There are few unexpected things for which I’d like to thank lockdown. Things that had we not been stuck in our houses wondering what to do with all that spongey, featureless time, simply would not have happened.
Apart from Match of the Day, the small screen holds little allure – suddenly, there is no match, but a lot of day. And no weekly trips to the big screen either, having devoured the week’s film reviews, because there aren’t any.
Which is how I come to see Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Millar being Frankenstein and his monster on London’s National Theatre YouTube channel, for free, and discovering that the real monster was not the monster.
Making friends with Netflix, and watching Unorthodox, then reading Deborah Feldman’s brilliant book, so that now I know why the Satmar ultra-orthodox Jewish community cover their kitchens in tinfoil during Passover and wear such thick tights.
Getting over my dislike of Ricky Gervais and realising that After Life is actually brilliant. Loving Fiona Shaw in Killing Eve, and all the modern Irish sex Connell and Marianne have in Normal People, as BBC Three buckles under the strain.
Reading and reading and reading. I love reading a newspaper cover to cover, and knowing that my Kindle has enough books in it to keep me going were I to be shipwrecked for fifty years. Which is what lockdown feels like, but not necessarily in a bad way. Reading is luxury.
Kitchen dancing to the Beastie Boys when it’s too wet to go out, and when it clears, discovering that the bicycle in the shed is the key to sanity. Accidentally getting fitter, on account of all the cycling uphill, even while simultaneously discovering how to bake great biscuits, and baking them around the clock.
Getting in the sea, even though the water is only 11 degrees, to shock myself back to life after too much sofa. Doing the Wim Hof breathing while in the sea, so that I don’t inadvertently have a heart attack and take up a hospital bed. Walking and walking and walking.
Downloading six hours and six minutes of Brian Eno’s heavenly ambient mind-bloops Music For Airports, while being reminded that this is the nearest any of will get to an airport for the foreseeable. Feeling a strange warmth towards my teenage kids, after seeing the social media posts of other parents being driven mad by theirs, and realising mine are actually not too awful. In fact I quite like them.
But it’s the family Zoom quiz that’s been the unexpected highlight. Every week, a dozen faces in the squares of laptop screen, being presented with nuggets of knowledge we didn’t know we didn’t know until we knew them (Did you know that alpacas hum? Me neither, but I do now, and so do you).
All over lockdown, people are getting together to ask each other brilliant, daft, fascinating questions about the world around us, even as we can’t experience it directly. I love it.