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The Perfume, the Orange and Last Night's Shepherd’s Pie

During lockdown we’ve been encouraging our talented employees to volunteer, upskill and try new things. One of our talented Senior Client Managers, Amie Blackwell, wrote and entered into the Bromley Library writing competition. They picked the best entries to go into the Bromley Library archives and Amie’s got picked! You can read her winning entry below – we’re proud of you Amie!

 

We’d love to know how you spent your time during lockdown. Share your stories with us on Twitter and Instagram @wallacespace.

 

 The Perfume, the Orange and Last Night’s Shepherd’s Pie: Chronicles of the Great Lockdown. By Amie Blackwell (@amiewell)

 

 

“Take me out tonight where there’s music and there’s people. And they’re young and alive.
Driving in your car I never never want to go home. Because I haven’t got one. Anymore.”

 

 

Never have these words been so poignant. Morrissey always spot on in any kind of emotional crisis, although this is taken from the Album the Queen is dead, and I do wish her well. The song plays as I run (at speed, considering my complete lack of motivation) around the local shops with their closing down signs on each of the doors.  What we would give now to taste the night, the excitement, the promise.

 

Social Distancing, Isolation, Quarantine, Dry Persistent Cough, Boris, Lockdown, Daily Updates, NHS in Crisis, STOCKPILING, Recession, Furlough, Banana Bread, Covid-19. The dreaded buzz words of 2020, a year we will not forget in a hurry. We are so desperate for it to be over that I am writing this in March 2020 and I am imagining that I am writing this far far in the future, and that all what I am about to tell you is a retrospective look, I really wish it was. As I write this now we are still very much in the thick of it, things seem to be escalating at such a pace that my brain is struggling to keep up. The anxiety throughout day comes and goes in waves, but when it hits, it hits hard and I start believing I am living in the Handmaids Tale, or a similar bleak dystopian future.

 

 

 

I have developed an odd symptom, and I am unsure if it is Corona or not? Also as an aside, I often think about all the brand awareness that Corona beer are getting right now. I mean in these dark times, you must take the positives, maybe I’ll get a job working for Corona? I do fancy a Corona now, but NOT the killer virus kind. Back to my symptom’s, no taste or sense of smell but I feel physically fine. I have tried holding up an orange to my nose, (daily I might add, my colleagues on Microsoft teams particularly enjoyed that one) perfume and last night shepherd’s pie tasted like a pile of unrecognisable mush. It’s like my taste buds are now depressed and they are refusing to get out of bed each day, but I am, hello taste buds wake up, you and vast amounts of Gin and Wine are all I have right now.

 

 

 

Wake me up when Corona ends please thank you.

 

 

 

The days are merging into one now, we are living history, this will be studied in classrooms, lecture theatres across the world in years to come. The Great Lockdown and the social impacts of it all and how it changed the world and our culture forever. I am optimistic and at the same time filled with dread that after this we will change forever as a human race, things won’t be the same after this I can’t imagine. It could be amazingly liberating I hope it is. Give us back our hedonism, Friday nights, dancing, kebabs and drinks. I didn’t ask for a global pandemic though to ensure I stay in, did I? If I did, I’m sorry. I never imagined it would come to this. Corona was in the background, white noise to our daily lives, then it hit us all and became our daily lives. Going to the shops now is very Handmaids tale, I had to stop myself from turning to my fellow Corona avoiders and say “we’ve been sent good weather.” It is strange in the book they reference oranges frequently, always oranges, are they in the shops are they fresh, everyone gets excited about the oranges. Anyway, I am eating a lot of oranges currently, no taste or smell so might as well get some vitamins inside me. Morrison’s was bleak, all the shoppers wearing gloves, sketchily looking around at each other. This is our life now, for the next 3 months at least.

 

 

 

In this new world order, you really must celebrate small wins. My smell and taste has just returned, I was mid orange eating and I could feel it creep back in. Like it was late to the meeting and had to sneak in at the back.  I feel exhilarated like the awakened Scrooge on Christmas morning running to Tiny Tim’s house. I stuck my head in the fridge and sniffed everything! Joy has returned in some small way. We had a curry that night and it felt good.

 

 

 

It’s weird the things you do through boredom, I think I have regressed into a 12-year-old girl. Earlier I had a genuine thought that what I really wanted to do was learn the words to Mabel ‘Don’t Call Me Up.’ Learn them, make up a dance and post the video to Instagram? I think I have been hanging out with my niece Lois way too much. Do all 32 year olds still get the urge to learn pop song words? Maybe in a global pandemic they do. I think we are in week 3 now, what will I be doing by the end, wearing nappy’s and kicking off when it’s bedtime? It’s a time of great sadness and great madness, I really hope I’m not the first one to lose the plot, run away in my dressing gown, to central London and wee in the street. It’s rollercoaster of emotions it really is.

 

 

 

This surreal time we find ourselves in forces you to do strange things like save reading a message or save wiping that bit of dust on the side just so you have something to do. I like going into different rooms and having a different experience in each room, that’s my new favourite thing. Getting changed in the bathroom instead of the bedroom or sitting up the breakfast bar for my end of work drink. As a treat sitting on the bed on my laptop instead of the desk, even sleeping the foot end of the bed. New view, new thoughts, new vibe.  I find myself thinking of a quote from one of my favourite films Notes on a Scandal, slightly edited to keep in line with the current times.

