That clink-clanking you can hear is the sound of weary Scots doing one final trip to the bottle bank before the pubs open again.
We have been living with this pandemic for over a year now. That’s a long time – whether you count it in weeks, months or inches of excess body hair.
As restrictions are eased and we look ahead to better times, it’s also a good opportunity to look back.
The coronavirus crisis has been characterised by loss and sacrifice. But maybe, among all that heartache, we might have gained something too.
I’ve learned a lot. None of my new-found knowledge is particularly useful, right enough. I didn’t learn a new language or a musical instrument. I’ve still not got a scooby what Bitcoin is or whether it’s worth searching down the back of the couch to try to find some.
I didn’t master the perfect poached egg. I still don’t know what the meaning of life is but I suspect it might have something to do with hugs.
But I did learn that my mum is always right.
For decades she has tutted and sighed a disappointed ‘’oh hen’’ every time I’ve done something to my hair to try and tame it into submission.
Time and again she told me to LEAVE IT ALONE and I didn’t listen.
It grew and swished and now I don’t need to spritz half a bottle of anti-frizz serum on it before I leave the house. Not that I leave the house often these days but you get the gist
I hacked at it with kitchen scissors. I straightened it, tonged and blow-dried it to within an inch of its life. And yes, I bleached it. At home.
I turned my naturally jet-black locks near white over the course of one day using nothing more than idiotic determination and five boxes of Superdrug’s own-brand.
It was so damaged that I had to get it all cut off. It was never the same again.
Then lockdown came and I finally did as my mum told me and left it alone. And it grew and grew and swished and now I don’t need to spritz half a bottle of anti-frizz serum on it before I leave the house. Not that I leave the house often these days but you get the gist, I learned something!
I also learned the secret to a tidy house. It started with YouTube – as all great knowledge-seeking adventures do – and a mild-mannered Minnesotan who has a voice like honey and the reassuring presence of a librarian.
She told me (and her millions of subscribers) that we all have too much stuff. Stuff is inventory that you need to manage.
She suggested that I simply get rid of most of my stuff and so I did, because the pubs are shut and there’s nothing else to do.
Even though she is arguably the biggest generator of mess in our house, I decided to keep my seven year-old. But I got rid of nearly everything else.
The most dramatic decluttering happened in the kitchen. I reduced my cupboard “inventory’’ down to the point where I now have only four cups.
I have a dedicated drawer for glitter and PVA glue but I don’t have a junk drawer.
There are no Allen keys, random cables, wee Christmas cracker toys or Scottish Parliament election leaflets anywhere in my house. It is always tidy. I just pray that no more than three of my aunties come for a cup of tea post-lockdown.
I also learned to stop saying ‘’There aren’t enough hours in the day!’’.
There ARE enough hours in the day. It turns out, I’m just lazy. At the start of lockdown I had no work coming in. Making the towel cupboard look pretty was the only thing on my to-do list.
I had plenty of time. Too much time. Spoiler alert: I didn’t write a book. I didn’t even write a shopping list.
If I ever have that much time on my hands again I’m going to offer it to somebody more productive than me so they can do something useful with it.
Life begins at 40 but the real fun begins at 70
This next one might be controversial but it is also true and the purpose of this exercise is to share my lockdown wisdom with you all – so I’m going to give it to you straight.
The over 70s are the most fun age group. That’s the demographic of my street, apart from my daughter and I. We reduce the fun-factor slightly, but not by too much.
While my 30-something pals were entertaining themselves with Zoom-quizzes and Facetime dates, I was having socially-distanced drinks in the garden with my 80-and-a-bit year-old neighbour, Maureen.
Lockdown isn’t something I will look back on fondly but those moments – me, Maureen and our neighbours – I will treasure forever
She’s the social butterfly of our street. Pre-lockdown, I could always tell when it was her knitting group night by the sound of laughter and clinking bottles echoing through the close.
During lockdown I hit the jackpot because she was never too busy with prior social engagements to drink wine with me.
Lockdown isn’t something I will look back on fondly but those moments – of me, Maureen and our neighbours shouting conversation at one another from two meters apart while laughing at the ridiculousness of it all – I will treasure forever.
That’s another thing I’ve learned, actually. Scots are unfairly stereotyped as dour. And it’s nonsense. Even when we’re all wearing masks and forced to stand apart we can still find reasons to laugh.