No I bloody don’t want to self-improve during coronavirus lockdown thanks

This Easter I don’t want to learn to make hot cross buns, or bloody Simnel cake. Nor do I want to learn how to craft cutsey little chicks in baskets, or hand paint personalised Easter cards, or even whip up homemade chocolate truffle ‘eggs’.

And whilst I’m at it, I don’t want to learn a new language, get fit and lose weight, make fucking sourdough, write a novel (jury’s maybe out on that one), or meditate every day.

I don’t care about Tiger King – it looks unsavory and not nice for tigers – and as for learning to make my own pasta or learning to bake… I’m 50 years old. Who the hell gets to 50 without knowing how to do that already?

Deepak Chopra’s 21 Days of Abundance. No! Foraging and hedgewitchery? No! Making tofu. Egad. No!

What’s wrong with everyone? Have you all gone mad?

I’m writing today, in case you hadn’t realised it yet, about the hideous, insidious message that if you’re not doing something productive or creative in lockdown you’re somehow failing. Whatever else I’ve learned about Self-Isolation in Covid-19 Times, it’s that there’s expectation out there, and it’s worse than ever.

Fed up with lockdown coronavirus Sam Harrington-Lowe


I watch friends of mine, parents with businesses or jobs, trying desperately to home school and earn a crust at the same time, whilst being locked in together trying not to kill each other. Yet still feeling somehow that if they’re not crocheting a new life or cooking up a virus-beating foraged nettle soup and posting it on Instagram (hastag inittogether), they’re somehow inadequate.

People are trying not to go mad, locked in with The Fear and their ghastly families. That’s challenge enough, frankly

Stop this shit! So many people are literally just trying to rise above the panic of incarceration on a daily basis, and this jolly heartiness is unfathomably icky. They’re trying desperately not to go mad, locked in with The Fear and their ghastly families, or on their own, trying to stay sane. That’s challenge enough, frankly. They don’t need more pressure.

Goalcast is touting a smarmy ‘get better at life’ video on Facey at the moment with the caption, “NOW is the time to conquer the little tasks in life, because this pandemic may open windows of opportunity for long-awaited change… So how are you going to conquer today?”

Um, well actually I’m going to try not to leave my house, for the umpteenth day, and I’m going to work, like I do every other week. And make a meal with whatever shite is in the fridge. And not crack up, thanks. How about you?


For me – and for countless thousands of others – this pandemic is largely business as usual. We work quietly at our desks, breaking out occasionally for calls or meetings, and not only have you now got to try and crack through that, you’ve got to do it at home. With children/pets/other halves whining around your feet, trying to do Down Dogs and fucking PE, whilst you’re preparing a presentation and trying not to look like Jabba the Hut on Zoom.

How to cope working at home coronavirus

And my god I hate online meetings. I know they’re a lifeline for keeping things rolling. But the awkwardness. The glitchy connectivity. The backgrounds of clients’ homes. It’s SO WEIRD!

The things I miss terribly about this whole situation I can probably count on one hand. I miss long drunken lunches with friends probably the most of all. The other things are less of an issue, but it’s the company of my beloved mates that’s the loss here.

Which brings me on to my next ugh. Jesus, the WhatsApp groups, and groups on Facebook. Sorry to those of you who have added me to them – you’ll probably notice I’m conspicuous by my lack of interaction. I find these things terribly uncomfortable, sorry. And I can’t believe it’s just me.

I want to join in, in my head. And I feel like I should make the effort. But then I open the thread and I’m filled with dread. And as for online group events like drinks evenings and so on. Okay, I know these are a salvation for some people, but the idea fills me with a desire to hide behind the sofa. Sorry girls who’ve added me to these things. I love all of you individually but the group stuff makes me feel like I’m at school trying to do House competitions. And being the weakest link.

Speaking personally, I am just trying to get through each day alive. And in the evenings I eat, maybe watch Poirot because it’s safe and cosy and not real. I might even read a book – but I’m knackered from a day’s work. Remember that, those of you furloughed?! I still have to do the do. It’s no different for me right now.

And I talk to people on the phone, but individually. I love a chat, but I don’t want to do it in front of loads of others. That’s just weird – and feels like when you’re made to do a presentation that nobody really wants to hear.

I appreciate that people are just trying to cope, I really do. And if this stuff works for you, and you have the time, then great – I don’t want to take the joy out of making something and learning new things away from you, I really don’t. But I think for a lot of people, this hearty, jolly homespun craft stuff is just something else to stress about. Another pressure. And yes, particularly for women.

Me? I have simple needs. I want to go on holiday, want to have lunch with mates. How I miss inappropriate nights out. And I want not to die of Covid-19. Right now I want to just relax when I’m not working, and not feel like I have to whip up a storm in the kitchen and master new skills. Honestly, I congratulate myself for getting up each day and not giving in to ennui. I don’t need to fight with learning Inuit on top of those challenges.

So for now I’ll just watch you guys making sculptures and learning origami, if that’s okay. And be happy for you.

And wait for this thing to be over.

8 Replies to “No I bloody don’t want to self-improve during coronavirus lockdown thanks”

  1. I have achieved nothing today, why would I ? I haven’t entered a competition because I’m not competitive. I didn’t sleep well last night so feel someone/something owes me.

    1. Yes, this activity is competitive, isn’t it. An observation I think I missed. As for your night – I’d say you’ve earned an afternoon snooze. That’s what I’d do!

  2. I get your point about compulsively sharing stuff and group activities on social media. It’s digital bile. That’s why – for many years now – I’m only on it for a few mins at a time. And days/weeks can go by when I don’t even so much as peek.
    Luckily for me, I’m a inveterate potterer. Practical jobs around the house, little creative forays, bike maintenance, gardening, baking, building crap out of scrapwood, a drop of daily yoga, stroking the cat (not a euphemism). Lots of stuff. Oh yeah, and a full-time job that’s got even fucking busier since I’ve been WFH with back-to-back meetings all day every day.
    So, maybe I’ll just stop and stare today.
    And when I’ve done that I’ll get back to literally anything that will keep me busy enough for long enough to stop me from dwelling on or descending further into this fucked-up corner we find ourselves in. That’s my plan…what d’ya think?
    PS nice choice of pics to go with the article

    1. Thanks Paul. I have positive and ‘less positive’ days! Overall though maybe we all put too much pressure on ourselves 🙂

  3. Maybe being older makes one a bit more relaxedly philosophical. As grandma said, nothing lasts, neither good nor bad. Although I understand and sympathise with your view, remember it is ALWAYS easier to be negative than positive. You are alive, thinking, creating and planning for the future, all positive……

    1. I disagree. Actually I think it’s way easier to be positive, and generally I am. What I’m seeing all over social media though is this pressure to ‘achieve’. Even in times of crisis – and that’s my beef here. There’s an assumption that suddenly everyone has loads of time to do self-improving activity. Actually that’s not the case for me – or for thousands of others! X

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