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Lockdown brain – the effects of living in lockdown

Do you ever walk into a room only to wonder why on earth you are there, which forces you to retrace your footsteps, sit down, and then remember what it was you wanted in the first place? Or put the washing in the machine but then forget to add the detergent?

I’ve experienced a few of these moments over the years but, with three children under eight, I’ve always blamed ‘baby brain’. However, given my youngest is three I’m clutching at straws here.

My mum does similar things and refers to them as senior moments, but I’m hoping that as I’m in my late 30s, ok early 40s, I’m hoping I’m not quite in that category just yet.

I’ve always had these ‘situations’. Pre-lockdown, I asked the waiter at 1pm if they were still serving the all-day breakfast, which resulted in a few badly stifled sniggers until I realised my error. And my television debut was when I lived in London and put the bin bags out in my pyjamas only to be greeted with a broadcast news team covering a murder in the area.

All day breakfast anyone...

Yet, it seems these moments have intensified in lockdown, which is why I am renaming the phenomenon ‘lockdown brain’. And, following further investigation, it appears it’s not just me who has experienced it. These are my favourites;

In at number 10…

10 Business consultant here at WillisPalmer, Steve, made a scrummy lunch of cheese on toast, only to forget to toast one side of his bread. Mary Berry would not be impressed by his soggy bottom!

9 One of our case managers, Fay, spent 20 minutes looking for her phone which was on silent… only to realise it was on charge the whole time. I thought Bob Hoskins said it was good to talk?

8 My mum, a very good cook and former teacher, decided to try a new recipe for a frittata which was going well until she lifted it out of the oven burning her hand so she sent it flying across the kitchen towards my unsuspecting dad! The recipe has gone down in history as ‘low flying frittata’.

7 Fay had another moment when she put her coffee in her cup and went to get the milk from the fridge and pour in the water, only to realise her coffee mug was upside down.

6 Drinks seem to be causing mayhem and not as in five pints of Stella on a Friday night with pubs being closed. My friend Carly made herself a cup of tea, added the milk and went to return the milk to the fridge. She came back to her tea to see the milk on the side and the drink nowhere in sight. Somewhat confuddled, Carly realised she had put her drink in the fridge and left the milk out!

5 In at number five is me I’m afraid. I have new neighbours and saw that the man was in his garden doing some jobs. We have a fence between us but there is a slight gap and he was working near the gap so I approached it saying “Hi, it’s your neighbour, hello, hi can you hear me? I just wanted to say hello, er hello, are you there? Hi, it’s Clare here, I’m your next door neighbour, hello, hi, err hello *getting louder* hi I just wanted to say if the kids are ever too loud.. hello?”
It turns out he was wearing ear phones playing music which the kids knew as they were on the trampoline and could see him but failed to tell me leaving their mother looking a plonker!!

4 My friend Lisa made courgette and prawn linguine this week for dinner and added the chilli flakes as per the recipe. Only upon eating she realised she must have already added the required amount and had doubled it. Her poor children were literally sweating at the dinner table until it had to be abandoned and replaced with chocolate cornflake cakes for dinner - anyone else thinking the kids might have been involved in the double dosage of chilli flakes? It takes me back to when I lived in London when my flat mate made me a chilli which was so hot it probably savaged my taste buds forever. We unfortunately had to abandon it and it was duly thrown away. At that time the local foxes would raid anything from the bins but even they gave this chilli a wide berth.

3 I recently got some shopping in and half was put away, half was on the side ready to go away while I sorted the children’s tea. Only when I came to dish up their dinner, I ended up drizzling baby wash rather than the mayonnaise next to it all over the kids’ tea. Epic fail. I know my parents used to threaten to wash my mouth with soap and water, but I nearly inadvertently did!

2. The bosses doesn’t escape this list. I’ve been reliably informed that on driving to work recently, our Chief Executive Mark was driving on a dual carriageway and tried to overtake another vehicle but just did not accelerate enough; like he’d forgotten how to drive! Meanwhile, our managing director Sarah Stowe forgot how to use public transport when she ventured on a bus this week for the first time in 14 weeks to visit her mum. Sarah’s iPhone wouldn’t do face recognition when she tried to pay because of her face mask, and the bus driver looked at her witheringly as she held her phone under the scanner to pay as she had failed to tell him where she was going so he couldn’t produce the fare!! Lockdown brain gets to us all it seems…

1. My favourite. My friend Jackie was on her way to work and reversed from her driveway into her husband’s car. Hearing the loud bang, Jackie thought ‘oh dear sounds like someone has had a crash, not a good morning for them’ and drove off to work without realising she was the perpetrator.

I can only assume that once lockdown is lifted a sense of normality can resume and our brains will function a little more reliably. However, given when my German teacher asked me what I wanted to do when I left school and I said proudly: “I want to be a bisexual secretary” (“I think you mean bilingual,” the teacher responded) – I don’t hold out too much hope for any sort of normality here.

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