-1. To quote the adorable but ultimately villainous strawberry-scented Lots-o'-Huggin' from Toy Story Three, ‘First thing you need to know about me? I’m a hugger.’ I miss hugging. Most of my friends are huggers. On the day we’re told that hugging is back on the agenda, I shall be driving round to all my friends to deliver the hugs of their lives. I may even offer hugs to random strangers I meet along the way. You have been warned.
2. I have fully embraced middle age – gardening, going for daily walks in nature, watching anything hosted by Mary Berry – I’m lapping it up without apology these days. I am lucky enough to have a garden and being able to spend time growing plants from seed and transplanting them into that space is wonderful. Of course I have to endure the mocking from my teenage children as I encourage them to smell another rose or admire the five tiny runner beans I’ve managed to grow but I know Monty Don’s proud of me and that’s all that matters.
3. We all had a lockdown food addiction, didn’t we? For some people it was homemade sourdough bread. My husband spent hours forensically measuring, frowning at and eventually discarding a mixture that smelt worse than a fifteen year boy’s armpit after a Joe Wicks’ workout. For me, I couldn’t get through the week without coleslaw. Don’t judge me. It goes with everything and is delicious. I have also developed a mild to serious addiction to crumpets and am willing to become the face of Warburtons in return for a weekly home delivery.
4. We all had to try something new. Whether it be Mandarin, knitting with dog hair or online yoga (we think of Adriene Mischler as one of the family now), it was a good opportunity to launch a new hobby. I dabbled with Gareth Malone’s choir for a bit and am still refreshing my knowledge of German on Duo Lingo (127 day streak and counting. Oh yeah.)
5. I will never take going to the theatre, football matches or parties for granted again. I didn’t leave the house much before the pandemic due to the fact that I am a solitary writer type but I loved it when I did. And now I’d quite like to go and watch the greatest team in the football league (Charlton Athletic in case you’re wondering) play a match or go to see a play with my teenage daughter or rub shoulders with some lovely book people at a fancy soiree. It’ll come back eventually and when it does I promise not to moan if my team lose or because I’ve got blisters from wearing my new shoes (which I will buy the second I get my first party invite).6. Writing is my sanctuary. Lockdown had a lot of emotional phases, didn’t it? Like many other people, I was terrified at first. I felt helpless and a little bit hopeless. I couldn’t concentrate on reading books and certainly couldn’t write. However, once we got into our Lockdown routine with my husband and the kids at home, I was able to switch off from the world and start to write again. Sadly, my ninety-year-old Dad died during this time and I found that writing offered me a certain comfort. My dad always loved books and writing so I felt as if he was sitting on my shoulder, cheering his encouragement as I worked.
7. ‘What’s up with the effing Wi-Fi?’ was the battle cry of our house during Lockdown as another Teams meeting ended without warning or a Zoom call started to sound like it was happening underwater. Technology was our saviour and our nemesis. I now understand that there is nothing that can send me into a steaming red-hot rage more quickly than the printer in my writing room. And it knows it. I swear the only way I can get it to work is if I pretend not to care about the thing I’m printing. Never make eye contact with your printer. That’s my advice. And yes, it probably is time I left the house for my daily walk. There’s a new rose in the garden I need to sniff.