As of the 30th of April 2020, it has been 38 days since the judiciary hammer extended by the government’s arm crashed down to declare a nation wide lockdown. From that point forward, life has moved at a pallbearers pace. For many, days have merged into what feels an amalgamation of sludge, devoid of any unique individuality. The determination required to stick to a set out plan designed to prevent personal productivity from slipping below an unprecedented low has, particularly for school students, become the most difficult thing to attain; closely followed by a roll of toilet paper.
On the whole, the general lockdown ordeal has been universally experienced, characterised by daily walks and Joe Wicks workouts. However, in the smaller, more minute nuances of everyday life, differences that are defining the individual lockdown experience arise. In the hope of gaining different perspectives on the personal lockdown experience, I interviewed both a teacher, Lewis Froy, and a student, Amelia Gillespie, to see how each of their lives have been altered by the lockdown, and most importantly, how they are coping.
What has it been like transitioning from seeing and interacting with hundreds of faces on a daily basis to only seeing those you live with?
(LF) It’s been pretty difficult! I’m a bit of a prisoner in my own mind so I sort of need to see a lot of people to keep my brain moving. It makes me feel lucky that I do get to see so many people everyday though, being stuck on a computer working all day has given me a bleak insight into how lots of people spend their working lives. Not for me I’m afraid.
(AG) It’s been a big change but I have adapted quite quickly so I haven’t really thought about it too much. I do really miss my friends and not being able to see them or my family has been extremely difficult.
In a time that has the potential to be one of the loneliest of our lives, are you keeping in touch with friends and family and if so, how?
(LF) Oh the usual stuff, zoom chats and houseparty. I’m also dusting off my old person skills on how to talk on the phone. It’s like being a 90s teen again, except I don’t have to talk to my friends parents first!
(AG) We’ve been facetiming, texting, using houseparty and social media in general. The past month has made me very thankful for social media because of how easy it makes it for us to communicate with one another; without it things would be a lot harder.
How are you keeping yourself busy aside from work? Have you picked up a new hobby, or a new netflix series to indulge yourself in.
(LF) Well I’ve been writing online Drama lessons, but my family have all redone Stranger Things, and I’m currently watching Mandalorian as I type this. My son, Elliot, also designed this board game that’s really good so we’re playing that a lot. And eating. Lots of eating. As for new hobbies it’s probably just trying not to irritate my wife to the point of divorce!
(AG) My mum bought us some hula hoops, so I have been learning to hula hoop. The longest time I’ve gone without stopping is 8 minutes! I’ve also been attempting to teach myself Spanish after watching the show Power. They speak Spanish in the show and I thought it sounded cool. I’ve learnt loads of romantic phrases just in case I meet a Spanish boy and, if that fails, at least I might be able to flirt my way into a discount on some paella.
Have you given yourself a schedule to adhere to or have you adopted a more ‘free spirited’ approach?
(LF) Haha, well it depends on the day, like most I guess. Some days I’m really motivated and others are a bit darker so I’ll just have a bit of a bleak one! Elliot’s doing the homeschool thing so we’re trying to help him with that. I’m up by midday though mostly.
(AG) I haven’t given myself any sort of schedule because they stress me out. That being said, this is likely to change because I’ve been going to bed in the morning and waking up in the afternoon. However, it seems to be working for me!
What have you found to be the most difficult thing about your lockdown experience?
(LF) I just miss my friends, and seeing all the students. My form leaves (6th form) this year so I’m gutted beyond words that we have to dribble out in this way. Obviously just seeing the numbers on the news everyday is just really horrible as well, you can’t help but feel empathy for people losing loved ones and not being able to be anywhere near them. Gives me shivers.
(AG) For me personally, the most difficult thing is definitely not being able to see my friends and not knowing when I will be able to. That being said, I know I am in a much more fortunate position than a lot of people.
Is there anything you have enjoyed about the lockdown?
(LF) Lots actually! Hanging out with my family and having more time for creative stuff, I’ve been writing and recording podcasts and stuff. Me and my best mate have been doing one called love letters where we talk to people about their formative romantic lives. Everyone has a brilliant story to tell!
(AG) Yes! My parents both work very busy schedules so it has been nice spending some more time with them. We were close beforehand but we’re definitely a lot closer now.
Would you say that you are managing to cope?
(LF) I reckon so yeah…it reminds me of being on tour playing music. You just sit in a van with 3 people all day everyday, so I’m kind of used to it!
(AG) I’m coping well I think. One second I’m okay and then the next there is nothing I want more than this to be all over. But, I find a sense of comfort in knowing that I am not alone in feeling that way and it is not as though we’ve been given a hard job to just stay inside. I’ve got good friends, I’m close with my family and I’m not by myself. Things could always be worse.
Given the sheer uncertainty of the current situation and how it will play out, how do you feel when thinking about the future?
(LF) I really hope this makes us rethink how we do things. From education to work/life balance. We all run around like idiots and I just think there must be a better way to do things. I think the economy will be so bleak the government will have to step in and make people more secure. I hope so because otherwise it’s gonna be like the wild west in the UK, everyone fighting for scraps. I think we can do better.
(AG) For everyone I think the uncertainty is scary. For year 11’s and 13’s they are obviously worrying about their results. Being a year 12 is extremely stressful at the minute. This is the year we are supposed to be looking for our uni’s and we’ve ended up having to self teach ourselves large parts of courses that are already difficult to grasp. Again, in comparison to the problems that are being faced by others at the minute, we’re not in the worst possible position.
Most importantly, is your hair intact?
(LF) Intact but thinning. Under downlighting I can see my own skull. It’s disconcerting but I reckon I’ve got a couple of years left!
(AG) Yes, my hair is just about intact. I’ve cut it a bit and I have been very tempted to dye it blonde but I’m getting mixed opinions on it. My friend has cut her hair into a bob and managed to dye it blue by accident, I’m not quite that bad yet!
I came away from both interviews with what felt like a renewed sense of optimism. Day after day we appear to be closer to the end of our fibres, coming closer to the point where we can physically no longer bend and any additional pressure or stress will cause an inevitable snap. Yet despite this, we do continue to bend. Each of us continues to devise our own unique way to cope and, with no definitive end in sight, attempting to cope is, for the meantime, all we can do.
By George Robertson, Parmiters School.