Thursday, 23rd of April
I moved to Glasgow from London in the Summer of 2018 to begin a Master’s in Museum Studies, hoping to boost my fledgling career in heritage and find a new city to settle in. I suppose I was 50% successful. I graduated last December and meant to look for jobs all over the UK, but found myself unable to commit to leaving the city. I love Glasgow. I love the people, the architecture, the history, the art, the music, the pubs. I got a job as a gallery assistant at the Riverside Transport Museum and spent the last 6 months walking around its cavernous galleries, welcoming families to the museum and trying desperately to stop their small children from destroying the exhibits. It might not be my number one career ambition but the it’s a truly excellent job. After a very strange week and uncertain few days, the museum shut its doors on the 24th March.
About a week before the lockdown we moved from a sleepy West End apartment to a place nearer the centre. Argyle street, flanked by trendy restaurants, great pubs, artisan sandwich shops and tattoo parlours. We wanted to be closer to the action. Now we sit indoors and watch everybody through the window. People here are notoriously friendly, almost aggressively so. When I first moved, I thought half the population of the city were flirting with me and the other half were drunk. Now people maintain patter as well as they can. Everybody avoids each other in the street but we all make an effort to exchange apologetic grins.
Tomorrow is my birthday. My housemate just left our flat to go shopping for birthday goodies. She was worried about going out for longer than an hour and visiting more than one shop because she knows it isn’t really allowed. We had a little argument about what the actual rules are and if there is a discrepancy between the WHO and government advice. Which do we follow? We agreed that as it’s a special occasion and we haven’t been to a shop for quite a few days now, it should be ok. She is an absolute gift of a person.
I’ll Skype my friends later to organise a virtual karaoke party. The boy I was seeing before the lockdown is going to sing Dolce Vita by Ryan Paris, which seems like an inspired choice under the circumstances. He hasn’t met any of my friends before but seems remarkably unfazed by the situation. He sends me little memes and pictures of his cat all day, so I feel like we’re teenagers conducting a relationship over msn in the mid naughties. It’s very sweet.
Friday, 24th April
Today I turned 26 which feels strangely meaningless. I expected to feel sad on my birthday, that I wasn’t surrounded by loved ones, but I have actually been almost OVERWHELMED. People have sent me pictures and GIFs and videos and ecards. I can tell it’s been a busy, full day because I’ve barely looked out of my window.
My mum sent me a selection of extremely nice and fancy organic hand washes and creams for my birthday. This shows her love and care for me but also her intense anxiety about the virus.
I wish I could hug everyone and tell them all how much I love them. I suppose I can tell them over zoom tonight after I’ve had a few Campari’s. I can at least sing them Angels by Robbie Williams and hope they get the message. At times like this I’m able to hold everyone I love in my head at once and just enjoy them being there. In my life and in my thoughts. Even if I can’t host them all in my little flat. I feel very blessed today. And a bit drunk.
Saturday, 25th April
The party was an UNMITIGATED SUCCESS.
So many great performances. I think people were ready for a good blowout and they really went for it. It feels like we had a real party in our flat. Had so many messages this morning from pals who’d been on the chat saying thanks, which is funny because I didn’t really do anything to host. It’s a lot easier than a real party. Except that I feel fucking terrible. I drank so so much. Also, I was feeling such a lot of love for everyone last night that I made this ridiculous nonsensical speech about everyone being here in spirit but having fun in their respective ”isolation boxes”. Completely insane. One pal likened it to the oratory of Donald Trump.
Sunday, 26th April
Felt quite low today, which I suppose is inevitable after all the party and birthday excitement.
It’s another beautiful sunny day. Me and Cariad took a walk in the park which was pleasingly (and surprisingly) empty and there was a lovely breeze. Glasgow is one of the rainiest cities in the UK, but I actually can’t remember the last time it rained. Everyone says that although Glasgow’s weather is shite, its saving grace is the people. I suppose now we have no human connection, the weather is making up for it.
I messaged my ex-boyfriend a few days ago. When this first began, I joked with my colleagues at the museum that I hoped he caught coronavirus. When Milan went into lockdown it stopped being a funny joke and | messaged him to check he was ok. Now I’m just asking for a recipe for swede because I got one in my veg box and I don’t know what to do with it. I miss him.
