Loo roll, libation, and self isolation

I think most of us, women, men, and children alike, are hitting that point in lockdown where dates and time no longer have meaning and we’re waking up each day like Robin Williams after he’s emerged from Jumanji after 25 years; hairy, perplexed, and asking what year it is. Since the initial surge of fear and adrenaline that came with MacDonalds closing, boredom and agitation have now set in, and those previous ear-splitting alarm bells are now a deafened gong, gong, gong in the background of your subconscious, like Chinese torture. One well-intentioned game of Monopoly and suddenly Dad’s chasing the family around the hedge maze in the back yard with an axe. Problem is it’s not winter, which means there’s no way to stop him by having him conveniently freeze to death. So, in an effort to avoid ‘The Shining: Summer Edition’, here’s some dos and don’ts for self-isolating.



  • Don’t watch Pandemic or Contagion. If you’re finding this whole ordeal is starting to get to you a bit, don’t watch films that will exacerbate your anxiety. It’d be like Ron Weasley, who J.K. Rowling plagued with crippling arachnophobia, saying ‘you know what, I’m going to buy a tarantula’. Be kind to yourself. Watch Bambi instead. Actually, watch something where the mum isn’t shot. Finding Nemo. Wait, his mum gets eaten by a pike. Jeeze, Disney. Might as well cut out the middleman and go straight to Sophie’s Choice.

  • Stop bulk-buying loo roll and selling it on eBay for a fiver. Put it to ‘bid mode’ first and see how much you can get for it. People will pay loads more when they’re desperate.

  • Don’t over listen to ‘I’ll Never Walk Alone’. Swap it for ‘We’re all in this together’ from High School Musical. It’s equally apt and less tear-inducing.

  • When out walking, don’t be offended if someone veers 400m into traffic to avoid passing you. They have your best interests at heart. Or they hate you past the point of no return, in which case there’s no point in letting it bother you.

  • When home-schooling, avoid phrases like ‘How did I produce a human so dumb? I don’t understand what you can’t understand?!’ And ‘ I hate you, you’re not my real Mum!’ by using exercise books or YouTube tutorials. Joe Wicks is doing PE lessons for kids, Group C on Facebook is fab for teaching ideas, Carol Vorderman is doing maths tutorials, Oti Mabuse is giving dance classes. There’s a Mary’s Poppins’ bags worth of home-school material at your fingertips, and that’s without all the fantastic support online the Island’s schools are providing. For some non-screen downtime, David Walliams is treating people to free audiobooks of his stories.

  • Don’t watch daytime TV if you’re close to the edge.

  • Don’t panic eat your pets. We’re a long way from food shortages. Fatten them up first.



  • Listen to the Guardian of the Galaxy soundtrack Volumes 1 and 2. I know ‘I’ll never Walk Alone’ has a lovely sentiment to it but it’s no Pina Colada song. Better yet, listen to the opening song of Disney’s Tangled. Rapunzel knows all about self-isolation and dishes out some great tips in an irritatingly cheery fashion.

  • Drugs not Hugs. Alcohol is now safer than embracing. I recommend working your way though ‘Free the Tipple – Kickass Cocktails Inspired by Iconic Women’. Bottoms up.

  • Read. Hell, join an online book club. My Shared Shelf is a lovely one. HELL, start YOUR OWN online book club. The digital world is your oyster. Be inclusive, get older people involved who may not be online. Do it via text or the phone, pick a book then chat about it. Simple. I’m throwing Caitlin Moran’s How to be Famous into the ring.

  • Meditate. Apparently it’s excellent for mental health. Everytime I’ve tried it I’ve fallen asleep, which I think means it’s working. Or I could have mild narcolepsy. It’s an enjoyable experience either way.

  • Stretch. I always skip out on stretching because I’m lazy but I always feel so much better when I do make time for it. Try out a spot of yoga. 30 Days with Adriene on YouTube is fab for beginner yogateers. Yogerers? Yogites? People who haven’t done yoga before. And legendary, local Pilates instructor Mo Sherring is doing short audio sessions, which can be found on the Manx Radio Sports page.

  • Keep calling people. Get some threesomes on the go – that’s what Nan calls it when I Facetime multiple people at once. Pick up the phone and give someone a ring. Don’t go mad. You don’t have to think ‘the world’s ending so I’d better call Uncle Trev’, a man so boring it makes me want to punch my own teeth out. Call loved ones you can’t see right now, call strangers in need of a comforting ear through local charities that have set up befriending services like Live at Home and the Southern Befrienders, and call the partners-in-crime that you can put the world to rights with, because the world needs to be put to rights right now. And call Nan; she needs to tell you about her next door neighbour Flo, who still owes her £1.30 from five weeks ago.

  • Appreciate the fact that not having to meet up with people you only say ‘yes’ to seeing out of politeness is practically a legal requirement now. ‘No Karen, I’m not coming to your baby shower. I’M SOCIAL DISTANCING. MWAHAHAHAHA’. It’s unlikely you’ll be able to use that excuse again in your lifetime. Relish in it.

  • Send letters to the loved ones you can’t see right now. It brings a different level of fulfillment for both parties.

