It feels like there will come a time when future generations will look back on this time and ask ‘What was it like?’. I feel like I should be keeping some kind of diary – and yet, in truth, I have little to say.
A front-line medic would. A doctor, a nurse, a paramedic, a care worker. Other key workers too; those so recently dismissed by the government as earning too little to justify their place in the UK: the shop workers, the delivery staff, the refuse collectors and all the millions of people needed to keep the country running …
All of them are working in a very different environment. They would, I’m sure, have interesting stories to tell. But me, not so much.
My work is largely unchanged
My work continues largely unchanged. Back in the research days, when my work required lots of face-to-face contact with consumers, I’d have been in big trouble. But since I returned to writing, my Before and After work life is much the same. I’ve worked from home since 2007 (as well as 1984 to 1997), so this is mostly business as usual for me.
The corporate work did dry up overnight, but that was only ever bonus money. It’s the editorial writing that pays the bills, and while that’s taken a small hit, I’m not hurting financially.
My health likewise
Steph remains ill with, rather perversely, something we very much hope is COVID-19. If it is, then she’s getting it out of the way relatively early, and with flu-like symptoms. Unpleasant and exhausting, but not life-threatening or life-changing.
If it is indeed the coronavirus, the GP’s assumption is that I will have caught it from her. Given that her symptoms started three weeks ago, and I’ve had no symptoms at all (though see Tiredness, below), then that would make me one of the lucky, asymptomatic ones.
In the best of worlds, then, we’ll both emerge immune. Once antibody testing is available to all, that would enable us to resume normal(ish) life. But we won’t know that without testing: the other possibility is Steph has flu (against which I’ve been vaccinated), and we still have COVID-19 to come at some point.
I say above that I’ve had no symptoms, and I think that’s accurate. I have been unusually tired, but I think that’s explained by three factors.
First, a crash from the adrenaline rush of tango. I’ve experienced something similar in the past. Back in my research days, I was typically travelling to five countries in six weeks, and working at least 12-hour days throughout. I managed that perfectly well, but as soon as a project ended, I’d crash. Suddenly the lack of sleep and constantly buzzing brain would catch up with me. I think this is the same. As soon as the adrenaline is gone, the tiredness hits.
Second, I know from experience that failing to get enough exercise leaves me tired. Tango doesn’t feel like exercise, but my Apple Watch assured me it was. Since that stopped, I wasn’t getting any kind of exercise on a consistent basis. I’ve been doing some cycling, tango technique exercises, and a workout routine provided by a fitness and pilates instructor friend – but none of it consistently. As of yesterday, that has changed: I’m now doing at least one of the three every day.
Third, looking after Steph while she’s been ill.
So I think tiredness can be explained without reference to COVID-19.
Cycling is a saviour
Government guidelines allow everyone out once a day for exercise, with walking, running and cycling all officially sanctioned.
Prior to tango, cycling was my usual way to get around London. Tango put a stop to that, as almost the only places I was going were milongas and classes, and I didn’t want to arrive sweaty. Now, though, cycling, has become a real saviour of my sanity. It’s enabling me to return to a much-loved activity, and to get plenty of change of scenery while exercising.
I can cycle 5-10 miles in the guideline 30-60 minutes, and in central London that covers plenty of ground.
The ultimate FWP: tango withdrawal
You know you live a pretty privileged life when your biggest problem is acute tango withdrawal syndrome! As First World Problems go, that’s got to be close to the ultimate example.
But, just the same, I do miss it terribly. And, in truth, it’s the biggest difference to my life by far.
Things will improve when Steph is well enough to dance. The difference in our levels (me, 16 months*; her, eight years) means we usually only dance together about one tanda per month. But as I’m the only tanguero in the village, she may have to take what she can get!
*I guess the clock stopped when the milongas did. So I’ll be a 16-month dancer for some months to come yet.
So no coronavirus diary from me
This, then, is why I’m not keeping a coronavirus diary. If you want to know what my life is like tomorrow, it’ll be much the same as it was today.
There was one exception: yesterday. I dragged myself out of bed at 6.45am on a Sunday morning so that I could cycle around an empty London. That was a day I won’t forget. I’m sure there will be other memorable days, just … not most of them.