Jane Wenham-Jones: Lockdown lowdown – Bursting the bubble….

Spend an entire day watering radish plants

Lockdown Diary Number 397 

Jane Wenham-Jones loses track of how long it’s been now…

I no longer know what day it is or whether it is twelve or thirteen weeks since lockdown was announced (“It’s eleven and a half.” Ed) or how many people are allowed to congregate in a garden if they don’t live together, provided they keep at a distance of three fridges and carry a she-wee (or is it anti-bac wipes?).

Now we have  “bubbles”!  I’ve read the latest government guidance for the single or lonely three times and am still confused. A grandparent can bubble with one of his or her children – but they will have to choose which one and stick to it. (Providing all sorts of scope for resentments to flare over accusations of long-term favouritism, first aired in The Great Christmas Row of 1996).

If there are two grandparents, you stay put (even though you are the ones who most need an escape route – having got to the point where it’s simply the way the other will breathe…).  You can use a bubble to arrange (unpaid) childcare (an interesting detail there), but not if you house any kids who are actually adults (nearly 4 million of them at the last count). And if you already house-share, prepare to fight to the death over which of you is allowed a bubble cos ONLY one can have it – bound to improve the already strained relations caused by four of you being crammed together 24/7 and  trying to conference call in the same kitchen for the last three months. The good news is that two individual people can now finally shack up overnight for a bit of what they’ve been missing since March, but can I suggest a simpler solution:

My first thought was to propose rules were relaxed by age group. Send the kids back to school, and see what happens, followed by the under-30s going back to work, before the middle-aged are sent out to try their luck and so on… But I can see the what-ifs mounting up already. An obese 22-year-old with asthma could be risking death by catching the tube, say, while the sprightly 70-year-old, training for his 10th marathon, is confined to his wood-shed.

So – how about a points system?

We all start with zero and then add ten if you suffer from a physical condition; seven if you’re over 80, nine if you live with someone who’s shielding, six if you eat a lot of doughnuts and fifteen if you’re got a severe aversion to washing your hands. Stick masks on everyone in crowded places, open the floodgates and let anyone with a score of under three, cut loose.

Thus the fit  25-year old with no underlying health conditions, who will take a bit of virus in his stride, goes forth to stimulate the economy, while his great-granny of 103 stays firmly at home (the last clear message to come out of Downing Street) sucking her teeth till we’ve got a vaccine.

Whadder yer think Boris? Is it a plan?

 Ten things we’ve learned during Lockdown 

  1. It is quite possible to spend an entire day watering radish plants and thinking about tidying a drawer.
  2. Use-by dates are for guidance only.
  3. Birdsong is really lovely.
  4. “Funny” videos rarely are.
  5. You once spent an hour getting ready for a big night out. Now you begrudge putting lipstick on for Zoom.
  6. You spend a lot of time shouting at the TV and radio, and rustling the daily paper, using words like ‘shambles’ and ‘brewery’.
  7. And searching for silver linings (at least it’s not Corbyn).
  8. Key workers need a massive pay rise. Ordinary people do wonderful, generous, amazing things.
  9. Others – the cygnet-kicker in Richmond Park; wide-boys stealing shopping money from the elderly – deserve to be locked up.
  10. You have to look in your diary to see what you did yesterday but the enormity of what has happened tugs constantly at your mind. Over 41,000 deaths in the UK already and millions of job losses and a deep recession to come. You know “getting back to normal” doesn’t really mean that, because life will never be quite the same again.

      And you no longer know what day it is…



  1. Hi
    Brilliant Jane.
    I went a different route Oh woe is me.

    Whilst flicking through the multitude of TV channels now available to us all on the pretext of avoiding the repeated dull Government COVID19 separation warnings I have created a massive problem for myself.

    I find that I have now signed up to numerous Funeral insurances with the likes of SUNLIFE, PROMIS LIFE, BRITISH SENIORS, PURE CREMATIONS and ROYAL LONDON (all at a price of less than 100 coffees per week). Thats that sorted then, no worries for the family should the worst happen.

    Unfortunately whilst in my beneficial mood I find that I have also inadvertently signed up to give money via Direct Debit to helping someone called Sangita so she can build toilets for girls, another young girl who walks miles everyday for water for her family, (Why the family don’t move nearer the bloody well I cannot fathom) and a charity performing Hair Lip operations. Makes you feel good doesn’t it.

    While in this euphoric state of doing my bit, what the hell lets go for it, I am after all classed as fairly affluent even if a pensioner. Lets help the planet in some way, oh yes our best friends worldwide, I now sponsor an ELEPHANT along with the following SNOW LEOPARD, TIGER, JAGUAR, DONKEY, WOODGREEN, RSPCA, DOGS FOR THE BLIND, DOLPHINS  and  WHALES. (Though I did worry about the last two swimming up local Cambridgeshire rivers looking for me and possible dying of COVID19) God do I feel better, yes but can I do more I asked myself, what the hell lets really sort this world out in my own little way.

    Now for us, by that I mean mankind, I now support via Direct Debit the following BHF, SAVE THE CHILDREN, MARIE CURIE, SHELTER, ST JOHNS AMBULANCE, CANCER RESEARCH, NHS CHARITIES TOGETHER the COOP FOOD BANK and of course CAPT TOM. 

    My wife Patsy has now kicked me out and even the dog has run off (though it was a stuffed door stop) this after I bought her a top of the range Panini/sandwich maker off the internet. It appears whilst doing the monthly accounts I have inadvertently wiped out our pensions and savings. There is no way of “Flowering this Up” she ain’t happy. Even pleading to her better nature and telling her we could do more as there are people out there climbing Everest via some stairs in Somerset and some Scouts walking to the bloody moon she would not break. (cold these women! A woman scorned me thinks) Bang goes the Equity Release me thinks also.

    On that note and whilst dusting my dashboard, and thinking at least I still have my car even if I cannot drive anywhere. (Bloody road tax has gone up, can’t even drive and I am getting in the neck from the government as well). I’ve also noticed that fuel is cheaper than normal and I have a full tank because I cannot go anywhere, salt in the wound or what! 

    Having now lost everything including my phone, could not keep Direct Debit payments or something like that, along lapsed Funeral insurances. no address no way of getting hold of SHELTER, no way of getting my regular “Pup Dates”, no where to put all my cuddly TIGER. JAGUAR, LABRADOR and SNOW LEOPARD. i cannot even find a free public toilet (Like the ones I helped Sangita build) to clean up in.
    Yesterday a kind Policeman informed me that I should take care as the wooden bench that I was sitting on may have been touched by someone who may have been infected! CHRIST is there no where sacred.

    Finally have you ever tried to get a prescription when your address is My Car and the post code is the Registration Number, trust me its difficult to say the least.

    Anyway you all keep safe out there I’m off now for a ride around Cambourne using my Bus pass, socially distancing of course. It breaks the day up. 
    And I have forgotten which day it is.

  2. Profound stuff JWJ. I am just shouting at PMQs as BOJO once again has failed to mention the Lawrence case and the bogus WMD case to ex DPP Starmer.

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