Lockdown Diary: Balloons again

Lily’s very cute three-year-old half-sister came round earlier. She was very excited as the whole house is still decked out in confetti and balloons from last weekend’s party. I said she could have some balloons to take home, but Lily was a bit sad to lose her balloons, so I’ve now rashly promised to keep buying and blowing up balloons so that the whole house is always festooned with them! I buy them cheaply in big packs so they’ll cost me less than £40 a year.

Pretty sure this is bonkers but it does make the house look very bright and happy, so why not?!

This post has been made possible by my awesome Patreon supporters Peter Weilgony, Ricky Steer, Charlie Brooker, Mary and Tim Fowler, Steve Richards, Alan Brookland, Mark Ormandy, Oliver Vass, Keith Bell, John Fleming, Mark Bailey, Rebekah Bennetch, Matthew Sylvester, Brian Engler, Jack Scanlan, Dave Nattriss, MusicalComedyGuide.com, Aragorn Strider, Mark White, Lucy Spencer, Shane Jarvis, Emily Hill and Marcus P Knight.

If you enjoyed this blog, please support me on Patreon from just £1 a month and you’ll get to read a lot more of my writing.

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Lockdown Diary: Touch

I miss touching people. Hugging them, and holding hands, and having massages. I spoke to my humanist funeral celebrant mentor yesterday, and we discussed how achingly sad it is that people with coronavirus have to die without their loved ones there holding their hands, and that their relatives are not allowed to comfort each other at funerals.

The power of human contact and touch can’t be underestimated. Loneliness is one of the biggest killers, alongside stress, malnutrition and lack of exercise. Babies who are held thrive more and grow faster than those who aren’t.

Lockdown is necessary right now. It’s also devastating to many. I hope we’re through to the other side very soon.

This post has been made possible by my awesome Patreon supporters Peter Weilgony, Ricky Steer, Charlie Brooker, Mary and Tim Fowler, Steve Richards, Alan Brookland, Mark Ormandy, Oliver Vass, Keith Bell, John Fleming, Mark Bailey, Rebekah Bennetch, Matthew Sylvester, Brian Engler, Jack Scanlan, Dave Nattriss, MusicalComedyGuide.com, Aragorn Strider, Mark White, Lucy Spencer, Shane Jarvis, Emily Hill and Marcus P Knight.

If you enjoyed this blog, please support me on Patreon from just £1 a month and you’ll get to read a lot more of my writing.

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Lockdown Diary: Journal

Yesterday I started a journal. I used my 2019/2020 diary which I had yet to write in. Better late than never!

My journal differs from this blog (which is good, as there wouldn’t be much point in my writing it otherwise). It’s more about my innermost thoughts than events, and I think it would be tremendously boring to anyone else. I’m not worrying about whether it’s entertaining or readable; I just want to make sense of the stuff inside my head, and am finding it incredibly cathartic.

I had therapy on and off for 23 years and it can be wonderfully life-changing. I stopped my sessions when Talk Yourself Better came out in October 2018, and haven’t restarted. There are a couple of reasons why I stopped: firstly, I felt as though I no longer needed it — or at least, that it wasn’t value for money/time for me anymore as I was pretty much fine (and still am, hence not restarting); secondly, I wasn’t sure my therapist was right for me.

But even in two days of writing the journal, I’ve been able to make some headway on my goals. Just being totally honest with myself is therapeutic, and you can be even more honest with a diary than you can with a person, as you’re unlikely to be able to hurt its feelings. It can’t annoy you, either, or vice versa. Plus it’s a tangible record of how you’ve changed over time.

I totally love journalling and would recommend it (and/or therapy) to anyone who genuinely wants to change their life for the better.

This post has been made possible by my awesome Patreon supporters Peter Weilgony, Ricky Steer, Charlie Brooker, Mary and Tim Fowler, Steve Richards, Alan Brookland, Mark Ormandy, Oliver Vass, Keith Bell, John Fleming, Mark Bailey, Rebekah Bennetch, Matthew Sylvester, Brian Engler, Jack Scanlan, Dave Nattriss, MusicalComedyGuide.com, Aragorn Strider, Mark White, Lucy Spencer, Shane Jarvis, Emily Hill and Marcus P Knight.

If you enjoyed this blog, please support me on Patreon from just £1 a month and you’ll get to read a lot more of my writing.

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Lockdown Diary: A very happy birthday!