 

 

 

 

 

“People [BEFORE LOCKDOWN] thought they knew what it was like to be lonely. But of the drip, drip of the long-haul, no-end-in-sight solitude, they knew nothing. What it’s like to construct an entire weekend around a visit to the [OFF LISCENCE] 0r to be so chronically untouched that the accidental [SIGHT OF SOMEONE HALF NUDE ON THE TELEVISION] sends a jolt of longing straight to your groin. Of this kind of loneliness [BEFORE LOCKDOWN] we had no clue.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

During the great lockdown, that’s what we will say one day, our grandparents had the war we have the lockdown. Everyone has gone mad for Banana bread, posting pictures of their friends on Zoom, posting their runs and just in general ‘look how good my lockdown life is pictures.’ I’m staying at my sisters and they have hot tub so admittedly I am part of this, I mean you can’t beat I’m in a hot tub in the sun post. I’ve also developed such a fondness to all shop workers. I have my favourite little newsagents that I will run to on a Friday. I run with an empty backpack fill it up with one bottle of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, we have a little chat, well I chat to him about the same things we speak about every week “oh it’s so good that you can stay open during this, massive queue outside Sainsbury’s ha bet they don’t even know they can come here.” Then I realise that staying at my sisters means the big shop is done for me, so I’m a very small target audience of people running in to get  one bottle of wine. It’s nice talking to someone outside your family, although I tried to get some bits from the Waitrose garage the other day and it did not end well for me. Again, another wine related story (basically during the great lockdown we have all turned into alcoholics, but that’s fine, for now.) So back to my Waitrose experience. I woke up Saturday determined to get eggs, today I want eggs, and nothing can stop me. You know it’s going to be tough but you’re willing to put yourself through it as you don’t really have any daily life challenges to deal with now. Off I set on my bike with some Deftones playing in one ear (two ears is not socially acceptable as must remember the road). During lockdown I have developed a liking for heavy metal music, it’s full on, hectic, angry and at times quite sexual.

 

 

 

First I head down to the wrong side of Petts Wood (the pikey end, as my sister would say), as I get off my bike I let out massive sigh of relief as there is no queue, I look at the little old lady in front of me as if to say, look at us we are here no queue lucky us. The great lockdown brings many moments of comradery like this. We all share a common goal, and that’s to avoid being close to any human, stay well clear of their saliva particles, and no touching! That’s key you can’t touch anyone. But can you make small talk to almost anyone, that is allowed. This must be what it is like when you become very old and you don’t get to speak people in the day sat at home, then you chew the ear off anyone who will listen. So I go into the shop, and it’s honestly like the last shop after the apocalypse, everyone is wearing masks (I still haven’t got used to these) they are terrifyingly dark. In the Handmaid’s Tale in Washington DC all their Handmaids wear cloth’s over their mouths to disguise the rings to keep them quiet. When I see a mask, I see a Handmaid. The shelves are empty, and the shop keeper is shouting at his new teenage employee. The shop owner is on the phone whilst he shouts at him (in a wheeler dealer tone). “Mate you just got to keep going, you’ve got to keep it all topped up, it gets emptied out then you top it up again, emptied out then again, you just got to keep on topping it up mate.” It is quite hectic at this point and I am stood thinking is he topping up the eggs then, because I can’t see any?

 

 

 

I leave the shop feeling frustrated by the first step of my journey trying to retrieve the eggs. Jump back on the bike and head to the Waitrose in the garage. During the great lockdown there is defiantly something in air (aside from Corona), there is a peace in nature and the blossoming trees and cloud formations in the sky look more beautiful than ever. Mother nature is saying thank you, I think as I enjoy my cycle to Petts Wood, then my whimsical bubble is quickly burst by the queue outside Waitrose, with their scary masks and gloves. I park up my bike and join the queue, casually I must add, you don’t want to be that person who looks like they are afraid of catching the Corona. Slip in casually, nothing to see here I am joining a normal queue for a shop (more like the queue day 3 for a Glastonbury porta loo.)

 

 

 

The queue goes down quickly so that makes me happy. I get to the front and whip out the bright blue gloves, that my sister gave me before I left the house, everyone seems to be leaving the shop with gloves and masks on. Although, I feel very self-conscious that I am walking around Waitrose wearing bright blue gloves and denim very small hot pants. I Feel so smug as I move around the shop with great ease as there is hardly anyone in there, I find the eggs, quickly fill my basket with 3 lots of 6, in case someone behind me takes the last ones. It’s a much better shopping experience now, than the time before Corona maybe it will be called ACovid and BCovid? The experience is not stressful, everyone moves around the shop in an orderly fashion. I find two bottles of Waitrose own wine, and I feel smug that I have managed to find £5 wine in Waitrose. So I queue up with my little gloves on, go over to the till and the lady says “have you got any ID love” I reply “er no why would I have ID, I’m 32, so you must think I look younger than 25?” I continue to explain to her that I am buying eggs as I need to feed the family back home, she defiantly looked at me as if I was completely making it up, to make myself sound older. So, alas I could not buy the cheap Waitrose own wine. I leave feeling happy about the eggs, sad about the wine and forever scared by the masks.

 

 

 

One thing a lot of people are saying about this period of pandemic is, the very vivid dreams they are experiencing. Waking up speaking of their exhaustion from them. I seem to be mostly dreaming about ex boyfriends and searching for cleaning products in the alley down the road. Sounds random, but honestly it was a great stall set up full of cleaning wipes, I am desperate for them. Too scared to go back to scary shops. I think everyone everywhere is remaining optimistic and wants things to return to the ‘new normal’. I hold onto to hope that one day we all wake up to a day free of this virus, free to see and hug our family and friends, free to hop on a train and go to work, grab that morning coffee and think about all the people we need to meet that day, free to plan a holiday and get excited for the morning airport. Just. Free.