a bollocking for making him forget his shopping list- allowing you to sneak down the aisle to ensure they won’t be having eggs for breakfast tomorrow. If then after all that you have managed to hunt down the basic ingredients to start your own ‘Bake Off – Covid Edition’ in your very own home- you have achieved what so many others before you haven’t in this new world. Gluten free has now become a trend of the past in these trying times with nobody being able to afford the alternatives; which unless you have an intolerance are just expensive, pointless and quite frankly pale in comparison to that wheaty goodness anyway. El Chapo, if you were still around you’d be swapping out Cocaine for Strong Bread Flour and still be making billions.

4. Get banned from Facebook

Person holding a sign up saying Coronavirus masked by tape saying STOP.
Photo by cottonbro on

Everybody has served some time in Facebook jail and if you haven’t already you should start a fight with somebody halfway across the world to kill some time only to face the warning from the Community Standards Team for breaching the laws of the internet. This was a guilty pleasure of mine for quite some time, whether it’s playing the role of the Grammar Nazi on a local News Page comments section for the thrill of winding up middle aged Facebook newcomers; or fighting injustices on a world scale with my keyboard warrior moves. I have faced temporary bans more than once. When there’s nothing to do, myself along with many others find themselves endlessly scrolling through social media for news about that person on your friends list that added 9 years ago but fail to remember who they are and why you haven’t deleted them yet. Pretending to be part of an ant colony that spaces every word out wreaking havoc on those who rely on the voice assistant to read out comments for them. Whatever you use social media for, get yourself banned for speaking your mind and feel the freedom of not relying on it anymore – it’s actually quite serene, almost like you are in touch with being human again instead of being a slave to scrolling, liking and hashtagging. You might even realise how disconnected it makes you feel from actually living your life and not pretending to via a screen for everyone else’s amusement.

5. Bingewatching

A man and woman sit looking up at the Netflix logo on their TV screen.
Photo by cottonbro on

Who has the time to read books these day? Well most of us do but it’s just not as satisfying as paying £5.99 a month for a Netflix subscription or whatever different streaming subscriptions you use to lazily saturate the mind with knowledge, power, philosophical questions and theories about how that bitch Carole Baskin killed her husband. To anybody with an internet connection and the luckier ones who are graced with a Netflix or Amazon Prime account saved onto your laptop from a friend who forgot to change it after introducing you to Orange is the New Black 6 years ago. Then streaming services have been a Godsend to you during these difficult times. There has been some absolute gold mines of binge-worthy series to nestle into that distract the mind from the mundane reality we are currently being oppressed by. With more and more content being uploaded it makes up for the daunting fact that Eastenders has been reduced to 2 nights a week and is going to run out of episodes before they can even film more- It’s the end of the fucking world. From juicy and gossipy dramas like Dynasty, to the controversial Messiah, to shenanigans and mysteries in The Tiger King, or technical marvels and dystopian futures of Black Mirror and Upload – Streaming apps have got it all, you just have to give it a go- but don’t let the algorithm suggestions do it for you, our Netflix guide is coming shortly!

A person holds a miniature globe in their hand whilst looking over a valley.
Photo by Porapak Apichodilok on

All in all 2020, unfortunately, won’t be a year to forget, the pandemic has shattered our plans, shaken down our bank accounts, tested relationships and changed the world forever. What can we learn from this experience? I learned that community spirit is stronger than ever, despite many of us being kept apart from our friends, family and loved ones- we are all united around the world experiencing similar hardships. Some may have lost people close to them, some have had the chance to catch up on lost time at home with their families, some have worked harder than ever before to keep this country a float and a few have been absolute moomins and flouted every rule set before us for the protection of the public and the NHS- but justify their actions by standing outside their houses clapping and throwing fireworks like it makes a difference.

Whether you learned a new language or skill to pass the time and be a better version of yourself, shaved your head to raise money for the grossly under funded healthcare system that we pay for in national insurance contributions. Maybe you gained a tonne of weight from a lack of exercise and motivation, or you’ve slaved your ass of at a job you didn’t expect to be like this. We have all experienced the setbacks and hardships brought on by COVID 19. Let’s hope that when this is all over things don’t go back to the way they were but they improve and adapt to the new globalised world that get’s smaller and smaller every year.

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