Day 7: The UK locks down

Monday, 23rd March

Wow: Boris Trump (not a typo) has gone from “herd immunity” to confinement in just 10 days. I speak to a friend in the UK, who is home alone with her two young children. Her husband is abroad and cannot return, her au pair has returned to France, her parents are out of bounds (her father is having chemotherapy), and work has run out (she, too, is a freelancer). She is one of the strongest people I know, and she sounds worried. I try to give her some tips about homeschooling (because I have a whole week’s experience!) and decide to get this blog up and running asap.

The kids and I get to work: keeping the routine is the only way we can manage this, I believe. Otherhalf, who is still in quarantine for another week, helps with the homeschooling and does DIY work around the flat. I can tell he is getting serious cabin fever. We have managed not to have a single row since confinement began: intimacy doesn’t always breed contempt. Our days still revolve much around food. Luckily, he loves cooking and we love eating.

Despite advice from mother-in-law not to go out, I take my daughter out for a bit of exercise. We run into a neighbour and his son at the nearby playground which is normally filled with children and parents. We belong to an urban gardening group, whose HQ is in a disused basket-ball court round the corner from our flat. We can’t help popping our heads in and picking some coriander. But the confinement rules exclude using shared gardens, so we don’t hang around.

Flowers growing in our shared garden

In the evening, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe gives an interview on national tv to announce they will be tightening the confinement measures. Tomorrow, he is expected to announce an extension of the initial 2-week confinement period. It could last as long as 6 weeks, or more. The death toll among French doctors treating Covid patients has risen to five. Dozens of people are dying in old people’s homes across France, sometimes alone because the staff is overstretched and families are no longer allowed to visit for fear of the virus spreading. The violence of what is happening is staggering.

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