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From garden tans to perma-exercisewear: eight ways we've changed since lockdown

We're allowed out again – but the world is a different place to the one we left in March

Have you taken the opportunity to sun yourself over lockdown?
Have you taken the opportunity to sun yourself over lockdown? Credit: Getty

We’re out in the world. Up to a point. Only everything looks a bit different now. It’s all exactly as it was back in March – the shops, the people, the traffic – and yet it’s not the same. For example:

1. Gardener’s tan

(Also known as park/front steps tan). People who would never usually see the sun until their holiday on Corfu in July are now the colour of a Piz Buin bottle. Some of us have tans that compare with the great tan of 1976, along with the bushy mane hairy legs and the block print dress.

2. Seventies hair

It’s not necessarily Seventies. A lot of the men look very Melvyn Bragg circa mid Eighties, and others have gone beardy salty sea dog  - which is quite Richard Dreyfuss in Jaws, to be fair. But everyone looks shaggier and grey temples plus a snowy gutter are now perfectly normal. If anything expertly dyed, coiffed and crisply cut hair looks weird. (Did anyone notice Emily Maitlis’s stiff hair on Newsnight this week? It looked disturbingly out of place and Pre Corona.) Makes you think.  

3. Exercisewear

Before all this we owned exercise wear and wore it when taking exercise; now these are the clothes we are most likely to get up in, until further notice. Meanwhile both sexes are wearing trainers all the time. Proper footwear looks anachronistic like Louis heeled silk pumps with diamante buckles. It’s possible we’ll never wear real heels again, or carry a handbag.

4. Covid weight gain

A third of the population has gained half a stone or more during lockdown, so we were informed at the end of May. This fat spike has been attributed to not being able to go out, and comfort eating (genius) but also, let’s face it, there has been the drinking like pirates, and the ritual of Lockdown Supper which we all adopted to avoid descending into savagery. Unfortunately we have developed a taste for it and Eased Lockdown Supper continues to be a two or three course extravaganza involving posh cheese, creamy chicken and giant loaves of sourdough.

5. Tidy gardens

Honestly, never in the history of our garden has it looked so spruce and ready for its close up. Sometimes it gets watered twice a day. Lockdown has made us realise (a bit like that woman who won’t leave her cat alone since she saw it mewling on the home cam) that really gardens need you to be around all the time, deadheading and slug pelleting and weeding and so forth. The garden is now getting the time and energy we used to put into socialising.

6. The out and proud yoga mat

Remember before this you made a point of putting the yoga mat out of sight, wedged behind the sofa. Having your yoga mat in plain view was considered faintly grubby, like not bothering to put away the ironing board or the clothes dryer. Not any more. Now that our houses are machines for living in – all the time - the OAP mat is a symbol of a modern thriving household. Ditto the neat filing system and monitor; the desk with ergonomic chair; and the in your face recycling system.

7. His and Hers bathrooms

Not that you’ve added a bathroom during the lockdown, although by the looks of it plenty are now: what we’re talking about is the safe space allocation. He has the downstairs loo for all his needs. We have the bathroom proper. And we like it like that.

8. Scaffolding

Everywhere. All the neighbours are making sure they don’t get caught out again with the too small den, the not-knocked-through kitchen and the backdoor access to the garden (when what they now see they need is a bank of Critalls windows). If you look over the garden fence you will see Soho Farmhouse style umbrellas and teak steamer deck chairs that certainly weren’t there four months ago.

All change.