Day 1: Life is like a box of chocolates

Tuesday, 17th of March

Overwhelming feeling that I’m going to wake up and realise it’s all a dystopian dream. Last night, president Macron announced the start of the confinement period. That followed last week’s announcement that schools were to close from this week.

Kids taking it in their stride, as kids do. Finding the fun in it – my eight-year old keeps saying he’s on “corona-vacances”. I don’t quite see it that way.

We all get up at usual time, have breakfast while listening to “coronanews” on France Inter. France’s equivalent of the BBC, a public service radio station, has made massive adjustments to its normal schedule: most journalists are working from home, and there are call-ins morning, lunch and evening for worried listeners to get some answers to their many questions in these uncertain times.

Then we get dressed (would they go to school in pyjamas?) and sit down to work. As per plan, established by kids and myself, mornings are devoted to homeschooling – they even have a 10-minute récré (French for school break) during which they go downstairs into the sad little courtyard of our building with a volleyball (we don’t have a garden).

Midday: homework done & I go out for my first run in these strange times: number five on the list of exemptions for leaving your home during the confinement period is “short trips, near your home, linked to individual physical activity”. Last week, while everyone else was stocking up on toilet roll, I had the good idea of buying myself a fancy new pair of running shoes – seemed like the obvious thing to do. Parc near my house where I normally run is closed, so I decide to run along the banks of the Rhône river. As the sun shines ridiculously bright in the clear blue sky on this first day of confinement, the few people outdoors include runners, a few families and clusters of youths, braving the government ban before it is strictly enforced.

After lunch – made by quarantined Otherhalf who is home for 14 days after one of his colleagues displayed Covid19 symptoms – kids and I make an iPhone movie. They choose the confinement-friendly theme: two burglars break into our flat and steal all my jewellery. After drafting a storyboard, we shoot the 13 scenes, which tech-savvy Otherhalf edits into a 3-minute short. Part two, which involves a pair of Dupond & Dupont-style detectives, is scheduled to be shot in the coming days and will be out in a theatre near you as soon as cinemas re-open.

In the evening, we watch “Forest Gump” as part of my effort to introduce my screen-starved kids to film classics over the coming weeks. Life is definitely like a box of chocolates: you never know what you’re gonna get. I would never have imagined this.

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