The lockdown, we’re all agreed, is bringing communities together, renewing family bonds and making us appreciate what we’ve got. Meanwhile, I can’t be the only one who has noticed, alongside the Blitz spirit, a new spirit of competition. Covid competing is unlike competing BC (Before Corona) because it’s necessarily limited in scope - must all happen At Home or In the Park - and because what’s topping the chart is not what we’d have expected, had we given it any thought.
Currently the Covid Competing Chart looks like this:
Still at No 1: Exercise
People who barely or never exercised (eg. moi) have turned into Rocky during their allocated one hour of outdoor activity and signed up to exercise classes. When we’re brushing our teeth, we’re stretching our calves. We’re taking the stairs two at a time and hopping on one leg waiting for the kettle to boil.
As for the people who always took plenty of exercise, they’re doing yoga and pilates three times a day. You can’t have a conversation with a female without them mentioning Adrienne or Davina, or their private person who is brilliant. Suddenly we’re all behaving as if we’ve been barred from daily gym workouts with the world’s finest and we absolutely have to maintain our routines.
At Two: Serious five star no cheat cooking
We thought it was all going to be tins and dried food agogo but instead we are treating the lockdown like Christmas, if we were loaded and living with Ottoenghi. We’re insisting on fresh everything. We are ordering boxes of lamb shanks from companies with the word ‘ethical’ in their names, when BC we were quite often eating discounted non-organic chicken. Recipe sharing has become a thing like it hasn’t since the Fifties. We don’t want to look them up, we want to get them from our friends and vice versa, as that way our efforts are logged.
Three: Carefully curated TV watching
BC you would just flop onto the sofa and watch whatever was on , plus your catch up list, now it’s deadly serious. When you come out of the lockdown you want to have seen All The Classic Films, All the Classic TV, read War and Peace. Everyone’s comparing.
Just in at Four: Making an effort with our hair
We had given up, but now looking like an old Victorian doll, and seeing that others are maintaining their shiny bobs has got us fired up. We can’t do anything about the grey, but maybe the Baby Jane do.
Five: Being tidy
In particular being kitchen proud and bathroom on it. This is partly because we are scared of what the cleaner will say if she comes back to a midden.
Six: Pulling together families
Way back BC you may remember there was a time when the most competitive women were clocking up five children just to annoy their peers with only four. Now the game is how marvellously well the vast family are gelling over old board games, seed planting and sourdough making, and how much volunteering they are doing.
Seven: Reliably excellent memes
You know when you’ve got it and when you haven’t.
Eight: Enterprising home improvements that don’t involve storming B&Q, eg. making lovely areas to WFH
(V galling for those of us who WFH’d BC in a dingy corner piled high with unnecessary papers.)
Nine: Being Wildly Social
This has dropped down the chart since the early weeks. You can be the person doing two quizzes a night but it’s starting to feel like the worst of BC when you couldn’t find a weekend to see your best friends. Now you can’t agree on a slot to talk to them.
Ten: The garden
Don’t you wish your garden was hot like mine? Don’t you wish you’d got your slugs under control, like me. Sorry, it is strange, but we did not make the rules.
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