The Lockdown Diaries – Zoom, Zoom, Zoom

6 weeks almost. Day 33 in fact. Level four is imminent and face masks have been purchased.

We used to read about things like this in textbooks. Now we’re the textbooks.

Spanish Flu, World Wars, Corona Virus. All very different, some with far worse outcomes than our own pandemic but all will have lasting effects on the globe.

Genuinely, maybe naively, I never thought we would experience anything like this in my lifetime.

World leaders losing the plot, some stepping up to the plate of responsibility and others hiding behind ‘fake news.’ His words not mine!!

Here in South Africa we are at a serious tipping point. Level four starts on Friday but for most that does not really change too much. Face masks will become compulsory and we may actually be able to take the kids out on their bikes to the end of the road but more on that later.

The real tipping point is whether the government allows specific industries to reopen so that people can work and put food on the table. Will industries that pump in so much revenue to the economy be allowed to carry on doing so? The wine industry can export but can’t produce for instance. That surely defeats any purpose.

A bottle of wine, cider or beer is not so much the issue but the people that press the grapes, bottle it, deliver the apples, label it, drive it to the shops, warehouses and general public are.

I could go on for hours about the connotations of all of this; which industry is suffering, who is suffering the most but when the figures of people dying of starvation, not being able to get the medical attention they need or  business collapses starts to outweigh the figures on Covid-19 then huge decisions will need to be made. Tough decisions of course but if we start to bankrupt the industries that will eventually drag this country out of a hole bigger than the one in Kimberley, then the economic model will create a much larger and more damaging effect on families across the nation. Effects that may not be repaired for decades.

Anyway, off the soap box and back to us.

The kids are still doing alright considering. Emilie had a birthday and Mik really pulled out all the stops to make it special for her. Top Mummy points to her!! Top Sister points for Issy as well.

Birthday cake baked, toys bought in advance, homemade wrapping paper from Issy, balloons, home crafted cards and some bunting! Beautiful. Emilie loved every second of it but the highlight came at lunch.

We had asked Emilie a while back what food she wanted on her birthday and she asked for pancakes in the morning and McDonalds at lunch.


McDonalds is closed during lockdown. We flew into action.

Issy made McDonalds Happy Meal boxes, Mik cooked homemade chicken nuggets and fries and I made the ‘drive thru’.

It was hilarious. Emilie pulled up to the window on her scooter and I was there with a ridiculously bad South African accent taking orders at one window, shouting out the wrong orders (just like our local Maccy D’s), taking money and keeping the change as a ‘tip’ (no comment about my local Maccy D’s) then running around to the next window to box it all up, add a toy and watch Emilie and Issy on their scooters speed off to the Stoep.

It will go down as yet another fantastic family memory from this enforced time together. There is a video doing the rounds with family and close friends that has brought much amusement.

Mik and I have done extremely well not to kill each other and to be honest we have only had the odd real snap at each other. I am as amazed as anyone because I know how irritating I can be. I say irritating, it is all funny in my world but not for everyone else!

I have pondered as to why we haven’t killed each other, which is a bit of a weird thing to do isn’t it? Why is something going well? Who cares? Crack on. I tend to analyse these things though and I have a theory or two.

We have always been an incredibly close-knit family and Mik and I have always been bold in what we do and the decisions we make. Whether we agree or disagree on something and a decision may not go our way with regards to the family, we back each other up on it.

The other thing is that, my word, we have been through some serious shit together. Read my other blogs if you want a synopsis on that but Mik’s recent redundancy during this pandemic is just another kick in the balls. We have steel balls, I think. Metaphorically I mean, it’s my belt and watch that set off the airport scanners and not my……moving swiftly on.

I am proud of this family and the way we have held it together over the six weeks and I will happily sound like a sycophantic Husband and Dad with pleasure in public.

A sad reality did hit us yesterday though. These kids need school and they need their friends even more so. We can pick up a phone and whatsapp, message, call anyone we want at any time we want but a four and a six year old don’t have that luxury. That’s the first time I have actually pondered this………right this second, here comes the tangent. I was going to talk about the bike riding on Friday, apologies, this is way more important.

Imagine not being able to see or hear your friends. Put yourself in a four and six year olds shoes and tell yourself that you can’t see, message or hear your friends at the drop of a hat. That’s mad! I wouldn’t cope as an adult if I couldn’t drop my mates a text to see how they are doing. Ask how they are coping. Are they coping at all?

Also, the memories that are being lost of time with their friends. My memories are of kicking a ball on the school field, chasing girls (extremely unsuccessfully I hasten to add) and just loving being around my mates in the classroom.

Well yesterday I got the answer to my question about the kids. They aren’t coping. This is hurting them more than they let on.

Issy’s beautiful teacher organised a Zoom call with all of the class. Not a lesson, no teaching, just a chance to all see themselves on the screen and simply say hello to each other.

It was beyond emotional. My little lady sat in front of us, she looked so vulnerable as she plucked up the courage to finally say hello to their dear friends.

Soon it turned into an all out love in. It was one girl telling Issy she loved her, another telling another they missed each other. It was real happiness then I saw the realisation kick in that they could only see each other and not touch.

I could visibly see the sadness in their eyes. I could see the longing to be together again. I could see them all wanting to not only hug each other but hug their teacher that they long to be with.

It was too much for Mik as she wept until she had to walk away.

Her words were simply this:

“This isn’t right. This just isn’t right, they need to be together”.

Issy tried to be strong after the call but she too had to let go and she ran to Mik to squeeze her and tell her how much she missed her friends. I would have got involved but I was hugging Emilie while she was upset because Issy had seen her friends and she hadn’t. Plus let’s be honest, I was balling like a baby as well.

My point is, kids are as resilient as they come but beneath that bubbly exterior may be a little soul that is crying inside. Talk to them and ask them how they are feeling. You don’t need a phone to do that.



One thought on “The Lockdown Diaries – Zoom, Zoom, Zoom

  1. Beautifully written as ever Andy. To be perfectly honest I think we are all grieving inside, I don’t think things will ever be the same again. With much love to you all. Tim. x


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