Lockdown schmockdown! It was Lily’s 9th birthday on Saturday and we weren’t going to let pesky quarantine restrictions get in the way of having a good time. Sure, we couldn’t have the big science party we’d planned to have in a hall with lots of kids and fantastic experiments (slime, sherbet, explosions), as we were restricted to our house – and of course, none of her friends could come round, only her dad (as we’re effectively the same household because she moves between our houses). But we absolutely weren’t going to let that stop us from having fun!

cake

When she and her dad arrived at my house at lunchtime, we all sat down at the kitchen table and ate cake (well, they ate cake – I ate carrots!). I didn’t lay on much of a spread as there were only three of us.birthday-feast

lily-signs

After eating, we went out into the garden and Lily took some selfies with us in the sunshine. Here we are:

lil-and-mum-garden

As has been well-documented on this blog, I am not exactly the flushest of people (hence my constant Patreon appeals). But what little spare money I do have, I spend on Lily. My childhood was a hellscape of joylessness and deprivation, so I’m determined to make hers full of happiness and delight. She is the best girl ever, and thoroughly deserves to be made a proper fuss of on her special day.

lily-smiling

So I spent around £300, redesigned her room and got her 58 presents in the process – most of them small, some costing as little as £1. I bought them all at the start of February, mostly from Tiger, and I’m very glad I did, as it would have been impossible to get them after lockdown (Tiger don’t have an online store).

presents

Lily previously had a Harry Potter bedroom designed by me, as she was a big fan of the books. It was very stylish (blowing my own trumpet here and making a loud farting noise) with monochrome and tones of beige, gold and grey, but she said that it ‘wasn’t cosy’ and that she wanted a more colourful and childlike room. Here’s what her room looked like before:

lily-hp-bedroom-bedlily-hp-bedroom-desklily-hp-bedroom-telly

She barely spent any time in there, so I decided to make it a lot more welcoming – a riot of colour that meant she would love doing her arts and crafts in her room. It was quite straightforward: I just changed all the pictures and dark frames to cute animal art in white frames, hid away all her dark and neutral-toned stuff, removed the decals and striped duvet cover, and filled the room with balloons, confetti and presents for her to unwrap. And here’s the result!

lily-telly

bedroom-desk

giraffe-art

sloth-art§§

bedside-table

As well as all my presents, she also got lots of amazing gifts from my fantastic Patreon supporters Lucy, Emily, John and Oliver, as well as Graham and my mum (and of course, her dad and stepmum). She opened their presents in front of them over FaceTime.

She also had two Zoom chats, the first with lots of kids from her class, and the second with her two best friends. They played Hangman on screen (a game I remember from my own childhood) and did gymnastics in front of each other.

lily-happy

At the end of the day, she announced that she loved her new bedroom and that this had been her ‘best birthday ever!’ Which is quite a pronouncement given the circumstances. I love that she can be so philosophical and find the joy and beauty in any situation. I love her so much.

eyeshadow

This post has been made possible by my awesome Patreon supporters Peter Weilgony, Ricky Steer, Charlie Brooker, Mary and Tim Fowler, Steve Richards, Alan Brookland, Mark Ormandy, Oliver Vass, Keith Bell, John Fleming, Mark Bailey, Rebekah Bennetch, Matthew Sylvester, Brian Engler, Jack Scanlan, Dave Nattriss, MusicalComedyGuide.com, Aragorn Strider, Mark White, Lucy Spencer, Shane Jarvis, Emily Hill and Marcus P Knight.

If you enjoyed this blog, please support me on Patreon from just £1 a month and you’ll get to read a lot more of my writing.

 

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Lockdown Diary: Confetti

I was planning to write a blog post about Lily’s birthday today, but I spent most of it looking after the brilliant and indefatigable birthday girl and am now knackered. I had sprinkled confetti all over the house to make it bright and beautiful, but here is a picture of one of my socks after a long day of walking on confetti:

confetti-sock

Next time I might stick to balloons!

This post has been made possible by my awesome Patreon supporters Peter Weilgony, Ricky Steer, Charlie Brooker, Mary and Tim Fowler, Steve Richards, Alan Brookland, Mark Ormandy, Oliver Vass, Keith Bell, John Fleming, Mark Bailey, Rebekah Bennetch, Matthew Sylvester, Brian Engler, Jack Scanlan, Dave Nattriss, MusicalComedyGuide.com, Aragorn Strider, Mark White, Lucy Spencer, Shane Jarvis, Emily Hill and Marcus P Knight.

If you enjoyed this blog, please support me on Patreon from just £1 a month and you’ll get to read a lot more of my writing.

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Lockdown Diary: Birthday!

