I mean no disrespect to my friends and family in the United States, but the thriller-like suspense of the presidential election has been a welcome distraction from the shenanigans here in the UK. Arizona and Nevada, the world is counting on you!
Lockdown 2.0 is here but the list of venues exempt (or unilaterally exempting themselves) from the lockdown, seems longer than the actual places shut. While you can’t visit a clothes store, get a haircut or work out at the gym, you can still get a takeout coffee, and croissant from multiple cafes and bakeries and grocery stores are busy as usual.
A dry cleaner we occasionally use remains open through the lockdown because apparently getting one’s shirts and trousers professionally cleaned and pressed is an ‘essential’ service. Dentists, GPs, opticians, and garden centres are also open, and while you’re not allowed to play tennis outdoors, you can visit an outdoor playground. In other words, the rules of this lockdown are about as confusing and inconsistent as just about every policy brought forth by this government.
Will the lockdown make any difference to the infection rate? Probably not, unless we finally get that much-touted and much-promised ‘world-beating’ test and trace system.
Speaking of the government, why isn’t Boris Johnson’s hair showing any signs of going grey? Mine is greying at a much faster rate than his, and I am several years younger, and not in charge of running a country during a pandemic. Watching Prime Minister’s Questions this week, I gleefully noted that Johnson’s hair seems to be thinning a bit, even though it’s as blond as ever. In contrast, Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, is sporting multiple strands of grey on his head, and he’s only 40 years old and father of two, whereas Johnson is 56 and has at least six children. In fact, it appears that virtually every member of the cabinet, as well as Labour’s shadow cabinet, is going grey from stress and hard work. Everyone except the prime minister.
My obsession with grey hair aside, politics has indeed become an almost unbearable spectacle, and I find myself longing for a simpler world without politics. I try not to harbour regrets for past misdeeds in my life, but I can’t help wondering if I’d been happier had I studied zoology at university, instead of political science. My Twitter feed is saturated with endearing video clips of orphaned elephants enjoying a dust bath and playing with each other, and I can’t stop watching. Yes, I think to myself, elephants got the work/life balance figured out, they know how to live a good life. As long as humans don’t get in the way of it, of course.
Contingency plans for Christmas are being made; bagfuls of Swedish meatballs have been bought and frozen as emergency Christmas dinner for the kids, in the event we’re unable to travel to Sweden. We’re also investing in an artificial Christmas tree so that, contrary to family tradition, we can enjoy a festive home environment for the entire month of December. If I am lucky, the kids will grow so tired of all things Christmas-y that come Christmas Eve, they won’t really care where they are, what they do, or eat.
Always looking for a silver lining; Christmas in London is unlikely to allow for the pleasure of rolling in snow, but we might at least have some fun jumping in muddy puddles.