The ever-chilled Skiing With Demons, Chris Tomlinson on lockdown in the UK is now facing the Fridge of Life and assessing his own sell-by date during his mid-to-late life coronavirus crisis...
Are you spending too much time in front of the fridge? Are you drinking too much furloughed Merlot? Are the aliens in your house still claiming to be your family? While choosing your next snack, are you regretting some of the life choices you made that led you to that particular fridge? Are you considering eating that out-of-date chicken? Even though time is precious, does it appear to be your enemy? Don’t worry, you’re not losing it, you’re simply having a C-19 induced life crisis.
The rest of us are fighting boredom, obesity and alcoholism
While keyworkers are fighting the real corona crisis the rest of us are fighting boredom, obesity and alcoholism - while the curve flattens, we fatten and some of us are going a little crazy. Unfortunately, with the drinking and eating comes the thinking: the fact that you’re stuck at home means that whatever you did for a living before, was clearly not that important to humanity. Then your living room suddenly becomes an existential prison.
This isn’t my first custodial sentence – I’ve done ‘time’ in front of the fridge before. Once, between jobs, I was forced to take nine months of gardening leave. More accurately, it was after my last actual job and before becoming a ski bum. I had then, as most of us do now, too much unproductive time on my hands.
What we will do differently once the pandemic is over
The corona crisis most of us face, and we are the lucky ones, is not being able to plan; to further a career, move home, organise events (weddings etc.) and importantly plan holidays. When life is on hold, all we can do is make a general resolve about what we will do differently once the pandemic is over.
After nine months of not working, and a lot of staring into a fridge, I decided I didn’t actually want to work anymore. I couched it slightly differently: my endeavours wouldn’t be focused on financial reward. Others couched it as 'idleness'. I changed my life and now I stand in front of a different fridge - although, to be fair, it contains many of the same contents.
Looking for divine inspiration
This time, I’m sharing the fridge with other life forms. Two millennials and a Labrador can frequently be seen in front of our domestic altar, looking for divine inspiration. Unfortunately, the dog can’t open the fridge so his interest in it must be vicarious. Although, I’m convinced yesterday he telepathically suggested I 'combine the leftover anchovies with the broccoli and serve them on a bed of pasta?'
Each fridge worshipper is having a slightly different corona crisis. Not only have the millennials had their future put on hold, but their life has seemingly regressed. Once again, they are standing in front of their childhood fridge - only now, they have facial hair and drink beer not milk.
Who knows how many summers I have left in my legs
Being a tail end Baby Boomer, my corona crisis is about the waste of a precious summer. Assuming C-19 doesn’t get me, who knows how many summers I have left in my legs to ascend and descend my bucket list of mountains? Lockdown has made me acutely aware of my own mortality – I’m staring into the Fridge of Life wondering how best to combine the remaining contents.
What all members of the household have now got in common is a newly found interest in food shopping. The planning of family meal for the week (to have between the snacks) now has multi-generational input. The procurement of ingredients has become so painful (and dangerous) that running down to the local shops for a missing spice, is no longer an option – unless of course you’ve run out of Parmesan or vodka. Never before have so many been so interested in groceries.
I’m worried that the Lakes will be flooded with staycation tourists
Now the fridge door is opened more often than the front door, I have found myself worrying about many things, not least the physical and mental health of my wife – an NHS hero. Her life will be the last in our family to return to normal. Once lockdown lifts, I’m worried that the Lakes will be flooded with staycation tourists and how ski resorts will function next winter. I’m also seriously worried about the durability of the fridge door hinges.
Now we are all living from meal to meal, I wonder how many of my generation stand in front of their fridge planning a mid-to-late life crisis. How many will decide do a season in the Alps or open a yoga retreat in Abergavenny? If you too are staring into the fridge of life, my only advice is don’t make any rash decisions - lay off the Cabernet tedium and bin that out-of-date chicken. It’s been a long sentence, but hopefully we’ll all soon be released from our existential prisons.
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