My Lockdown Lessons |Wales | Sue’s View

Well, I don’t know about you but I’m completely confused about which ‘new normal’ we are currently in, and what exactly that even means.

So as I work that one out, and try to make that long, leisurely, walk out of Lockdown, I’ve taken a little look back at all the things I’ve learned during my queer quarantine:

I like people – too much…or not at all.

This crazy Coronavirus time brought out the best, and worst of us. I was absolutely blown away by the kindness of strangers, the love of my nearest and dearest, and the camaderie of the community.

Hung my head in despair though at the selfish sods who, greedily grabbed the loo roll, blatantly bulldozed their way to the front of the queue, and spouted spite, and much misinformation, all over the Socials.

After years of wanting to clean my house and not having the time – I found that wasn’t the reason.

Sorry but whilst I like SVJ’s Sanctuary to be stylish and sparkly – just like me, I was in no mood to spend my isolation nation days bleaching the bannister, tackling tile grout with a toothbrush, and scrubbing the front step like some 50’s housewife stuck in a terrible time warp.

Jesus wept did you see all the show offs on the Socials too. I almost felt like we were in some Covid competition over who could decorate their house faster than Nick Knowles on Speed. And all those ‘loving my garden’ piccies – be honest, it was just a chance to show off what your bloke had done with the decking wasn’t it.

One hour of exercise only – and the whole of Barry is doing their Duke of Edinburgh.

Totally take on board, the sage advice to keep our battered bodies moving, and our muddled minds calm during the sudden shut down. One hour’s activity around the block was well-worth the benefits it brought for sure.

But I couldn’t help chuckle constantly at the amount of newly-converted fitness fanatics Power Walking past me – and I was in the car. You could hardly see the sidewalk for runners, racers, and riders. And, if the sun was shining, half of Barry were suddenly out doing their Duke of Edinburgh.

I didn’t manage to work out with Wicks – that’ll be the tenth year in a row then.

I admire those who limbered up in the living room, set up gyms in the study, or kept a kitchen space free for all those web workouts. We all know it makes sense to hit up the healthy lifestyle to save our sanity, build the body, and stay slim – lets be honest, nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.

For me though the thought of standing in a trackie in front of the telly trying to take advice from those fitness fortune making gurus, whilst the walls shook to every squat, was a step too far. Truth be told, I’d rather run – 5k to couch potato and all that…or is it the other way around.

The worst part of online shopping – having to get up and get your card out of your purse.

Made a pact in March, with all the Gigs gone, Prides pushed backed, Festivals finished, and travel trashed, to save some of my hard-earned cash.

Knew I was doomed from the minute I panic bought a Hairy Bikers Casserole Dish, started comparing the cost of kitchen utensils, and just had to have a selfie stick and cactus-shaped candles.

I also couldn’t resist getting some gear. God knows why I desperately needed a new leather jacket – that’s the seventh one in the wardrobe waiting to be worn…when there’s actually somewhere to wear it to, of course.

It’s all fun and games – until the freebie Zoom runs out.

Well, what a revelation the super highway seemed to be. Talking to the Team on Microsoft, faffing about with my Faves on facetime, keeping the blog business booming on Google. And zapping all my collection of eclectic friends on Zoom.

Well, for about fifteen mins in some cases. Us Gig Girls usually spent the first five minutes shouting, ‘can you hear me,’ and then another five saying, ‘can you see me’ whilst we all worked out how to put the camera on. Gallery View vexed the soul of many an attendee, the screen froze far too often, and then the whole bloody thing went blank because we were all too tight to take out a subscription.

Hairdressers are a non-essential business – go take a seat.

I’m sorry, and you can call me shallow if you like, but one of the things I missed most was my weekly wander to the Hairdressers to get the locks luscious for the weekend. Save beach holidays, and the odd occasion when a gorgeous girlfriend grabbed the GHD’s, I haven’t blow dried my own hair for about sixteen years.

Can’t quite believe I spent over twenty weeks with a hairstyle that looked more like Ab Fab’s Patsy every day – as my tied back bun thingy with bits, got bigger and bigger. Well, not the colour of course, my roots were darker than an episode of Nordic Noir, and to add insult to injury, grew lank and limp – I looked more like Iggy Pop than he did.

Working at home – more like living at work.

Thankfully, I was swiftly seconded to the Welsh Government Emergency Co-rodination Centre to try to help our country deal with the metaphorical car crash that was Covid 19. Spent the first three months keeping myself busy on seven day shift work.

But now, new Project picked up, I’m stuck in the Study, twice weekly, trying to work out the Wifi, wean myself off periodically printing everything, whilst sharing the space with a home-schooled teenager who told me his laptop was lost in Lockdown week one. The struggle is real.

If this is what Retirement’s like – I’m working until I’m 92.

I personally can’t wait to get back to the newest normal that sees some of the work life balance back. I know it will probably never be the same, and I see the sort of gains gleaned from cutting out the commuter chaos.

Bu working from home, seeing the social life shot to pieces, and spending any spare time in the garden makes me feel like a Pensioner – I do like to potter like one, I know, but not 24/7.

It’s been seven months and fifteen days – since you took my life away.

Well, maybe not that long but Sinead’s song popped on the radio whilst I was writing this, so it would be rude, as a music lover, not to tip a tribute to Prince. For me, this Lockdown, that snapped everything shut in March, and may still see us starting to step back again in September, has been a double-edged sword.

Truth be told, although I may have moaned for Wales, my attitude of gratitude has really brought home how blessed I am. I’m hugely grateful to still have a job, and not face any wages woe.

I’m so lucky that none of my loved ones were dealt a direct blow by the disease, my marvellous mates have made my virtual social life very varied, and my cute-even-now kids have kept me sane.

To be fair, I’ve also learned to live a much cleaner and leaner lifestyle. I now realise that I did want the kitchen – it didn’t just come with the house. And who knew that great big garden I always saw as a chore has turned out to be my happy place.

Being part of our public service sector striving to keep Wales safe was so richly rewarding, I’ve helped make history with our first ever Wales Wide Pride, reignited my passion for activism, and my blogging business is booming big time.

A kind of blessing and a curse Coronavirus chapter really then.

Time to turn the page.

Speak soon.




Sue Vincent-Jones, writing as Mrs SVJ, is a Barry born journalist, editor, and communications specialist. She blogs about Barry – and her life in the wider world, through the eyes of a, quirky and queer, local girl done good.

My Corona Virus Diary is her take on this pandemic palaver – the long lingering Lockdown, our queer quarantine, the isolation nation, and how our town took to these crazy Covid-19 times.

Mrs SVJ, Barry’s Boldest Blogger, can be contacted here.