Category Archives: lockdown


It is the short o in the Greek alphabet, the 15th letter. It’s also the name of the latest new variant of the novel coronavirus that causes the respiratory disease Covid19. It’s official classification is B.1.1.529, and it emerged in South Africa last Wednesday (it’s now Saturday) so we’ve had three days of being frightened by grim and disappointing news:

* it’s apparently more transmissible
* people who’ve been double vaccinated can catch it again
* it can evade some (or most?) of the power of the current vaccination jabs

It’s not yet known whether it’s more deadly.

It’s as clear as day now that the coronavirus is not something humanity is going defeat and eliminate, but something we’re going to have to live with (and die with). I believe it won’t be long before a variant will arrive that will be more deadly and, like The Plague in the middle ages, people will die in their millions. It’s a terrifying thought. But how can it not happen? I hope I’m wrong.

It’s been almost two years since the virus first emerged in Whuhan in China in December 2019. Have we lived with this virus for two years already? It seems impossible that that much time has gone by. Two years of Covid. It’s true though, because I am 52 years old and the virus emerged during my 50th year, the year I wrote ’50: Diary of a Middle-Aged Woman.’ I just have to think of how many years I am beyond my 50th birthday to know how long the virus has been in existence.

The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has today announced that face masks are mandatory again on public transport and in shops. Meanwhile, I’ve ordered a pack of ten FFP3 face masks and a box of 100 disposable gloves. If I feel that this new variation is dangerous and killing more people I’m taking the kids out of school and locking us down in our own isolation bubble until a new vaccine emerges; and I’ll be extremely careful about touching things and breathing near other people if I go outside, for example to the supermarket. As you may know from reading the diary, I tend to make my own judgements about things, and although I’m guided by the Government and other entities I make my final decision based on my personal assessment and research of the available science and news.

In 2020 I took the children out of school two weeks before the Government ordered the very first lockdown and closed the schools. I saw the chaos in Italy and felt we were in real danger and that the Government was being slow to react. At the time there was the theory of ‘herd immunity.’ I talk about this at the time in the book. But the kids’ school was even worse! They were still planning all trips and activities right up until 20th March. When I told them I was removing the twins from school due to fear of the virus they didn’t support me and I was told they would inform the council (which would fine me for unauthorised absence). How small-minded and unintelligent they were back then (you can read all about this in the diary).

So I’ve learned my lesson. I’ll make up my own mind. I’m quite a good future forecaster.

As it stands now, on Saturday 27th November 2021, I’m keeping my ear to the ground and reading the news every day. I’m poised to act if there is any indication that the virus is more deadly and transmissible. Although I’m doubly vaccinated and had the booster four weeks ago, my children are unvaccinated. I need to be careful.

Three Months of Grim Winter Lockdown Easing, at Last

The children are going back to school as this long winter lockdown finally begins to ease. In the UK, cases of Covid-19 are now low, most vulnerable and older people, including myself, have been vaccinated. I believe the chance of any of us getting the illness, and especially of getting it so severely that we need hospital treatment, is very low. At the moment I feel positive, more so than at any time in the past year (apart from perhaps July/August 2020).

I’d be happy for our children not to have to wear masks all day at school. I think it’s still a wise policy for adults in confined spaces, but for kids to have to wear them every day, six hours per day, is too much, and probably not even necessary. Let them be free, I say. I very much doubt my kids are going to give me, or anyone else, Covid, especially since they’ll be doing lateral flow tests every week.

The Cooking Problem

It’s Day 2 of the January national lockdown and I have cooked ALL the dishes and ALL the recipes, and now I don’t know WHAT to cook for the seven meals the kids will require tomorrow.

We’ve already had:
Baked potatoes
Cold meat
Fish fingers
Chinese takeaway
Baked beans on potato waffles
Scrambled eggs

School lunches may not be very nice (especially with the lack of a salad buffet) but at least I didn’t have to dream them up day after day.

Looking in the fridge for inspiration I see:
7 x mini yoghurts
One block of cheese
A few vegetables

I’ve already spent ALL my money on ALL the food, but I’ll have to go to the supermarket yet again tomorrow. I’m going every other day and spending about £50. This can’t go on!

