One day diary for Mass Observation

Self Portrait:
I am a 70-year-old lady living in a Welsh coastal village with my second husband of many years standing. All the children left home several years ago and we have a clutter of grandchildren and dogs all living within a 20-mile radius of us. Both my husband and I are retired. 

7:20 am    Woke up, showered, washed and dried my hair. In desperate need of a haircut as the last time I visited the hairdressers was Friday 7th Feb. I read yesterday that hairdressers will not be open for some considerable time – July I think. Ironic really as for years I kept my hair long with hardly a need to go to a hairdresser but age caught up with me so the long hair was cut off. For the last 10 years it has been in a bob. I ditched colouring it about three years ago and now have a grey bob that’s getting longer and untidier by the minute.  

I am glad to notice that the wind had dropped and the sun is shining today.

8:00 am    Breakfast (shredded wheat, ½ banana, semi-skimmed milk) and a large cup of peppermint tea. Hubby and I watched BBC Breakfast Time for half an hour – all about the new amended COVID-19 guidelines. Why cannot people just be sensible and use common sense in dealing with what is happening?

9:15 am    Walked over to my neighbour’s house opposite - a 93-year-old widow - who asked me yesterday to take some photos of her white calla Lilies in her front garden. I used my Samsung Galaxy A3 (2016) phone to take five pictures. Hubby and I then went to the local town in our car (a blue VW T-ROC) to get some supplies. Yesterday I telephoned Specsavers to check that my quarterly contact lenses solution had arrived and was available for me to collect. I have worn gas permeable contact lenses since I was sixteen years old – the first thing I bought when I started work in the 1960s. Many years ago I signed up with Specsavers to receive a quarterly supply of Bausch & Lomb Boston Cleaner Conditioning Solution and a new pair of contact lenses each year. This service costs £36 per quarter.

In our local town hubby went to the bakers to buy a loaf of low GI bread (sliced) and two cakes. He popped in the newsagent next door to the bakers and bought a daily paper. I went to Sainsbury’s and bought 4 pints of semi skimmed milk, carrots and salad items. I had to wait outside the shop for about 10 minutes in a queue – all 2 metres apart as indicated by tape on the pavement. I’m not sure how many people are allowed in the shop at once but there was a worker on the door counting people out before letting people in. We have been lucky the last few weeks as I have managed to get a weekly delivery or click and collect from Tesco’s and don’t normally need to top up in the week but I decided to take advantage this morning. As Specsavers do not currently open until 10:00 I took the shopping back to the car and sat inside for 10 minutes people watching. The streets are very quiet this morning and I wonder how many shops will re-open when the green light is given. Hubby thinks all of them but as many are small independent shops I have my doubts. At 10:00 I went to Specsavers and rang the bell. The assistant answered and asked me to come in while he collected my order. He indicated the hand sanitiser on the desk for me to use. In and out very quickly whereas normally I would wander in and wait for my turn to be served and then wait again while they tried to find my solution as its not the popular cheap one that Specsavers try to get their customers to use. As we travel back home in the car the roads were virtually empty of traffic. My hubby tells me his collection is waiting in Screwfix for him to pick up.

10:30 am    A cup of peppermint tea and a lovely custard slice after I put the milk and salad stuff in the fridge. Hubby takes a photo of his coffee cream puff and sends it to his mate – it’s a long-standing joke between the two of them. I sat in the conservatory reading the Daily Mail – its full of coronavirus stuff and the shambles that Boris Johnston inflicted on England on Sunday when he outlined the start of the relaxation of the lockdown. Of course Scotland, Ireland and Wales have devolved responsibility in this area and there is no exact consensus of opinion. I look out of the window over the green garden and the field with the sheep and lambs beyond. The sky is a lovely azure blue and I wonder if its that colour because there are hardly any planes flying – we get so excited if we see a plane or a contrail nowadays – and very little traffic therefore less air pollution. We are lucky in that just us two live in a four-bedroom house with a garden. From the front of the house it’s a five minutes walk to arrive at the sea and at the back of the house a lovely view over the moorland and farm. Why oh why doesn’t everyone just use common sense and try to pull together as they did at the start of the lockdown instead the political parties and other organisations have started the blame game. I suppose I knew it would happen sometime or other but it’s not helpful at the moment.

12:00 midday    Go through my emails and email the lily photos to my neighbour. Then I check out the two WhatsApp messages I have - one from my 12-year-old granddaughter living in the city and the other from my 13-year-old granddaughter living further along the coast. The 12-year-old put the application on my phone and showed me how to use it in preparation of the lockdown and we communicate with photos or a line or two of text now that we are unable to see one another. Its very difficult not seeing my daughter and her children. As a single parent with a life limited disease and three youngsters we have been very involved in each other’s lives. Now hubby and I are in the vulnerable group while my daughter is in the extremely vulnerable group and is suppose to be shielded but life can be messy. Although my daughter is able to receive her three-weekly injections for her disease all scans and hospital appointments in respect of monitoring the disease have been put on hold because of COVID-19. It’s not fair…

I start to write up my 12th May diary for the Mass Observation Archive.

12:45 pm    The bell rings and it’s my next-door neighbour bringing me a present of a low GI round loaf that she bought shopping at Lidl’s. She told me all about the garden plants that were available there and that there were hardly any people there. I seriously thought of going but in the end I decided not to – the garden will just have to have limited colour this year. My neighbour is a few years younger than me so not in the vulnerable group and she loves to shop and look after us oldies who live in the road. I put our low GI bread in the freezer for another day and have another cup of peppermint tea with a slice of my neighbour’s bread spread with Welsh salted butter – gorgeous. I had taken out some home made carrot soup from the freezer to have lunch time but that will go in the fridge now for tomorrow.

