IN THE BEGINNING (DAYS 1–9)
COVID-19 is causing carnage —
medically & economically.
The UK’s just gone into lockdown.
As has my job — F*RL**GH*D!
“What are you going to do?”.
Release the Furlough Diaries of course.
Hotly anticipated daily entries*.
To document what I did.
To encourage myself to do things of significance.
To reflect on the insignificance of those things.
In the grand scheme of things…
This might be fun.
Or boring as sh*t.
*…that originally started out as Instagram Stories.
Wednesday 1st April 2020
Day 1. First official day. A sense of freedom ironically intermixed with the paralysis of choice: where the f*rl**gh to begin? A plan: things I’d like to do/could do/should do. Followed closely by an unplanned WhatsApp video call with Mum. Then another with the brother-in-law. And then a final, reluctantly-virtual wedding venue show-round to score a hat-trick of daily WhatsApp video. Dreamt up Farlough: a pretty simple but ambitious idea I had of replacing one working day with a 100 mile ride (or ‘century’) instead. Exercise restrictions are currently “one piece of daily activity only” so a long but continuous ride should be fine? Perhaps I’ll wait it out a little… Applied for a mortgage holiday. Took part in a virtual quiz with colleagues (Zoom drawing an abrupt end to my unintentional commitment to WhatsApp). Completed the day with some SICK (the vomit-inducing kinda variety) branding for Furlough Diaries, inspired by pop-cult phenomenon Tiger King. Feeling purposeful.
922k/30k confirmed cases (global/UK)
46k/2.4k deaths (global/UK)
Thursday 2nd April 2020
Day 2. Sticking to my thrilling, pre-work morning ritual: up at 7am; breakfast; bath; and dressed, ready to go by 8am. Explored the best way of hosting these diary entries digitally (Medium until it pushed me to my limit so Instagram Stories it is!). Tinkered some more with the branding (proper SICK now). Shared my screen via Google Hangouts with Mum (the video platform polygamy is shameful, I know). We worked together for a couple of hours (to turn her microphone on) on a new-ish business venture. Had a solid lunch after exchanging some eggs for compost (unrelated — lunch was neither eggs nor compost). And also spoke to a mate through a closed window: he’s a farrier and was passing after a trip to A&E to remove a shard of hammer that lodged itself in his head. He got the customary middle finger regardless. Feeling productive.
963k/34k confirmed cases (global/UK)
49k/2.9k deaths (global/UK)
Friday 3rd April 2020
Day 3. A pretty disparate day if I’m honest. Researched (extensively) a low-cost home cinema setup — £80 Amazin! Spread lawn feed all over the garden and got my bike out to jump a large lumpy lump in a nearby field that I’d been eyeing up for ages. It’s now 5:32pm and I’ve just ordered tonight’s dinner from a local pub. Never before have I been nervous for a takeaway: to avoid contact with others, we have a very strict collection window and need to somehow squeeze in fetching our final Click & Collect food shop shortly beforehand (NB f*ck knows how we’ll feed ourselves going forward because everything’s now booked online and I’m a millennial that craaaves digital experiences)! Group family FaceTime (scandalous!) this evening which is dangerous at best and relationship-ending at worst. Will probably finish Jaws afterwards. It’s one of approximately ten absolutely classic films I have yet tret* my eyeballs to. Feeling transient.
1m/39k confirmed cases (global/UK)
55k/3.6k deaths (global/UK)
*Tret = the Somerset past participle of treated e.g. he tret her to a cider.
Monday 6th April 2020
Day 4. I write today’s entry from the comfort of my budget hammock. Bar kickstarting some unnecessarily transparent nonsense through means of sharing Furlough Diaries via Instagram Stories, oh and watching a game of BIKE on EMBN’s YouTube channel, today has been entirely dedicated to the garden: cleaning the BBQ; cutting the grass; strimming and de-weeding etc. Admittedly, a handful of jobs that — when I see someone else doing — I would usually (often vocally) brand as pointless, especially given the fact that it will all look the way it did pre-TLC next weekend anyway. Strimming had me thinking: what to do with the grass growing upon my very head?! Most have taken the plunge and had it shaved. I may just ride the wave… On the topic of waves — Jaws. WTF. I think I liked it. Enjoyed the behind-the-scenes on YouTube more. Pulp Fiction tonight. Feeling Monty Don.
1.3m/48k confirmed cases (global/UK)
71k/4.9k deaths (global/UK)
Tuesday 7th April 2020
Day 5. I write today’s entry from the discomfort of my kitchen. COVID-19 has brought about drastic change for us all, and whilst once supportive of small businesses successful in adapting, right now I can’t help but feel a little disgruntled. My fiancé is currently completing a virtual yoga session and there’s no way out of the kitchen for me without inadvertently taking part in the very session I’ve been trying to avoid for approximately three years. It wouldn’t be so bad if A. I wasn’t ‘cooking’ a convenient meal this evening that will only keep me occupied for about 15 minutes or B. I had a chair to sit on for the next 45. Today? A slow-news day. I did the Three Peaks Challenge (Somerset edition) on my bike and feared for my life as gurt cattle chased me whilst I pedalled my nuts off to get away. They were either immensely territorial or mistook me for a food-bearing farmer. Feeling rattled by the cattle.