It’s the big day and I’ve spent the last two days blowing up balloons! (With a pump – my lung capacity isn’t that great.) Now I have to go and do one final hoover before the birthday girl arrives! She’s so excited and it’s so cute. Can’t wait to see her.

Balloons

This post has been made possible by my awesome Patreon supporters Peter Weilgony, Ricky Steer, Charlie Brooker, Mary and Tim Fowler, Steve Richards, Alan Brookland, Mark Ormandy, Oliver Vass, Keith Bell, John Fleming, Mark Bailey, Rebekah Bennetch, Matthew Sylvester, Brian Engler, Jack Scanlan, Dave Nattriss, MusicalComedyGuide.com, Aragorn Strider, Mark White, Lucy Spencer, Shane Jarvis, Emily Hill and Marcus P Knight.

If you enjoyed this blog, please support me on Patreon from just £1 a month and you’ll get to read a lot more of my writing.

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Lockdown Diary: Busy!

Just a tiny bloggette today as tomorrow is the big day: Lily’s 9th birthday! So I’m rushing around blowing up balloons and wrapping presents and generally making the house look as amazing for my sweet girl as possible. Another mini-blog tomorrow then full birthday blog to follow on Sunday evening!

This post has been made possible by my awesome Patreon supporters Peter Weilgony, Ricky Steer, Charlie Brooker, Mary and Tim Fowler, Steve Richards, Alan Brookland, Mark Ormandy, Oliver Vass, Keith Bell, John Fleming, Mark Bailey, Rebekah Bennetch, Matthew Sylvester, Brian Engler, Jack Scanlan, Dave Nattriss, MusicalComedyGuide.com, Aragorn Strider, Mark White, Lucy Spencer, Shane Jarvis, Emily Hill and Marcus P Knight.

If you enjoyed this blog, please support me on Patreon from just £1 a month and you’ll get to read a lot more of my writing.

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Lockdown Diary: Bleurrgh!

I eventually received the Thriva kit through the post. I ordered it last Thursday and it arrived yesterday, so took a whopping six days to get here. I think the postal service is a bit broken right now, which is unsurprising.

Anyhow, when I opened it, a renewed sense of confidence surged through me: ‘I can do this! How hard can it be?’ So I emailed Thriva to tell them I’d had a change of heart, and they took my money again and reactivated the test kit.

I watched the instruction video. When discussing the needle, the nice lady doctor said ‘it’s only a small prick’. Now, I’ve had a lot of small pricks in my time and have often barely felt a thing, so my misplaced confidence continued unabated.

There were loads of instructions. You had to fast for 12 hours, drink lots of water, do arm exercises, soak your hand in a bowl of warm water for two minutes, swab your fingers with an alcohol wipe, and make sure the kit was laid out on a low table.

You then had to make sure you were standing up, with your hand held below your elbow, uncap the tubes which would hold the blood, stand them up in the cardboard kit, and finally twist the top off the lancet. I was FaceTiming my mate Graham throughout and he had a vaguely nonplussed look on his face – he’s given blood more than 50 times and donated his stem cells for a bone marrow transplant twice last year, so didn’t understand why I was making such a fuss!

I placed my hand on the table and pressed the lancet down on my ring finger of my left hand, as instructed. Nothing happened. I tried again, pressed harder, and after a few seconds I felt a click and a sharp pain. I took the lancet away and a drop of bright red blood welled up on my fingertip.

I wiped it away with a kitchen towel, as instructed, but my finger was hurting, and when it came to squeezing more blood out, I suddenly felt faint and as though I was about to throw up. What a wuss! Pathetically, I had to lie down on the sofa with my legs raised until the nausea subsided. I think it’s safe to say that being a phlebotomist is not in my future.

My left ring finger is bruised and now hurts to type, so I dread to think what kind of state it would have been in if I’d actually extracted the blood from it. Probably the same as this braver Thriva-tester’s. Here is the finger (bet you thought I was exaggerating!)

IMG_6334

I threw the Thriva kit away as even the sight of it was making me feel faint, then emailed their long-suffering service operative and confessed to being their worst customer. They refunded me again and sent me a nice email:

Hi Ariane,

Thank you for getting back to us and no worries.

I’m really sorry to hear that you’ve had such trouble collecting your Thriva blood sample.

While most people find it an easy experience, we understand that some people’s blood clots much quicker than others. And that the process of drawing blood isn’t always easy at first.

I’ve cancelled your test and have given you a full refund minus £7 for the cost of the kit – as they’re classed as medical equipment and can’t be returned to us.

