So the year started innocuously. I can’t even remember how we celebrated New Year’s Eve. I would consult my diary to find out, seeing at it was my resolution to start writing one. However, I think I forgot to tell myself which year I would start that. Therefore, I have no record of how I brought in this Year of the Rat, which will forever be known instead as the Year of the Bat!
Early January, students and teachers trudged back into school, asking how many days there were until half term. The news seemed to be devoted to some illness in China.
“Ian! Isn’t Wuhan a band?”
“Wu-tang Clan Linz! Wu-tang!”
Still, China was squidillions of miles away and I had no intention of ever visiting there, so there was absolutely nothing to worry my tiny, little mind about.
I was also confident in Boris’ ineptitude. As European countries later became stricken with the disease, I was sure that he wouldn’t follow suit in adopting a national lockdown like our other sensible neighbours. We were just gonna have to catch the virus and make the whole country immune. So, it was safe in this knowledge that I decided to revamp the living room.
09:42 A window is knocked out and replaced with patio doors, leaving a huge hole in floor and exposed plastered walls.
17:01 Boris announces lockdown to the nation and with it knackers Lindsay’s plans to have her living room sorted before Easter.
It would remain unsorted for many more months. More annoyingly, I couldn’t even rely on Boris’ ineptitude. He was now reliably unreliable.
So we were in lockdown. The introvert in me was cheering inside that she now had to cross the road to avoid people. I was unfazed by not being able to go to the pub. I struggle enough with appearing reasonably normal and supposedly clever when sober so not being able to imbibe alcohol was not a problem for me.
As far as schools being shut, I just thought there would be a couple of weeks tagged on either side of the Easter break. To be fair, I was ready to have a break from my class. They were doing my head in. So I thanked Boris for this extended vacation.
“No. You still have to educate them Lindsay. Just online.”
Oh FFS. I can’t. I’ve started writing an online diary on a random day in the middle of the week at the end of the month during a worldwide pandemic. I have a public!! I don’t have time to educate!
Alongside trying to motivate my class of 11 year olds as they lay in bed or were off on some jaunt as, by some miracle, when we’re told to stay home and not venture far, the British weather decides sadistically to be the best it’s ever been on record. I started that sentence so long ago now, I’ve lost track of what I was saying. Oh yes, whilst trying to teach, I had the double whammy of having to home school as well. I’ve had to mother Joel for 15 years; there was no way I was getting myself involved in more aspects of his life! But I had to because if it was possible to be permanently excluded for abject attendance at Google Meets, Joel was on track. I’m pretty positive none of his teachers will be reading this but that History essay comparing JFK and LBJ, yep, that was me. And those English language assignments submitted early. Yep that was me (although I’m still slightly aggrieved where I dropped the mark on the persuasive letter, so feel free to let me know!). Any energy reserves I had left weren’t enough to check in on Abigail. Neither did her teachers to be fair, so she had a fantastic lockdown. Sam, after 12 years, suddenly developed a work ethic and excelled in all tasks. If only I’d known that all he needed was a world pandemic to give him a kick up the arse, I’d have been on the phone to the Wu-tang Clan years ago!
And then there was Zoom. Staring at your parents’ nostrils, staring at friends’ frozen faces as their connection was lost, staring at your dog who had suddenly become entranced by Abigail’s dance teacher.
I became quizzed out. Family quizzes. Work quizzes. Group quizzes. All I learnt was that I have been unable to retain any general knowledge pre 2003. And I’m still crap at Maths.
The country became obsessed with toilet rolls and pasta. Not me. Like a female Indiana Jones, my holy grail was fence paint. Somehow, before lockdown was even a word, I’d calculated that two small tins would be sufficient to upgrade our fence which is long enough to border a small country. And, just like every household in the country, I’d opted for the in colour of grey. I trawled the internet. I messaged local companies who suddenly became acceptable in comparison to national chains. I even looked on eBay for half full tins. Thankfully my sourcing of Silver Copse was more successful than my remote learning and home schooling combined and supplies were replenished. Just as it started to rain.
We all declared we would use this time to achieve new things. I went to places I never knew existed. Admittedly most of these were unfamiliar roads on local estates to deliver work to my students (God, I bet they hated me. Karma kids for all those times you made me roll my eyes and sigh dejectedly) but the geography of my local area definitely improved. I would bake (using cake kits). I made school cheese flan (with frozen pastry and pre grated cheese). No one would accept why it was school cheese flan and not just cheese flan. I would write a book. I printed out old blogs, clubbed them together in an old A4 binder and called it a diary.
In July, lockdown quietly merged into the summer school holidays and life appeared to return to normal. I had to get dressed on a daily basis, I had no excuses to ignore people and the fence still needed to be fecking painted.
Early September, all hell broke loose. Four of the Stevensons had to return to school. We all sulked, stomped and scowled like moody adolescents. To be fair, three of them were moody adolescents. I just felt the need to join in for the first time ever. We bowed to the inevitable, packed the school bags and left Frankie to his stakeout at the living room window. I’m sure I saw him smile as we drove past.
Teaching during Corona was certainly different. Students became expert cleaners, teaching time was lost due to cleaning and I had the luxury of being able to mouth whatever I wanted behind my mask. Just needed some sunglasses to hide the frequent rolling of the eyes! I ended the year with a fantastic record. My classroom was Covid clear. As for any actual learning, I couldn’t possibly comment!
Come October, progress is made in the living room. Furniture is ordered. The floor is booked. A plumber is sorted. And Boris announces another lockdown. Like I said, reliably unreliable.
And here we are at the end of the year and it appears we have come full circle. The graphs are going the wrong way again and I’m faced with the double whammy of getting students in distant dwellings and offspring right under my nose to learn. I won’t be making any resolutions. If I ever kept to any, I’d be a world famous marathon runner with a Booker prize and millions in the bank. So instead, I’ll resolve to stay unfit, not write that book and squander my (Ian’s) money. In which, I’ll be a guaranteed success!
Oh, I forgot to mention Brexit…..