Back Inside Our Homes

Lockdown 3.0 has taken effect. The Government says that the current rate of Covid-19 infection is worse than the first peak, which I can readily believe. The news is grim with this new variation which is 50% – 70% more transmissible than the original strain. Deaths are going to rise. What awful suffering is out there, unseen, unknown to us, who are battling away with kids in our living rooms as we try and get them to concentrate on their online lessons.

For the last three days I’ve had a dry, tickly cough and I feel ever so slightly chesty – like a minor version of the symptoms I had back in April 2019. The kids and I feel as if we have mild colds. I’ve ordered a Covid test which is being collect by courier on Friday (I ordered the test yesterday, Monday). It was the earliest they could do. I expect I’ll be feeling fine by then and won’t have any symptoms, so STILL won’t know whether I’ve had Covid, twice.

I have one child upstairs on her laptop doing geography and the other downstairs coughing away doing history. They’re both finding sitting in a chair all day long staring at a screen very challenging. Isn’t that what adults do at work? These are eleven-year-old children. I want them to be outside running free with their friends, playing games, and having fun. But this is 2021. We don’t have any friends. It’s the depths of winter and it’s FREEZING outside.

But this shall pass!! Signs of spring will emerge in a month or two.

Meanwhile, there’s comfort food.


On the day of the American Presidential election, when Joe Biden looks as if he may actually get enough votes to win (please God), and Donald Trump is screaming electoral fraud, demanding that vote counting be stopped, and stoking the possibility of violence at the ballot box, England has entered the first day of the second national lockdown.

It’s also fireworks night. Celebrations are muted this year. A couple of hours of fireworks going off in people’s back gardens, hand-held sparklers in the porch by the front door, and then silence. No big displays this year. The kids are normally disturbed by loud noises and screaming fireworks until about midnight and beyond, but this year it’s deadly quiet by 9:00pm. Which is strange (but good).

I’m pretty tired. I need the weekend to recoup – I need to spend some time in bed. I need rest. Things have been so busy and non-stop lately. And the weather’s turned cold, although still not nearly as cold as it should be at this time of year compared to my childhood when it was frost and hats and gloves.

For three weeks before the lockdown I asked Jack if he would please allow me to take him to the barbers for a haircut, but each time he loudly protested. “I will NEVER get a haircut!” ADHD/ASC means he doesn’t answer questions politely or reasonably, or even sensibly. Each week it was the same answer. NEVER.

ON THE DAY OF LOCKDOWN, TODAY, Jack asks for a haircut. Practically begs for one. All hairdressers are closed of course so there’s no chance for a haircut for a month at the very least, but he was inexplicably suddenly desperate, so I had to do a DIY session with him standing in the bath and me wielding a beard trimmer (I don’t have a pair of clippers). I didn’t get a chance to get my own highlights done, so I’m going to be going grey for Christmas. I wish I’d organised a trip to the hairdressers before lockdown started. Too late now.

Ah well, perhaps I’ll wake up tomorrow to hear that Biden has officially won. That’ll take a great weight off my shoulders, if not the entire’ world’s shoulders. We want to see the back of the pouting, tantrumming man-child that’s occupied The Whitehouse for four excruciating years.

Lockdown 2.0

As expected, the Government has announced that a second national lockdown will take place, although this time schools, colleges, and Universities will stay open. It will last for four weeks and then regions in England will go back into the tiered restrictions that have become familiar recently.

I agree that a lockdown needs to happen – and probably one more stringent. I intend to follow it to the letter. I’ve decided to socially distance from everyone, including Paul (my ex-husband and father of the twins) and my parents. I want it to just be me and the twins in the house, no-one else. Coronavirus cases and deaths are rising alarmingly exponentially in the UK right now, steeper even than during the first wave of the pandemic. I think I’d prefer the children to stay at home this time too. For safety’s sake.

