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Our regular South London columnist, with the wit of Fleabag and the insight of Marge Simpson.


Just as I’m nicely furloughed off Darling, (not really!) and settling into another day of imaginative ways to cook courgettes, (tip: try with some peanut butter!) (sorry – no – forget that – like all your friends, you are already being bombarded with that chain email asking you to forward a recipe to 20 contacts, aren’t you? Or has it imploded yet?) then the long arm of the Editor reaches out across cyberspace and asks me for some thoughts on Life in Lockdown for the online Darling. Actually, 5 dandelions have opened in my lawn, so that is my day sorted, getting them out. But also, this is the exact topic NOBODY can write about at the moment, because it is already being done so much better by frontline medical staff for the New York Times, hilarious columnists in our various newspapers, bloggers, vloggers, vicars, tweeters, tiktockers, whatsappers, boffins, biologists, my Uncle Raymond, and all. There is nothing I can tell you about my Life in Lockdown that somebody else hasn’t already said better. I tidied a cupboard. WE ALL TIDIED A CUPBOARD. I know a poor person who has caught coronavirus. WE ALL….and so on. Nothing funny has even happened. Oh well, no, that’s not true, but you can’t snitch on what you overhear coming from the next-door neighbours. Plenty of very unfunny things have happened to people I care a lot about, but this is not the place for it. I suppose a roundup of my family and friends’ less serious complaints might strike a chord, however, so here goes…!

The roots problem

Choice – a grey strip down the middle of your head, or a terrible home dye job.

The men’s haircut problem

Choice – shave your head and look like a bovver boy or, like my partner, start to resemble a mad professor who has been electrocuted.

The running out of booze problem

Choice – do without (ha ha) or risk arrest driving to Luton in search of an ‘offie’ that’s rumoured to be open.

The key item shortage

Choice – do without barrel-aged feta and spelt flour. You always managed before.

The finding your parents incredibly annoying problem. This strikes young people locked down with their elders and betters. There is no solution.

The virtue-signalling WhatsApp group problem

Choice – ‘Leave the Group’ and be bitched about or ask everybody to sponsor your Netflix binge.

The vivid dreams about Boris Johnson problem

Choice – do not mention them to your partner for fear of arousing irrational jealousy, or do.

The Zoom freeze problem

Choice – use it as a chance to sneak to the fridge or wait till it comes back on just as you are picking your nose.

And finally, a problem which seems to be dogging almost everybody – the sense that while half the country are busting a gut to save our lives and put food on our tables, we can’t even finish that tapestry of a kitten we started in 1987. Let alone learn Spanish.

Of course, we are all obsessed by when and how this will end. Summer 2020 is cancelled. Things like Glastonbury and Wimbledon are sadly stuffed, but now I just yearn to spend time with my family and meet my chums in a pub garden. But the prospect of catching this virus is very frightening, and for our older loved-ones even more so. Will we dare venture out even? But the livelihoods lost the longer the lockdown goes on is also horrible to think about. We have to get out! You only have to turn on the TV every day at 5pm for the graphs, the data, the updates, to see that we are still in a bind. I’m going to end with a massive shout-out to all the children locked up at home and their heroic parents and distance-teachers. For every puff of boredom and frustration I’m feeling, I remember enough about ‘those days’ to wish all of you first priority release from this, and a medal in patient resilience!

Hang on in there!

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