Jane Wenham-Jones: Lockdown Lowdown diary – “I could now get work as an extra in Peaky Blinders.”

Desperate measures

As lockdown continues, Jane remains in isolation with husband, son, cat and a pair of hair clippers…


It’s a strange old Easter with no chocolate eggs but my new-found domestic goddessery continues apace. Since Friday I have made my own (slightly unusual, still edible) hot cross buns, baked a madeira cake and fashioned my own pizza dough. I spend the afternoon roasting a chicken and hammering nails into the kitchen wall replacing pictures taken down five years ago. My efforts are not enhanced by dropping the spirit level down the back of the radiator. Nor is my mood when I snap the handle of the net we use to catch the cat’s offerings, trying to retrieve it.

I have just got the tongs wedged down there too, and am having to turn potatoes with a fork, when my husband wanders in for more wine – the better with which to appreciate his book – and the sounds of a new video game float down from overhead. “Enjoying yourself?” my spouse enquires, as I burn my thumb, jump backwards and send the only straight frame crashing to the floor.  I have just opened my mouth to screech: “I do everything round here!”  when the news comes on. The death toll from the virus has just topped 10,000. I shut the hell up and have a drink myself.


By popular request (my stepson Paul and his wife Lynda), I am videoing my method of making bread. I have been engaged in distance-bartering via packages on doorsteps, with Jo Scott, of Broadstairs Food Festival fame, and now have both flour AND yeast. I don an apron and the first lipstick for weeks, eager to demonstrate my unique rapid preparation of stage one. My fantasies of rolling this out to an enthralled nation soon fade when I realise the cameraman has chopped my head off in most shots and it is obvious when I’ve measured out water with aplomb, that the sink needs a good clean. If I stand before our picturesque dresser, I look like my grandmother. Positioning myself in the softer, wrinkle-blurring light, offers a full view of the tiles that need re-grouting and my Sellotaped list of what’s out of date in the freezer. Filming continues on and off all day, with each phase getting shorter and less focused as cocktail hour comes and goes. Eventually I’m waving a glass of red at the finished loaves, with a cheery “There you go!”

Very good, texts Lynda the next morning, but you didn’t tell us the oven temperature or cooking times. Details, Love, mere details.


Great excitement at today’s Amazon parcel. The hair-dressing scissors have arrived. I have cut out a guide to doing your own locks and believe I have made a fair fist of my fringe. The problem is knowing when to stop. I feel like My Naughty Little Sister in the Dorothy Edwards books, who cuts to ribbons an entire length of fabric destined to be her bridesmaid dress because the snipping makes such a nice noise. As I’ve never been good at eye/hand coordination via a mirror I need help with the cropping bit. I assess the likely barber-skills potential of the two men I live with. One is likely to shave the wrong side entirely while the other will think it amusing to write I D I O T in tramlines along the back of my head. In the end it is a joint effort. My husband manages to achieve a tufty finish as if I have mange, which my son then “tidies up.” I am now entirely bald behind one ear and could work as an extra in Peaky Blinders.


I was late to the tale of Captain Tom Moore. By the time I donated, this marvellous 99-year-old had already raised eight million pounds by making laps of his garden with his walking frame. Today he has topped twenty million. What a man! What a total inspiration!

Here, I have what now constitutes a packed diary. We have scored a Waitrose delivery and I have booked for yoga online.  Plus it’s Clap Day and the weekly shout to the neighbours followed by another Zoom quiz.  I have a lie-down in the afternoon to ensure I don’t peak too soon.

Lockdown tip of the week

You can cook with Salsa that has a use-by date of February 2016 without fear of familicide.  Even if it was supposed to be used within four weeks after opening and refrigerated, and this one’s been hiding at the back of the larder for three summers. Toss into some old turkey mince (2018) from the bottom of the freezer and fry with extra chilli, garlic and some finely chopped veg and give it an oriental-sounding name, for a quick supper that impresses the family without killing them. Yet.



  1. Jane, your wonderful witty diary of lockdown mimics so much of my experience, with one notable difference. I work in Waitrose so am technically a key worker. My slightly precious, one-day-past-its-sell-by-date-&-you’ll-kill-me daughter is surviving despite the subterfuges I am employing. Don’t ask. It’s almost embarassing. Foodstuffs long forgotten are being revisited. Never say never. If the virus has to compete with the evolutionary advantage of a cast iron digestion, it ain’t got a hope. We’ve done self isolation and have survived. I put it down to my culinary inventiveness and foraging into cupboards barely seen in recent memory.

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