Don’t do the ironing - there’s no point - our dear homelife in the shutdown

PUBLISHED: 15:14 08 April 2020 | UPDATED: 15:14 08 April 2020

Ironing - do we need to bother? Picture: SAFFRON PHOTO

Ironing - do we need to bother? Picture: SAFFRON PHOTO

Saffron Photo 2019

Pity Samira Ahmed on Radio 4’s arts programme, Front Row. There’s so little on, she almost said: “I’ll be talking to Valerie my next door neighbour who paints vases.”

Ironing - do we need to bother? Picture: SAFFRON PHOTOIroning - do we need to bother? Picture: SAFFRON PHOTO

To stop the nation going stir crazy, people are holding Skype dinner parties. Put the world to rights over a glass of wine - why don’t we? No one has to drive home.

We are dancing to 80s discos at Live Watch Parties.

A grandmother was worried that phone conversations with a seven-year-old might falter. So she devised a project. Each would ask the other to find out five facts.

So far, he has investigated crocodiles and places in London. She has looked at superheroes and YouTube influencers.

Two little children in Scotland wanted to go to a restaurant. Their parents created The Restaurant of Mummy and Daddy.

The youngsters arrived at the back door and were shown to their table. “My name’s Mummy and I’m your waitress for this evening.”

She gave them each a menu, and she took their drinks orders on a pad. When the older child wanted two different flavours of ice cream, waitress Mummy said she would ask chef (Daddy dressed in whites) but she couldn’t see it being a problem.

Some businesses rapidly adapted. A pub in Baldock has become a corner shop. The profits are going to local musicians now out of work.

It’s been hard for radio and TV. Have I Got News for You really wasn’t the same broadcast from box rooms and kitchens, though Miles Jupp did a splendid job of laughing as if the jokes were funny.

Pity Samira Ahmed on Radio 4’s arts programme, Front Row. She almost said: “I’ll be talking to Valerie my next door neighbour who paints vases.”

Asked for ways to keep up our spirits, Cambridge Professor of Clinical Neuropsychology Barbara Sahakian, suggests we think of five good things about the lockdown and five bad.

But the good things seem trivial. OK: strangers smile hello on walks. In our house, they have stopped wasting food. Going out again will be such a delight I shall enjoy going to places I can’t stand, There’s a lot less washing and there’s absolutely no point in ironing.

But how long before the Blitz spirit wears off?

Reports from Palermo say the Italians are no longer singing on their balconies. They are more worried about poverty than the virus and there are now long queues at food banks.”

Andrew Marr on BBC One on Sunday, talked about an apartheid of people with and without gardens. He described “Doomsday scientists”.

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Interviewing the epidemiologist, Neil Ferguson from Imperial College London, (on whose calculations the isolation has been based) he told the academic he had become known as as Professor Lockdown.

“When you look in the mirror,” Marr asked: “Are you sure you have got it right?”

Millions of people are now out of work. Every enterprise that closes, has a domino effect. A lot of small businesses fear they may never open again.

We know with poverty go crime and domestic abuse, which according to the National Abuse Helpline has soared.

There are dissenting voices. Robert Silman, a former consultant at Barts Hospital, said we can calculate the numbers who will die of a virus but not how many people will perish of destitution and despair.

We have ignored other pandemics. But then homelessness and the refugee crisis aren’t catching.

This has come after 10 years of a war against the poor.

Before the crisis, the Royal College of Nursing warned about axing bursaries for nurses’ training. One in 10 nursing posts was vacant. The NHS was drastically underfunded and under-resourced.

All local authorities had their budgets cut – some by 80 per cent.

Every state school has it’s funding cut and the Education Maintenance Allowance was ended.

The homeless were not in handfuls, but whole communities. Under the bridge in Finsbury Park in London, people had set up a row of double beds.

Food banks were the norm. Schools gave them harvest festival goods. Children collected for them instead of trick or treat.

People knew it was wrong. They just disagreed on what had caused it. That’s why Brexit split us.

Suddenly, hospitals are a priority – and we can build them in a fortnight. Places must be found for the elderly who don’t need to be in hospital.

The government has now decreed that homeless people must be housed, but it hasn’t given local authorities any extra money to do it.

Families of school children with “holiday hunger” are to have a £15 food voucher. Is that an adequate replacement?

At last we see that what affects one, affects all. The virus is a litmus paper for the way we have been living.

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