Things not to do when social distancing

If you’re thinking this is one of those lists that suggests you should learn a foreign language, play an instrument and practice yoga, you need to look elsewhere. We’re focused on survival here.

This is advice given to myself based on the first few weeks of this.

It may not apply to you. You may be perfectly capable of doing the below and getting on perfectly well with your life. But just in case…

1.Do not stay in pyjamas

At least put on trackies and a hoodie or something. I know, I know, it’s effort enough to drag yourself in front of a laptop at 9 am. But nothing wakes me up quite like my manager’s suggestion to turn on my video when I’m still in my cookie monster pyjamas. Trust me on this one.

If you do find yourself in this situation, the official reason you can’t turn on video is because your internet can’t cope with it. It’s an excuse that works — because it’s also true at least 60% of the time.


2. Do not eat everything in the house.

I am trying to accumulate food for a week and eat it over the week. Not accumulate food for a week and eat it over the course of a single day. A mistake easily made. Especially as the scales in the flat are out of battery. And no, I am not planning to replace the batteries any time soon.


3.Do not use your entire lunch break to prepare lunch

I can spend an hour preparing food. That leaves me no time to actually eat the food. I end up eating it during a meeting, clicking on the mute button for just a few minutes at a time so that no one can hear me slurping my super comforting vegetable soup…

Yeah, that’s another reason my video is not on.


4. Do not wear plastic gloves when going outside to shop

Wearing plastic gloves to the shops sounds like genius. After all, I can just throw them out and then wash my hands after I get back home.

It is not genius in my case. Plastic gloves turn into annoying jellyfish that stick to everything and get tangled in the plastic bag I’m carrying, ripping in the process and revealing fingertips precisely at the point they shouldn’t. Just no.


5. Do not try to pack everything into your shopping basket at once

Yes, I don’t want to go out too often and yes, I do need all those biscuits.

But how in heavens name do I balance them on top of the milk?

I don’t. They’re a cylindrical shape. They were meant to ROLL.

I end up chasing the rolling packet of digestives around the shop floors of the Co-op much to the amusement of the shopping assistants. Well, at least I keep them entertained in these tough times… It’s basically a public service.


6. Do not waste time in the Ocado online shopping queue

I am number 21 459 in the queue. My approximate waiting time is 4 hours.

I wait for three hours, then one of two things inevitably happens:

  1. I accidentally close the window and end up really upset with myself.
  2. I see the following message “There are no slots left for the next three days”


7. Do not put too much pressure on yourself

Sure, I’ve seen the posts saying how useful and productive Shakespeare and Newton have been during their self-isolation. But:

  1. I am not entirely sure this thing with Shakespeare is true. I mean I think scholars are usually just quite pleased just to establish roughly when he wrote King Lear. Whether he was self-isolating or not are fine details. Let’s not get too bogged down in those.
  2. Newton was self-isolating in a house in the countryside. He probably was self-isolating with servants to cook him meals and wash his clothes. Not to mention a nice garden with an apple tree in it.

We are not Newton or Shakespeare. We need to muddle through this somehow or other. And if we produce works of genius, great. But sometimes we’re allowed to just take things one step at a time.

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