Monday, 27th April
Something about life in isolation makes me so tired. Every day I feel like I’ve done barely anything, but I’m exhausted by 9pm.
Fraser came around last night to drop off some sourdough and had a wee doorstep chat. He’s a doctor so he’s still working, and he doesn’t really have the same kind of weird experience as the rest of us. He still leaves his flat and goes to work and speaks to colleagues and patients. It’s obviously weird but it’s different. It was very nice to see him. He asked me what I miss most about being free. I realised I hadn’t really thought about it before.
Of course I miss the physical presence of people I love, but I still see and speak to them. Actually, I miss speaking to strangers in the street or on the bus. I miss going to work and having a cup of tea in the staff room. I miss the museum. I miss the pub. I miss being in a group of people and sitting back and just listening to them all argue about something. I miss being close to a bunch of people I don’t know. I miss gigs. I miss travelling to other parts of the city or the country or the world! I miss the promise of a free day or evening when I can do whatever I like, wherever I like. I miss those people that you bump into all the time but you’d never text or call.
I miss my mum. I want to give her a hug and sit on her sofa eating snacks and watching shit TV.
And I find the UNCERTAINTY of the situation quite difficult. I don’t know when I’ll be able to enjoy any of these things again. Before the lockdown it felt the world was going nuts. Now I look back a couple of months and think how lucky I was to be so unburdened.
Can’t believe I turned 26 the other day. I know it isn’t the worst thing going on at the moment, but I hate feeling like my life is just frozen. I feel like I was trying so hard to move my life forward to somewhere I wanted it to be. I suppose this is the ultimate lesson in patience.
Tuesday, 28th April
Felt so ill today. Had a banging headache and sore throat and sore joints. Woke up to a message from my mum freaking out because she was feeling poorly. Between us we had all symptoms but the three most associated with COVID. She was very worried though. She asked me to keep checking in to make sure she isn’t getting really ill, so I set an alarm on my phone. She worries because she lives on her own.
It’s so weird when you feel ill these days. You feel like you have to justify every symptom and keep checking in with your body to make sure you don’t have a dry cough/fever/loss of taste etc etc. It makes me feel a lot worse.
Thursday, 30th April
Felt so anxious last night I couldn’t sleep! This anxiety just pervades everything, and it makes me worry about every single aspect of life. It’s awful.
I called my friend Freya, who’s known me forever and always understands how I’m feeling. We were talking about how fundamental that fear of death and disease is and how we’re all trapped in our houses confronting this fear alone. She told me it’s ok to feel anxious because it just means you care and that’s a good thing. But it’s also ok to shelve your anxiety and get on with your day. She said, ”I was feeling terrible this morning, but I’ve put it to bed and I’m in the garden and I’m enjoying my day”.
I’m glad I can take comfort in words and conversation. Although I miss hugs and kisses, I’m as much a brain as I am a body and I find my friendships are just as meaningful over distance as they are in person. l feel blessed to know so many great people.
Now that I’ve reached the end of the week of journaling, | feel like I should have come tocsome kind of epiphany or revelation. Some big realisation about myself or about the world. Anyway, I haven’t. It’s just another week in a series of weeks that looked just like it. Quarantine will go on and we will go on — baking and eating and going a bit mad and drinking too much and calling each other and doing quizzes and playing games and looking after each other as best we can. Tomorrow’s just another day.
Now, in Glasgow
Since the week I journaled, many countries have begun the process of loosening lockdown precautions. In Scotland, our first minister recently laid out a “route-map” for this process, with steps that encompass every avenue of life. Everyone discusses the steps and when they might be implemented. We’ve started measuring time in terms of our birthdays. Will we be able to visit Nick in Liverpool for his birthday in June? Will Cariad be able to throw a small dinner party for her birthday in July? It’s nice to be able to plan for the future. That would have seemed more difficult a month ago, but I feel more patient now and more accepting of situations that are beyond my control. I don’t think things will go back to the way they were before and I don’t think we’ll ever forget this period of crisis and uncertainty, but I do think life will go on. In that sense I feel strangely positive about the future. I think as human beings, we’ve learnt how vulnerable we are, but also how kind and clever and co-operative we can be. I know there are rough times ahead, but if we remember these lessons, I reckon we’ll be ok.
Return to the house in Finsbury Park