pink peonies

The Lockdown Diaries: Week Whatever-The-Hell-It-Is-Now, Who Even Knows Any More?

On Monday morning, a water pipe burst outside our village, and left us with just a trickle of water for over 24 hours.

In the great scheme of things, it wasn’t a huge deal. We had (just) enough water pressure to keep ourselves hydrated, and OK, Terry and I both had to go without showers, and I filled Max’s bath that night with water from the kettle, but still: worse things have happened, right? And, as we all know from our experiences on the internet, if worse things have happened – to anyone, anywhere – why, you are not allowed to complain.

So we did not complain.

(Other than in this blog post, obviously, which – SPOILER ALERT – may include some complaining. Don’t say I didn’t warn you…)

Instead, we waited. And, when the water finally came back on, early on Tuesday afternoon, I jumped into the shower (Just to make matters worse, I had discovered the loss of water pressure right after a workout, so I REALLY needed that shower…), only to find that our water-related troubles were not yet over.

The shower ran freezing cold, than scalding hot, with nothing in between. I couldn’t even stand under it for more than a second at a time, and, honestly, it felt like the last straw. Instead of just calmly getting back out and waiting another few hours for it to return to normal, I found myself screaming in outrage, and only just managing to stop myself wrenching the bloody thing off the wall in a temper. I was SO angry that, in those few seconds, all I wanted to do was BREAK something – ideally something REALLY big, that it would take a satisfyingly long time to thoroughly destroy.

You know that scene in Office Space, where they smash up the photocopier to the sound of “Damn, it feels good to be a gangsta?” That would be me. I would be the “gangsta”. The photocopier would be EVERYTHING I COULD GET MY HANDS ON, SO HELP ME GOD. And, DAMN, it would feel GOOD.


It… wasn’t really about the shower, needless to say.

No, it was about the shower AND the internet that’s gone down repeatedly this summer, plus the washing machine that kept breaking, and all of the other silly little niggling problems that have combined to make even the tiniest, most insignificant task feel difficult this year.

It was about the shortening days and the increasingly dark nights: the plummeting temperature, and the growing knowledge that Halloween, and Christmas, and all of the other things that normally help me drag myself through the saddest months of the year will be very, very different this year: if they even happen at all.

It was about the pandemic, and the lockdown, and the anxiety, and the depression, and the way that every time I upload another pretty, colourful photo to Instagram, I feel like I’m effectively lying to people, because I always look like I’m having fun in those photos, but the truth is, I have not been having any fun. Not really.

It was about pretty much every single aspect of this endless, joyless year: about how, no matter what it looks like on Instagram, all we really do these days is wait for these days to be over, so we can get some of our lives back: so we can start living again, rather than just existing. So we can feel better.

It was about 2020, in other words: and the knowledge that it’s not quite done with us yet. Sometimes it just GETS to you, though, doesn’t it?


A couple of hours after my ill-fated attempt a shower, Nicola Sturgeon announced that, from today, people in Scotland are to be banned from entering each other’s houses: a move which will once again effectively isolate people like Terry and my parents – plus the thousands like them – who are too vulnerable to meet up in pubs and restaurants (Which they are, bizarrely, still allowed to visit…), and who – along with the rest of country – are about to be plunged into the kind of weather which will make outdoor meetings less and less possible.

This time around, however, the rules are even less logical than the last time we found ourselves separated from friends and family, with the biggest difference being that Max is apparently still allowed to go into my parents’ house for “informal childcare” purposes, while Terry and I will have to remain outside, and then arrange to meet them in the pub later. (Don’t worry, we won’t…) Which is allowed. Because, for some reason it would apparently be MUCH too dangerous for us to have a socially-distanced visit with my parents at home, but totally fine for us to all go into a pub or restaurant together – something none of us have felt comfortable enough to do yet.

Similarly, we will no longer be able to visit Terry’s brother – who’s been working from home since March, and who has followed all of the social distancing rules to the letter – in either of our homes, but it would be fine for us to meet with him in a crowded public place. Yes.

I have to admit, I’m struggling to understand the apparent “logic” of all of this – and I’m REALLY struggling not to feel angry at being expected to just unquestioningly accept things that make absolutely no sense whatsoever. (I mean, if Max is still allowed to see my parents as normal, then he’ll presumably still be able to pass the virus between us all, whether Terry and I enter their house or not…)

I’m about as law-abiding and risk-averse as it gets, but even I can’t help resenting a rule which forbids me from doing something I know to be safe, while encouraging me to do do something I consider risky instead, and it’s hard not to feel like these new restrictions will just punish the people who’ve been following the guidelines anyway, while allowing those who’ve been ignoring them to carry on as they were.