As I empty the dishwasher I look out of the kitchen window and see my neighbour opposite. She looks upset so I go out for a chat. After spending an hour with her, 2 metres apart,  listening to her complaints about her family and life in general I come home exhausted. I tell my husband I think I deserve the Nobel Peace Prize! It’s so difficult and I think we all feel so frustrated. I take over some panadol because she has run out and her arm and shoulder are really aching after the window cleaning she did yesterday, as her window cleaner is not available in the lockdown.

I tidy the kitchen when I come back, check out my emails again and continue with this diary.

4:00 pm I pop next door to check with my neighbour. She had some floaters appear in her eye and flashing. After phoning Specsavers this morning she was seen this afternoon as an emergency. She said it was strange having to ring the bell and wait for someone to answer it and I agreed. The optician, a young girl, was apparently very good and after eye drops and a thorough examination was told that the vitreous jelly at the back of the eye was shrinking – a sign of aging. I knew exactly what she meant as I had the same thing last summer. I told her to be very aware and if there was more flashing or even more than one line to go back immediately. About 6 weeks after I was told my vitreous jelly was shrinking the flashes got worse and were like tram lines. The very young female optician after a thorough examination realised there was a hole in my retina that necessitated an immediate trip to the emergency eye hospital and laser treatment on the eye. About 40 years ago my uncle had two detached retinas and went blind so I’m very aware of the situation. Unfortunately for my uncle medical science wasn’t as advanced as it is today. I count my blessings.

I make Bolognese using up the veg from Saturday’s delivery from Tesco’s. Usually the fruit and veg I receive from Tesco’s lasts most of the week but not this week so rather than waste it I made the Bolognese using mince I had in the freezer. We don’t have it for tea as hubby has a corned beef hash (taken form the freezer this morning) and I have salmon and salad. We can have the Bolognese tomorrow and I can freeze the rest for the future.

5:20 pm    I returned my daughter’s phone call as she phoned just as we sat down for tea. We caught up on how we were coping with things. It’s practical and reassuring as opposed to an emotionally or financially charged half hour chat. She talked about home schooling, the amount of time the two oldest children spend gaming and time spent on their electronic gadgets, the dog, the youngest child not sleeping properly and worrying about her mum and the current situation. I try to arrange a delivery every two weeks for them – it’s usually a surprise – but I think they were expecting this week’s delivery. It started as something to break up their day and I will try to continue until things get back to something like normal. So far there have been books, maps, creative things, skipping ropes, a personal small exercise wheel, chocolates, and flowers. This week it was summer tops. No problems with my choice for the girls but the lad did not like what I chose for him so we talk about how to work around that. I bought a plain white T for my daughter on the grounds that you can never have enough of those and I don’t always get her choice in clothes right. My other granddaughter has had similar items thus the WhatsApp message this morning.

6:00 pm    We watched to the BBC 6 o’clock news and the following BBC Wales bulletin. I sometimes wonder why we watch it especially after reading the paper today because it was all COVID-19 related and there is only so much a person can take in. After the news clean up the kitchen, freeze the Bolognese and up to the study to complete an entry for a writing competition. Its not due until the end of the month but I want a friend to check it out for me – spelling, grammar, does it flow etc.  It’s completely different from my usual style of writing and I have enjoyed the challenge.

9:00 pm    Watch Kate Humble on TV about families that leave the rat race to move to the countryside or rural locations. It surprises me the risks of the unknown that the young families take to achieve their dreams.

Afterwards I do the puzzle pages (Sudoku, Codeword and Wordsearch) of my Daily Mail to unwind before going to bed at 10:45.

My reflections on a) the day, b) the past decade and c) the next ten years.

a) A pretty much normal day in the current lockdown. I continue getting frustrated and upset as I work around different ways to support my daughter and her family at this time.

On reviewing my diary the following day before I email it off I am surprised at how much I have written and really in a three small spaces of time throughout the day. I wonder if I had done the MA in Creative Writing that I planned to do on my retirement what path would my writing have taken.

b) I retired nine and a half years ago. Hubby and I were looking forward to spending more time together, doing gardening and our hobbies but this all changed within a few months of retiring as my daughter, with three children four and under, was diagnosed with breast cancer. It’s been difficult, as we have dealt with the practical and emotional turmoil of accepting the illness, celebrating when the all clear was given and thrown into despair when it returned again, again and yet again. In the middle of all that, four years ago, unrelated to the cancer, her marriage broke up. Many times I have had to step in with support and then gracefully retire to the shadows as my daughter’s health and resilience returns. I am in complete awe of how she has dealt with matters.

Four years ago I had a hip replacement and twice in the last four years I’ve had to phone 999 in respect of my husband. He was consequently rushed to emergency with life threatening conditions. Every Thursday evening at 8:00 o’clock as we gather outside to clap for the NHS and all other key workers I am so grateful that I live where I do and with the support we have from public services.

With all this happening in the last 10 years world events outside of the family have taken a back seat although the Brexit process has dominated sometimes.

c) My thoughts for the next ten years are completely family centred. Quite frankly I hope to just continue supporting my daughter and her family