COVID-19 Lockdown - Week One
Updated: Apr 3, 2020
On Tuesday 24th I was informed by my work that from this point on, all staff have been asked to work from home. I had taken my camera to work with me that day, so I decided to start documenting my experience of this pandemic. Why? Three reasons. Firstly, I think it will be great to be able to show my kids in the years to come. They're young and naive to the severity of it all currently. I feel strongly that we have a responsibility to tell our own stories, this is especially true now, before this time is abridged to a paragraph or two, in our grandchildren's history books. Secondly, I like to photograph the 'everyday' anyway. We live in a culture that has grown used to shocking photography and sensitive materials, often sighted in our day to day media consumption. Aside from the thousands of snaps we all take and share online, there doesn't seem to be many people photographing everyday sights and sounds in a creative and meaningfull way. I often think of a quote by Elliot Erwitt...
“To me, photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place…. I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.”
...and finally, it will give me something creative to do. Something to keep my photography flowing and focused.
On the way home form work, I stopped at the post office to send a couple of parcels. People were queuing two metres apart and the line was all the way through the shop.
On my way out, I noticed a group of people in the school car park opposite, giving out bags to people. I walked over to investigate and found that they were handing out essential items in bags such as bread, tinned food, soap, cereal, toilet roll and pasta. I asked if I could take a couple of portraits and they told me that it was ok.
I then visited Tesco to pick up some supplies. Whilst I was in there, it was still early days to see people wandering around with gloves and masks on, so I took a couple of photographs. After paying for my items, the security guard swiftly commandeered myself and asked why I as taking photographs. I reassured him that I didn't work for any media outlets and that as a photographer, I was simply documenting important events, he seemed approving of this and let me past.
And so, I headed home. As I was driving home, I remember wondering how the kids would cope through all this. Would they understand? How will we keep them entertained? How will their own e-learning work? I was focusing on the uncertain elements about to unfold. I then remember thinking about the positives. More time with my family. At least I will be close to the people I love. At least I will have more time to FaceTime my parents. At least we are all in this together. It's this mixture of comfort and uncertainty that I want to document.
Wednesday consisted of mostly trying to keep the kids entertained whilst seriously discussing what we needed to do as a family. A food shop was top of the list for us so we decided that I would go to Tesco later that evening in the hope that it was quieter. I found it interesting that at 5pm when we turned the news on for the daily update, the kids knew to go and play in their room and we didn't have to ask them.
Tesco was even more strange than the last visit. There were now arrowing directing shoppers around in a 'one way' fashion. The isles had hazard tape on the floors two metres apart, I was encourage to wash my trolly before use and everyone just looked a little anxious.
All feeling a bit weary today. We kept the kids entertained with Jenga, Mud Pies and Marvel films whilst attempting a bit of DIY in the garden. Today, the government revealed a 'self employment' relief package which doesn't really seem to help anyone I know or myself in any way. As my self employed earnings make up around 48% of my earnings, I can not claim anything. Most people I know who can, can't get anything until June anyway, so there seems to be an increased sense of stress, tension and anxiety in the local communities. Cornwall had more self employment (in ration to population) than any other part of the UK, so this seemed like something that would really hit our county hard.
It's my birthday! Last week when I thought about the strong possibility of being isolated for my birthday, I felt like postponing it until next year! Actually, I had an awesome day. It was sunny, I got to hang out with my family all day, my partner, Dannielle made me an amazing cake and bought me a crate of beer! Perfect.
We also found out that Boris Johnson tested positive for Coronavirus today. Crazy!...
Today began with a quick trip to the local pharmacy. I suffer from Seborrheic dermatitis and I left my cream in my office at work before the building was locked down. I currently have an itchy rash all over my nose, cheeks and forehead and considering we're not supposed to be touching our faces, this is a nightmare. Anyway after a strange but successful mission I spent the rest of the day at home with the family. I have become more mindful that this has been a good opportunity to catch up on some much needed baby photographs too!
On the evening, I took another trip to Tesco, it was even stranger than the last time I went. Now they have what sounds like and emergency beep, followed by an announcement informing shoppers that they may only buy 2/3 of any item. This plays on a loop the entire time that I'm in there and they're asking consumers to queue well away from the checkouts now. It all feels a little 'Handmaid's Tale'...
Today we began the first of our home based e-learning sessions with the boys. Dannielle decided to teach the boys about the lifecycle of a Sunflower. They then made observation diaries and planted their own seeds. Who will grow the biggest Sunflower? Watch this space!
Dannielle and Eden spent the early part of the morning getting some homework completed. Eden seemed to enjoy this (and I think Dannielle did too a bit!). Zephyr and myself watched the virtual tour of Chester Zoo, which was actually pretty good. After a bit of playtime we all took a wander round the football field next to us. There were quite a few people around but we managed to keep to ourselves. There was one kid with a football watching us play and I could tell he wanted to come and play with my boys, he knew to keep away though. How sad.
When we got back, I had missed a FaceTime call from my parents, I called them back and we had a good chat. It's technologies like this that will really help to keep the world going at the moment.
So, week one down, an unknown quantity remaining...but quite a lot by the look of it. I'll be updating this blog weekly, let me know what you think though in the comments below.
I am planning to turn this work into a zine or a photo book once this awful situation has passed, with any/all profits going straight to the NHS.
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