When I first started working as a computer programmer my dear Mum would always describe my job to others as ‘working with computers’, which was in fairness, strikingly accurate. Of course, these days most people work, and so much more with computers.
But this is dependent on one critical element – an internet connection. Because this is so important, I long ago implemented a rudimentary warning system that alerts me whenever the Wi-Fi in the villa significantly slows down or drops altogether. It’s called ‘Archie’. It’s crude, but astonishingly effective.
Or at least it was.
Today it seems to have failed. The Wi-Fi dropped and rather than the usual alert in the form of impatient and over exaggerated huffing and puffing, Archie quietly slipped away to play outside. No fuss. No complaining. As we keep on hearing, these truly are unprecedented times. The fact that he happened to be in the middle of a Spanish lesson at the time is, I am sure, completely unrelated.
I do have a secondary, backup system in place called ‘Jo’, but this doesn’t usually kick in until much later in the day.
We were without an internet connection for around two weeks. Or it might have been hours. During lockdown we have become reliant on our computers and mobile devices more so than ever before. We work, play, socialise, shop, bank and just idle the boredom away. Schooling is done online. We get our news and coronavirus updates from digital newspapers and of course from ‘Carol’, the internet expert on all things. Going Out has been replaced by Staying In with virtual pubs, on-line festivals and Zoom get-togethers. Even when we finally take a break from our screens to do something offline, we get ideas and inspiration from websites we find online.
Whether you’re a fan or not, there’s no getting away from the fact that lockdown would be a whole lot different if it wasn’t for the internet.
And right now we are without it and our lockdown life is temporary on hold.
Unable to work, Archie unable to attend ‘school’ and Jo unable to shop, we broke out the Giant Jenga and enjoyed some spontaneous unplugged family time in the garden. I do like the way that the lockdown has this habit of forcing us back to basics and concentrating our time on what really matters. When this is all over, I think I will miss that aspect of it.
Eventually, someone at The Internet must have switched it off and back on again because our ‘new normal’ life recommenced. Tonight, during the daily 8 ‘o clock clap for frontline workers, we’ll be applauding that guy too.
A rather strange thing happened today. I got up early. And then I went for a walk.
It might come as a bit of surprise to learn that I am not exactly fanatical about fitness and sport. Well, it might do, only if you’ve never met me or seen a photo of me. But I do like to walk. But it’s been a while since I’ve done any proper hiking. In fact, until very recently, it had been quite a while since I did any walking at all, other than from the sunbed to the fridge and back again.
Prior to the lockdown Jo and I always walked Archie to school. It’s really not very far although we’d often take a longer, more scenic route back home. Never quite far enough to legitimately class it as ‘exercise’, but certainly far enough to prevent our joints stiffening up completely. I miss those walks.
So, I decided to go for a brisk walk before starting work this morning. And I really enjoyed it. I thought I was getting used to the care-free, not sticking to a schedule way of living, and I wasn’t particularly enamoured with being given very specific time slots to go out. But I’ve actually found that starting my day with a regular walk, rather than just heading straight from sleep to work, not only puts me in a better frame of mind but also adds a daily feeling of accomplishment. Most weeks I usually don’t get that feeling until at least late Thursday afternoon. Maybe then a tiny bit of structure to my day isn’t such a bad thing.
The State of Alarm here in Spain was approved and extended for another two weeks today. Once again, some British press headlined this as bad thing or a step backwards. It is not. The State of Alarm runs for two weeks at a time. It has done this since the lockdown began back in March. It gives the Government extraordinary powers to apply the lockdown and the rules of it. If it was not extended, then it would simply mean the lockdown was over and completely done with. I don’t think there’s much appetite for that here. With the State Alarm extended the Government can continue to proceed with the planned phased de-escalation.
On Monday we move to Phase 1, which, amongst other things, means outside terrace restaurants and bars can start opening, albeit under some quite stringent conditions, and also, excitingly, we can meet up with up to 10 friends. I’m really looking forward to next weekend when we have been invited to a ‘Coming Out BBQ’. Actually, so far, I’m the only one calling it that. But it might catch on.
The UK Government also announced their intention to relax their lockdown rules today. I really wouldn’t want to work in politics, representing any party right now, whether making big decisions or publicly opposing them. I’ll stick to ‘Working With Computers’, thank you very much. But I think it’s fair to say there was a collective gasp heard right across Spain when that was announced. I’ll say no more.
I have continued with my new early morning daily walk regime; I find it clears my mind. Although not so much that I have any real idea which day of the week it is today.
It’s been a week of celebrations and occasions. Last Friday was May Day and here in Spain, quite sensibly, it was a public holiday which I observed with the day off work. In the UK, it would have normally been celebrated on Monday this week, but this year Bank Holiday Monday is tomorrow, Friday, to coincide with the VE Day anniversary. So the weekend starts early this week making today feel like Friday. But it’s not; it’s Thursday. Got it? To summarise, tomorrow is Bank Holiday Monday which I already celebrated last Friday but will also observe again with a day off tomorrow.
When it comes to public holidays, I enjoy dual nationality.
Last Sunday was Mother’s Day in Spain, but we celebrated that in March. Except we couldn’t really celebrate anything because of the lockdown.
Today is our good friend Sarah’s Birthday, which we’ll have to celebrate one day next week when we move to Phase 1 and are then allowed to meet up with friends.
When did celebrating anything get so difficult and confusing? 55 days ago, I suppose. And it’s only going to get more confusing when we come out of lockdown and start re-celebrating all the things we didn’t properly celebrate during it.
I think I need another walk.
Here’s to everyone that’s celebrating, or not as the case may be during this confusing time.
And everyone: Enjoy VE day tomorrow however you manage to mark the occasion.