  • Watch good films. Ones that act as balm for the soul. My top ones for this would be:

    Drama: Saving Mr Banks

    Comedy: Hunt for the Wilderpeople

    Sport: A League of Their Own / Remember the Titans / Eddie the Eagle

    Fantasy: The Lord of the Rings

    Romance: Love, Rosie

    Animated: Moana / The Emperors New Groove / Despicable Me

    Horror: The Cabin in the Woods

  • TV wise, The Vicar of Dibley is like a lovely, warm bowl of soup when you’re ill. Not that I’m ill, I was just clearing my throat, I SWEAR. TV wise; New GirlCommunityFlight of the Conchords, and The Office – the American one, sorry but the British one is just a bit TOO grim for now – are all good ‘switch off series’. Reality TV wise, go for Gogglebox. Also, the National Theatre and Royal Shakespeare Company are streaming shows online for FREE.  

  • Play games. Adapt them to the situation. Hide and Don’t Seek. Also known simply as Hide. Social distancing: Tick.

  • Support local businesses where you can. This is probably going to be the only time where you don’t have to feel guilty about ordering a takeaway. It’s the opposite in fact, you’ll be worthy of an MBE for helping the economy. The egg-heads at Afundi have created a free online takeaway platform practically overnight, out of the goodness of their own hearts, to help any and all Manx restaurants keep afloat in choppy water. Eatout.im will soon be meeting all your takeaway needs. So get ordering. Maybe avoid too many Indians though if you’re shitting it about loo roll.

  • Rest. This is a rare moment where you can actually be present. Plus, you don’t have to worry about FOMO anymore because pretty much everyone in the world is doing the same as you.

  • Learn something new. It’s daunting starting a new hobby, especially on your own. Now is the time to take something up without having to be self conscious about being a beginner. There are YouTube tutorials for practically everything. Baking, sports, magic, dogging, it’s all there. You can spark a passion, get confident in the comfort of your own home, then go out and smash it once everyone’s free from home arrest. Just avoid learning the violin. If you’re living with people and aren’t an immediate prodigy you only have yourself to blame when they club you to death with it, which will still sound nicer than your C chord.

  • Do odd jobs. Paint that wall you’ve been talking about painting for ages. Do that tiling you’ve been meaning to do for a while. Dust off that Emma Stone shrine. Cleanliness is next to Godliness. And it feels good to be godlike.

  • Give yourself a break from the news. And have a chat if your head starts to feel a bit like TV static. The folks at the Samaritans and Isle Listen are just two have always got your back.

  • Keep training. Fitness fanatics and sports lovers are stewing in pools of their own sweat right now, not from working out but from the stress that comes with not being able to. I’m a prime example. Now, the only time I use my netball dress is to wipe away the tears when I’m re-watching past games, while crying, eating Biscoff spread from the tub and shouting ‘I’m still here if you need’ at the screen. But there’s a whole gym at your fingertips, if you get creative. Chucking your sibling across the room for stealing your charger counts as considerable weight training. But if you’d like something a little less ‘We Need to Talk About Kevin’- inducing, both Impact Kickboxing Isle of Man and Paracise are doing live and recorded sessions every day on their Facebook pages. Both are for everyone; any age, any ability, and aim to keep us all motivated, our mental health fit and our belt buckles loose.

  • Donate to your local food bank. Pasta expands. After twenty-six days straight of Fusilli you’re going to be three stone heavier and regretting buying that 37th packet. Sharing is caring. And less fattening.

Finally, if you’re starting a jigsaw puzzle, make sure all the pieces are accounted for when you begin. In times like these, one missing piece at the finish line is just the sort of thing that’ll push someone over the edge and murder the whole family via asphyxiation by jigsaw pieces, only to then find that you were actually holding the missing piece the whole time and now have to the bury the bodies and start from scratch. Annoying.

Above all, try to be compassionate. Keep in mind those who are hit hardest. The ones who have lost people, who are alone, who have lost their jobs, who have kids at home to support and now teach. The ones on the frontline, doing everything they can, including coming out of retirement, to fight the good fight for us all. Help the vulnerable and the NHS where you can, even if that’s simply by staying home. Show appreciation to the organisations that are trying to ease the burden in these turbulent times, adapting their services to help people who can’t leave the house. Send words of support to your favourite local businesses that have had to shut down. A small sentence can go a long way. Find your ‘temporary normal’. People are putting up loads of awesomely creative ways to deal with self-isolation, which you can take inspiration from or are totally entitled in thinking ‘oh do one Sandra, we don’t all have a Von Trapp-like family that can belt out alternative lyrics to famous songs to match the current social climate at the drop of a infuriatingly charismatic hat’. Either way, don’t feel pressured by it. This is new territory. There’s no guidebook and, though this will end, we might as well adapt in the meantime to make the meantime more manageable. So, find your (for now) new routine at your own pace, and just do what works for you. And make the most of spending more time with your family if they’re self isolating with you. Because you have no other choice. It’s that or play passive aggressive tennis for a few weeks. Closing the cutlery draw just a little bit too hard in response to Mum’s passing comment ‘gin for breakfast again Rhian.’ Just think, after this, four days with the family at Christmas will be like a holiday in the Maldives. Lastly, it’s normal to worry in these unknown times. Many things are out of our control. So, focus on the things you can control. And try not to worry too much. Easier said than done, I know. But, in the words of Mark Rylance in Bridge of Spies – another one you could watch, if only to see Tom Hanks and take comfort in the fact that he both got and recovered from coronavirus – ‘would it help?’

But don’t let me tell you what to do, I can’t stand online preachers. Now, I must go and feed my rabbits some lard covered carrots and watch them eat. They’ll be ready any day now.

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