5 November, London, UK

By Leah Kenny

Today is the very first day of the newest lockdown. Yesterday morning, despite the dazzling sun, it felt like winter had crept in and I watched as cold-air-smoke billowed from my mouth. 

Whilst working at my desk this morning for seemingly the 34835798375 day, I think about how we’ve woven in and out of lockdowns with undetermined timelines and ill-defined rules. We’re left feeling guilty and selfish, for the mistakes and delays of our government. Then I refresh the news to watch as another nation chooses their government, so far away, so influential. I live in a (mostly) quiet grove in South London. I picture the rows of houses to my left and right, with everyone sat at their laptop in the same position as me, scrolling and refreshing. Occasionally typing. But really, I still don’t know what my neighbours do, despite months separated only by a thin wall. I think of what I can cook for the commune – my home – this evening. 

By midday, the sun is out (London, this is unlike you!). I am curious about anyone I see pass by the window. Where are they going today when there is nowhere to go? Yesterday, I shared a very un-London conversation on public transport with someone who said he had just arrived in London.  He asked me what the new lockdown rules were. I wasn’t sure I could summarise, I mumbled through my mask. 

By mid-afternoon, there have been too many Zoom calls already and I’ve peered into too many living rooms already. I’ve spoken with one particular colleague nearly every day now for half a year, but haven’t yet been in the same physical place with her. Unless Microsoft Teams is a space? I am not sure anymore. We share a brief conversation after our meeting about mental wellbeing on and offline, and how we might do this better. Apparently, anxiety was the word of the day on BBC news this morning. I make a note to make a note to get back to this. There is so much learning left to do and we’ve resigned ourselves to the fact that we are in this for the long run. But some days we are just so tired from sitting still. Failing internet and an overloaded system mean a significant amount of time is spent on:

‘Can you hear me?’ 

‘Can you hear me?’ 

‘Can you hear me?’ 

By evening (which comes too early these days) I hear the fireworks going off and realise I had forgotten this is Guy Fawkes’ night. It feels out of sync with everything that is going on, and has gone on. I close my laptop; I’ll get back to it again in the morning.