This is the fourth instalment of LOVE AND WAGE LABOUR IN THE AGE OF CAPITALIST PANDEMIC. These instalments are journal entries entitled with only their date. I wanted to try to document this time, the time of COVID-19. It struck me that I was having conversations with people who were all having unique experiences of this pandemic, and that most of these conversations, like all memories, would fall away. I wanted to document it. These are my experiences only. I hope you find something in them. – Madeleine
I lost both my jobs in one week. All gone. One of my bosses, for my ‘main’ job, sent us the message on Whatsapp, declaring that the place will close ‘Indefinitely’ and that they don’t have sufficient funds to provide us with any compensation. After spending a week at home playing Mariokart on my flatmate’s Nintendo Switch and applying for various housing schemes, I retreated to the north to stay with my mum. She came down in the car, scooped us up (my partner and I), filled the car with houseplants and my favourite cushions and zoomed back to Manchester. It’s hard. I sobbed leaving my home. Everything felt razor-sharp. I can’t afford to be there any more. The newspapers were buzzing about a ‘London Lockdown’, whereby the gov. would ban movement in and out of London. So, we rushed out. No lockdown as of yet, but I fear it’s only a matter of time. Looking at the way Italy is suffering, I am pretty terrified for the weeks and months ahead.
With nothing to do but be at home, it’s wearying to busy myself. As much as families love each other, it’s bizarre to be together, all the time, not doing anything. Well, not not doing ANYTHING. There’s always work to be done. But a lot of it is sitting on Twitter and worrying. And worrying, and worrying. With the occasional game of scrabble.
My partner and I decided to self isolate. Of course, we’re with my mum, a dilemma I continually worry about – what if we give her the virus? I can’t really think about it. But otherwise, we are not going anywhere, except to walk our dog in the field behind the house, crossing paths with almost nobody, and at a distance.
The government just announced they would pay 80% of people’s wages, through the Job Retention Scheme. By the end of April, we’ll be getting paid again, supposedly. I’m putting pressure on my management to do this. I don’t trust it – not one bit – but I’m hoping that for many people it is a source of ease, that tiny hope of support, for the future.
Meanwhile, I am making quarantine plans. Things on my list so far:
- Drawing (I can’t fucking draw. Maybe Victor will teach me)
- Journalling (tick)
- Knitting (need to learn to knit first)
- Yoga (is this realistic)
- Dog walking
- Watering my plants
- Taking baths
- Watching films
- Netflix Party with my friends in London
- New recipes
- Finding students to tutor online (notice how far down this is on the list. Gulp)
- Learn to plant a vegetable
- Catch up on 1 year of lost sleep
Oh, and Mum has done yet another tadpole rescue mission. (For context: she rescues frogspawn from puddles which will dry up and kill the frogspawn. She raises them in the garden and then releases them later, in small batches.) We came home to a living room full of giant Tupperware, full of frogspawn and little tadpoles, wriggling around while she feeds them spinach. My dog is intrigued but not brave enough to intervene. Mum said if she were allowed, she’d have all the children on the street round to learn about the circle of life.
I don’t want to get depressed here. I feel I’m going through a selfish stage. I obviously would never break quarantine. But all I want to do is play video games with my friends and have no responsibilities. I also know I am of no use in London. There’s no point in my being there, so I’m here. At least there’s fresh air.