I’m worried about getting the virus again. I feel short of breath from time to time, but as happened during the first wave, I can’t tell whether it’s psychosomatic or real. If it’s real I wouldn’t know whether it’s one of my usual long Covid flare-ups or the start of something new. I have no other symptoms, really – perhaps the hint of a sore throat – but I’m trying to ignore that. In winter I usually have a sore throat and a cold for about three months solid so it’s nothing remarkable. I don’t want to panic myself…

But still. These are very worrying times.

Brace, Brace, Brace!

Much of the UK is living under severe restrictions now, with some places in local lockdowns. The area where I live is unchanged from where it’s always been… but I think a national lockdown could be imposed soon. I’m trying to make the most of my freedom whilst I still have it, continuing to be very careful with hand washing and mask wearing, of course. But the figures don’t look good. France is currently faring the worst in Europe, and today president Macron announced a second national lockdown for the country. I think I will manage to squeeze in one brief trip away before school starts again after half term and we in the UK are all told to stay at home once again.

Home Schooling (50 excerpt)

Early April 2020

Question one of the first worksheet the school had sent us to was:

Write the factors of each number in the pairs: 24, 40

The problem with this question was that the children didn’t know what that meant. And neither did I. I don’t know what a factor is, or why there were pairs of numbers and not just one single number. Amy immediately got stressed and started thumping the desk and shouting that she didn’t understand. Jack, on the other hand immediately answered all the questions, wrongly, in about ten seconds flat, then stood up and loudly boasted he’d finished already, waving his paper in our faces. Amy screamed at him to shut up and go away. Confusion reigned. I looked up ‘What is a factor’ on Google, but I didn’t understand the information so couldn’t explain it to the children. Amy started crying and saying she HATED MATHS and was RUBBISH AT MATHS. Jack rubbed out all his work after I told him it was wrong (even I could tell his answers were just random numbers). His ADHD means that he’ll skim read a question and get the meaning wrong, then rush the answers which are themselves all wrong, before he realises he has to start all over again at the beginning by reading the questions properly. He doesn’t do slow and logical. He doesn’t do methodical and careful. And he doesn’t learn from his mistakes because he approaches his school work in this exact same way every single time.

At this point I decided I needed help so I phoned a friend. Lindsay very kindly attempted to explain the question to us via WhatsApp video call. I half understood, but neither of my children did. I then had another go at explaining it to them myself, expanding on Lindsay’s information (third time lucky?) but both children glazed over and interrupted saying it wasn’t making sense. I got cross and told them to keep quiet for GOD’S sake and LISTEN whilst I try to explain. In response Amy threw her pencil across the floor and shouted that she didn’t understand anything. Now I shouted for everyone to shut up and behave. Both of them again repeated how much they hate maths (even though at school Jack used to enjoy maths and do well). Everyone’s stress levels were sky high.

The twins attempted to answer the first question one more time — one crying, the other in a world of his own weirdness and confusion writing down numbers and circling random printed digits on his page (although I didn’t understand why on earth there were numbers printed in the boxes where he was supposed to be writing down the answers). After a few minutes Amy stopped struggling, tears running down her cheeks, and said she still didn’t understand it. But neither did I, so I couldn’t help her. I could only shrug. I noticed Jack was staring out of the window.

Forty-five minutes had somehow passed and it was the end of maths. I marked their ‘work,’ but when I looked at Jack’s paper I suddenly realised I’d accidentally given him the answer sheet instead of the questions. No wonder he already had numbers printed in the answer boxes, no wonder he was confused. I hadn’t noticed before because I thought those numbers were somehow part of the question. That’s how bad my understanding of maths is.

Everyone was unhappy and exhausted. If asked, we couldn’t do the same question again tomorrow because we don’t know how we got the (mostly incorrect) answers this time. How is that teaching? Amy sobbed and ran upstairs. This was the first lesson of the day. I’m simply not equipped to teach maths. I have no training, no ability, no understanding, and I can’t do it. I’m making my children worse at this subject. I never expected to have to be a maths teacher and would never set myself up to be one. I can’t do this alone without the support of school. Jack does have quite a good understanding, but I’m gradually confusing him and undermining his confidence. And with my assistance Amy is solidifying her block against it.