We’re actually in the process of finding an alternative blood collection method that we’ll be able to bring in within the next 12 months. So if you’re still interested in our tests in the future, then keep an eye on our website.

Let us know if you have any other questions.

Best,
Jack

I thanked Jack and didn’t tell him that my failure to collect the sample had nothing to do with clotting, but with my frankly cowardly constitution. Still, they got £7 out of me – but sadly, no blood.

This post has been made possible by my awesome Patreon supporters Peter Weilgony, Ricky Steer, Charlie Brooker, Mary and Tim Fowler, Steve Richards, Alan Brookland, Mark Ormandy, Oliver Vass, Keith Bell, John Fleming, Mark Bailey, Rebekah Bennetch, Matthew Sylvester, Brian Engler, Jack Scanlan, Dave Nattriss, MusicalComedyGuide.com, Aragorn Strider, Mark White, Lucy Spencer, Shane Jarvis, Emily Hill and Marcus P Knight.

If you enjoyed this blog, please support me on Patreon from just £1 a month and you’ll get to read a lot more of my writing.

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Lockdown Diary: House

I love my house but it takes a long time to clean. That sounds like such a daft complaint – ‘Oh no, my car’s just too expensive, it costs loads to insure!’ ‘Oh woe is me, I’m too beautiful and guys keep hitting on me!’ – but frankly I have lost months of my life to this house, just scrubbing and washing and wiping and dusting. I am very proud of it though, when it looks neat and tidy and gorgeous.

Lily is coming home this weekend and we’re celebrating her ninth birthday, and her present (in 40 wrapped packages, thankfully mostly bought from Tiger before lockdown hit) is a brand new bedroom! Currently she has a Harry Potter bedroom and it’s very stylish but all a bit austere, in black and white and beige. She wants it to look more childlike and colourful, so the first step is to clean it thoroughly – which is what I’ll be doing today.

I’m going to put on music to make the chores more fun, and will put up photos of the transformation here this weekend.

This post has been made possible by my awesome Patreon supporters Peter Weilgony, Ricky Steer, Charlie Brooker, Mary and Tim Fowler, Steve Richards, Alan Brookland, Mark Ormandy, Oliver Vass, Keith Bell, John Fleming, Mark Bailey, Rebekah Bennetch, Matthew Sylvester, Brian Engler, Jack Scanlan, Dave Nattriss, MusicalComedyGuide.com, Aragorn Strider, Mark White, Lucy Spencer, Shane Jarvis, Emily Hill and Marcus P Knight.

If you enjoyed this blog, please support me on Patreon from just £1 a month and you’ll get to read a lot more of my writing.

 

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Lockdown Diary: Carbs

Yesterday it came out that tennis player Novak Djokovic is an anti-vaxxer, so I joked on Twitter that his name should be NoVaxx.

Then a friend replied, ‘There’s an interview clip where he says just holding bread/gluten over his stomach (why was he doing this?) saps him of strength…’. This sounded nuts, so I replied to it somewhat dismissively.

Then I decided to find the interview clip, and ended up reading all about Djokovic’s diet. And, weirdly, bits of it resonated with me. I too feel very sluggish and weary all the time, and sleep around 14 hours a day (yes, you read that correctly – 14!) especially when I eat carbs and/or sugar.

The article said Djokovic had reached and retained his position as the world’s no. 1 by following a specific diet:

‘The key to the diet Djokovic now follows is the absence of both gluten – which is present in most foods – and dairy products. He also cuts out as much sugar as possible. The world No 1’s diet is based on vegetables, beans, white meat, fish, fruit, nuts, seeds, chickpeas, lentils and healthy oils.’

It sounds very healthy to me, so (meat excepted) I thought I might try it and see whether my sluggishness and lethargy eases as a result. I’ll let you know what happens.

I’m very pro-vaccination though, so that’s one particular choice of Djokovic’s which I won’t be trying!

This post has been made possible by my awesome Patreon supporters Peter Weilgony, Ricky Steer, Charlie Brooker, Mary and Tim Fowler, Steve Richards, Alan Brookland, Mark Ormandy, Oliver Vass, Keith Bell, John Fleming, Mark Bailey, Rebekah Bennetch, Matthew Sylvester, Brian Engler, Jack Scanlan, Dave Nattriss, MusicalComedyGuide.com, Aragorn Strider, Mark White, Lucy Spencer, Shane Jarvis, Emily Hill and Marcus P Knight.

If you enjoyed this blog, please support me on Patreon from just £1 a month and you’ll get to read a lot more of my writing.

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