But here we are: once again forbidden from entering my childhood home, and facing another six months (Which is how long we’ve been told these latest restrictions might last: buh-bye Christmas…) without one of the few things that was helping us get through this year: the very small amount of contact we were able to have with an equally small group of family or friends. It’s going to be a long, hard, lonely winter: which. … kind of sucks, really: and yes, it IS OK to admit that, even though it could be worse. Because, let’s face it: in 2020, if it COULD be worse, then it probably WILL be… won’t it?

Still: the shower is working again this morning – at least that’s something

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  • Becky


    We are in England and I’m struggling to get my head around these latest restrictions. Like you, the rules make no sense to me. I am also happy to abide by a rule or a law if I can understand it, but I’m so confused right now! I cannot for the life of me understand the point of a 10pm curfew for pubs and restaurants? It’s not like CV basically only transmits at 10.01pm every day and up until that point it stays locked away quietly in a little cupboard somewhere. Surely all this is doing is telling people to go and drink, then head over to someone’s house (in groups of 6, but as many households as your want?!) and finish the party there? I genuinely believe now that the Government is more interested in keeping people spending money than on getting us through this as fast as possible. About the only blessing I can see is that with baby no 2 on the way in November (although don’t even get me started on the labour ward restrictions – after 4cm dilated you can have your partner in the room with you but before is too dangerous? 40 minutes contact after the birth is fine for the partner but 41 minutes isn’t and they have to leave now thank you very much?) at least my other half is going to be working from home for a while post birth. Not quite an extended paternity leave, but definitely more time at home than I was expecting!

    September 23, 2020
  • Anna


    Dear Amber,
    You are a strong women and you can deal with everything, even if it means destroying a few things along the way. ????. Rules don’t make sense anymore. Not to go into the politics, but protests are OK, going to the church is not (?) I wonder how many people will be OK physically, but not OK mentally. Use common sense and do what you think is best for your family.
    Stay safe!

    September 23, 2020
    • CoffeeSLP


      Heh. In the US, here, and I know of one church that is considering registering itself as a protest so that its congregants can gather outside.

      September 25, 2020
  • Mary Katherine


    Oh, Amber, I hear you loud and clear! Why shouldn’t we all be angry? We have very good reason to, even though “it’s no one’s fault”. Go smash something, and find a place to scream your head off. Do what you know to be safe and just don’t advertise the rest. I’m a terribly annoying optimist, but this all REALLY sucks, especially if you begin to dwell on how it didn’t have to be this way, but there’s no point in that. You just keep your family safe and healthy, including MENTALLY, and we won’t whisper a word…

    September 23, 2020
  • Myra Boyle


    I’ve been there, broke something and then had to clean up the mess (several times – no control) so I’m glad you didn’t go that far. I’m like you, I don’t get their logic, I don’t think they have any, but what winds me up more than that is the conspiracy theorists saying it’s all a hoax, don’t wear masks because it contravenes human rights; they just want to exert control via compliance. That makes no sense to me, even more than the illogical rules. And I hate them telling me I’m a sheep because I don’t think like them.
    I’d like to say roll on 2021, but I’m not even sure it will be over by then. The best we can all do is to stay as safe as possible and look after those we love. ????

    September 23, 2020
  • Nicola


    There IS actually logic around the rule about pubs/restaurants being allowed and not visits within private residences, but sadly the logic only applies because people haven’t been following the rules for private gatherings. The short version is that hospitality venues have rules for ventilation and hygiene, and people tend to follow the rules more closely when they’re out in public. So essentially everyone who HAS been following the rules for private gatherings is being penalised because other people just couldn’t figure out how to stay 2m apart from their friends or wear a mask (meanwhile, the only person I’ve seen in the last month other than my husband was my VET).

    September 24, 2020
  • Eliska


    Dear Amber, don’t worry, rules make no sense also in the Czech Republic. At least there’ve been created a lot of jokes like that the virus is going to sleep at 10pm 😀 We’re having elections next week and I really don’t want to see what the government will come up with afterwards. Now they still need voters… I’m starting to take that all as a “military exercise”. Hopeffuly 2021 will be better at least little bit. Take care! E.

    September 27, 2020
  • E


    How is the rule about not entering other people’s homes possibly enforceable? As in, how would “they” know if you went to your parents’ house for dinner? This is absurd!

    October 1, 2020
  • mariskova


    Hi! I came here incidentally after googling key words related to lockdown. I have given up thinking that we’ll be okay soon and have given in to swearing a lot in an attempt to stay more sane and realistic. Haven’t tried to be the gangsta, though 🙂
    Greetings from Indonesia.

    October 19, 2020
  • Jennie


    This post so much!!! It drove me mad that I was forced to do something more risky to follow the rules than do something much safer ???? Which bizarrely means I am less annoyed now we are in full lockdown and they’ve finally shut the bloody pubs…

    January 10, 2021