Coronavirus is making us strangely productive – the allotment has never looked so good, we’re righting decades-old wrongs and… bleaching carrier bags
Conventional wisdom says that it’s The Devil who makes work for idle hands to do.
But, if our family is anything to go by, the lockdown has actually unleashed the work ethic and creative juices that lurk – if you look hard enough – in the breast of every right-thinking Brit.
We’re still working from home but – as we don’t have to spend time on commuting, make-up or dressing properly – we have become wildly productive in some unexpected areas.
The missus is spending her exercise ration at the allotment, so she’s dug virtually everything, planted and added topsoil, weeded, watered, cut back, mulched & Strulched.
Asked to do my bit by digging some potato trenches – a job I normally hate, because almost all the earth you dig out keeps falling back into the trench – I delivered, pronto and without demur.
Back at home, we normally employ a cleaner, but she can’t risk even socially-distanced contact with us anymore because her husband’s health is iffy.
So far we’ve cleaned for ourselves twice and – because it’s our own house – we’ve started getting at places that haven’t seen a vacuum or a cloth in years.
With his massive nut, The Henry is the Harry Maguire of vacuums. Also like Maguire, you’d like it if he cleared up a tiny bit more”
Last week, I Henry-d up the thick dust under the washing basket and the heavy trunk of sports gear that my wife swears hasn’t been done since her maternity leave 16 years ago.
But I’m not really getting on with The Henry: his big head keeps getting stuck behind door frames, chairs and baskets, like a kid who pushes his bonce between railings and needs butter on his ears to ease him out.
In terms of his massive nut, then, The Henry is the Harry Maguire of vacuums. Also like Maguire, you’d like it if he managed to clear up a tiny bit more.
My son’s triumph has humiliated me, but removed the dark secret lurking in our downstairs toilet since the Blair government”
Even our 16-year-old son has sprung to life during lockdown. Once he’d used up his Amazon Prime trial month and shaved his head, he started running and lifting weights, then fixed a radio I didn’t have the minerals to put right.
Most impressive of all, though, he put together a teak garden chair that we bought long before he was born – the twin of which almost put me onto the psych ward back in the late 1990s.
At the time, I blamed the chair’s shitty instructions and user-maddening wooden pegs. but the fact that The Lad took only 30 minutes to do the thing that had haunted me for two decades rather told its own story.
And, though my son’s triumph has implicitly humiliated me, it has at least removed the dark secret lurking in the depths of my psyche – and in our downstairs toilet – since the first Tony Blair government.
It was also The Lad who also prompted me into my meisterwerk of domestic God-dery this week: peering at the 10 years’ worth of worn-out trainers at the bottom of my wardrobe and commenting: “You got bare shoes, fam.”
“These are clearly not normal times… I bleached about 20 carrier bags“
I’d not found the energy in the 10 years before lockdown to clear them out, but these are clearly not normal times.
I set to them with a will – dumping all 27 shoes into the bathtub and scrubbing the muck of ages off them with a metal scourer.
It gave me an unexpected warm glow to think of African teenagers with massive feet like mine – I’m thinking Nwankwo Kanu types – maybe getting their first pair of shoes because I’d finally got round to cleaning out the closet.
Afterwards, I hung them all up on the line in the sun and – because the clothing bank wanted them both clean and in bags – bleached about 20 carriers that Ocado weren’t taking back in case they had Coronavirus.
As soon as I’d hung the now impeccable bags up to dry, mrsshit50s leapt up and sent a picture to her sisters on WhatsApp. The caption? “Someone’s got too much time on their hands.”