1.4m/56k confirmed cases (global/UK)
78k/6.2k deaths (global/UK)
Wednesday 8th April 2020
Day 6. Already questioning if I can keep this nonsense up. Pretty sure I’m on the cusp of graduating with a First-Class Honours degree in Young Age Pensioner studies… Invested in Expedia Group (car rentals and hotels), Live Nation Entertainment (ticketmaster) and Yum! Brands (KFC, Pizza Hut etc.) stock. All rock-bottom share prices thanks to simply belonging to sectors firmly shafted by COVID — travel, entertainment and retail. Right now, I don’t really have the money to invest. So if I’m super lucky (fingers crossed), I’ll make approximately £19 after fees. Disrupted travel reminds me, I also looked into ‘adjusting’ the holiday we had booked next month to Majorca. That £19 can go towards a pint at the airport. Feeling 27 going on 72.
1.5m/61k confirmed cases (global/UK)
85k/7.1k deaths (global/UK)
Thursday 9th April 2020
Day 7. Started the day by sharing some ‘advice’ over email with someone interested in a career in brand/marketing strategy. Then switched up the method of communications and spent most of the morning on the phone (mixing it up, keeping it fresh). Sunbathed for a bit but was soon overcome with guilt: guilt for lying around whilst others continue to work/keep us rolling/keep us alive. So I got up and smashed a bagel oozing with melted cheese for lunch (it felt marginally more productive). And then slowly cooked my back under the big yellow thing in the sky whilst I hand-sawed a sh*t-tonne (official metric) of kindly donated logs. I say logs, they were more like mini trees in reality. I think my puny and pasty left bicep may explode. Feeling the heat.
1.5m/61.5k confirmed cases (global/UK)
90k/7.1k deaths (global/UK)
Tuesday 14th April 2020
Day 8. ‘Days blurring into one’ has never been truer than today: a furloughed ‘worker’ returning to furlough post bank holiday weekend. Combined with fatigue from yesterday’s 42 mile hallucinogenic ride, I’m not sure what’s reality any more. As I write this, I’m soaking down a beer and sinking up the sun. Today I re-found out how sh*t Facebook’s ad platform is. Had a throwback game of Call of Duty with the brother-in-law and laughed so hard at our impressively worryingly high-pitched screams (I don’t know where they come from but I do know that even Aled Jones would be jealous). Called Mum and then looked into how you actually get married. Turns out you book someone in the area up to two years in advance but must ‘give notice’ to your local registration office. Just make sure that that notice is no later than 28 days — but no earlier than one year — before your wedding. Simples? Absolutely whiffs of legacy/inertia to me! Feeling most peculiar.
1.9m/95k confirmed cases (global/UK)
123k/12.1k deaths (global/UK)
Wednesday 15th April 2020
Day 9. A momentous moment this morning. Bit the bullet and bought the cheapest hair clippers known to Amazon. Probably not a wise move given their function but, in light of the circumstances, I’m willing to risk my ears. Found myself down a minor YouTube rabbit hole on shipping containers but managed to clamber out of that thanks to the overwhelmingly exciting prospect of clearing out the porch (which had inadvertently accepted the position of ‘dumping ground’). Fitted my fiancé’s saddle to my commuter bike with the intention of testing whether Farlough is actually possible from my arse’s perspective (it certainly wouldn’t be with my saddle, that’s for sure). Frustratingly, the seat clamp broke in the process so no immediate testing — maybe, just maybe, it’s a sign… Feeling thwarted.
2.0m/99k confirmed cases (global/UK)
131k/12.9k deaths (global/UK)
Friday 29th May 2020
Day 39. This is it: my final entry ever (even if I am re-furloughed, which is entirely possible given that my return could just be my employer’s choice to end the daily updates). I figured a TL;DR would work best. In the Beginning (Days 1-9): Furlough Diaries in all its ugly glory conceived. Kickstarted an onslaught of support for Mum/an array of takeaway for us. And a scattering of sun-soaking throughout. In the Middle (Days 10-30): one careful quarantine cut. Quarantime & Farlough initiatives. And a habit of hammock-hanging throughout. In the End (Days 31-39): book reading and podcast listening aplenty. A day at the beach. And a bunch of BBQ-blazes throughout. It’s been fun, fruitful and fast. Feeling unsure if this is the end or just…*
5.9m/272.6k confirmed cases (global/UK)
363k/38.2k deaths (global/UK)
*The beginning. Turns out it was. I ended up pulling my finger out and turned what were just Instagram Stories into an actual thing**.
**The actual thing is this by the way.