Rosie and Jim: ‘You’re stuck/safe in one of the UK’s most beautiful swathes of countryside, so give thanks and get outside’

It's not just flour and toilet roll that are hard to get hold of during lockdown. Paragraphs are in short supply too, forcing our writers to resort instead to bullet point lists.

Our writers Rosie Paterson and James Fisher — who have both, one way or another, ended up alone for the duration — are sharing slices of their lives.

Up until now they’ve ranked musical instruments (and not in a good way), mused over mysteries, shared tales of curious robins, video chat and little old ladies winching shopping through windows. Catch up with all their previous entries here.

I don’t know about you, but I am happy to admit that the version of me naively bouncing around London two months or so ago was woefully underprepared for what was to come.

With the advantage of hindsight on my side, this is what I would’ve said to myself in the days leading up to Coronamageddon:

1.     Do NOT get a manicure. You will have no way of safely removing it. You will pick at the gel and your nail beds will start to resemble decades old, flaking plaster.

2.     Stop stockpiling loo roll. Do you know what’s about to become more valuable than gold and a steady WiFi connection? Flour. Buy flour like you need to bake bread for the 5,000.

3.     At first you will think that every creak from the fridge is someone coming to finish you off in your sleep and make off with the flour. This delusion will fade. In the absence of any other noise, you will have time to think. By the end of the first month you will have had time to come up with a foolproof plan for the next 20 years of your life.  You will also have plans B, C, D, E, F and G in place.

4.     You are going to spend more time thinking about whether you miss people than you will actually missing them. It’s okay to be okay with being alone. Overthinking anything during this crisis is time wasted and is better spent baking more bread.

5.     Don’t bother producing a detailed exercise routine that you won’t stick to. You’re stuck/safe (insert as applicable) in one of the UK’s most beautiful swathes of countryside, so give thanks for that and get outside and walk. Hike the coast path; forage in the steeply banked woodland; paddle at low tide for cathartic release (just don’t sit on the beach with a book or go swimming in the sea — you will be told off for both).

6.     Mum is going to send you a portable pizza oven. Do NOT try to remove a pizza from the 400-degree furnace with merely your bare hands and a wooden spoon.

7.     Overpack. This is not the time for Scandi-inspired minimalist living. You might think a weekend bag full of winter woollies will suffice, but you’re not going to see your actual wardrobe for months and the sun is going to be uncharacteristically happy.

The texts have been nice, as and when they drip in. ‘Are you alright? You’ve been on your own for some time now….’

I have been on my own for some time now. Eight weeks to be precise, but I’m not suffering. No more than normal anyway. A lot of folks have enquired as to what it is exactly that I do with my time, so I thought I’d create this handy itinerary, which I shall title thusly: ‘What to expect when you’re not expecting anything at all’.

7:30am: Alarm rings. I snooze it.

7:35am: Alarm rings again. I snooze it again.

7:45am: 146 alarms ring at the same time, because I have 27 years experience of waking up in the morning, and it requires something akin to a train derailment to rouse me. Look out window. See sunshine. Think ‘What a lovely day’.

7:47am: Remember there’s a pandemic. Sigh deeply. Go downstairs and create coffee.

8:30am: Create third cup of coffee. Continue to sigh.

8:45am: Begin working. Immediately get distracted by very fat robin that is waddling around the garden. It’s like a baseball with wings. Envious of its carefree attitude. Return to work.

11:30am: Caffeine levels drop. Existential dread of current predicament begins gnawing at the psyche. Create fourth cup of coffee. Happy again.

12:30pm: Have lunch. Robin comes up to window to observe. None for you, you decadent sphere, go eat a worm.

1:30pm: Back to work. Immediately get distracted by the concept of self-referential paradoxes. A barber shaves all those, and only those, who cannot shave themselves. Does he himself shave? Etc. Nervously sip cup of tea. Return to work.

5:30pm: Finish work. Go to homemade gym (AKA yoga mat) or run. Appreciate that I’m getting fit. Despair that nobody will ever get to see it.

7:30pm: Glass of wine or beer, and prepare dinner.

8:00pm: Run bath, sit in bath and read for a while with glass of wine or beer. Consider the Russell set (R) of all sets that are not members of themselves (R={x∣x∉x}). Is R a member of itself? Probably. Remember that I don’t understand theoretical philosophy. Return to reading The Night Manager.

8:30pm: A quiz, probably. Who cares. More wine.

9:30pm: Watch some TV, think about bed.

10:30pm: Slither into bed. Wonder how eight weeks can feel both like eight hours and eight years simultaneously. Sleep. Laugh. Despair. Repeat.