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The Timelines They Are A-Changing

Updated: Apr 16, 2020

By Pauline Eyre.

Illustration by Jimmy Slim.

Wash your hands! Don’t go outside! Look at the empty shelves!

My friend’s a doctor... Don’t panic buy! Wash hands for 20 seconds!

You’re not taking this seriously! Wear a mask! Wash them for 40 seconds!

…a year away from a vaccine… Shop for your neighbours! People are all dickheads!

My cousin’s a nurse… Selfish stockpiling bastards! Be kinder!

Old people should know better! Your job’s not essential! My next door neighbour’s postman’s son knows someone who snogged a virologist who said…

Can we all… please… just… stop?

My timelines are terrible for my mental health. Everyone’s so judgmental. (I fully realise I’m judging them for that). But it’s so depressing. Everyone has an opinion, especially about what everyone else should be doing. Half of it’s unfounded, a quarter is made up, a third is fake news and four-fifths is based on hearsay. Which only leaves the other 14% that’s actually true. You know what I mean?

I don’t know about you, but I bloody hate being told what to do. This article isn’t going to do that. I’m not an expert in any of this. I’m just someone who’s frightened, like you are. Like they are. Yes, them. Those bloody panic buyers, those stupid kids, those asthmatics who dare to be outside…

This article isn’t even about you. It’s about me. (I’m a comedian, of course it is!) It’s about what’s working for me. You do what works for you. But if any of this helps… I want you to credit me with ALL the wisdom and love me forever. And when all this is over, come to my gigs…

  1. I’ve got a post-it note by my laptop. It says “when you feel sad, stop scrolling”. There’s that moment when it starts to change, isn’t there? A cloud descends. I try and stop then.

  2. I’ve been stupidly busy. Most of my work just evaporated last week. But one job, teaching antenatal courses, has moved online. I’ve had to retrain, set up Zoom & WhatsApp groups and re-plan everything. It’s been manic but I’m busy. That’s helped.

  3. On Mothers’ Day, I stopped. Couldn’t see my daughter, couldn’t see my mother. I wept and wept. It was horrible and painful and cathartic. I hated it. It did me good.

  4. I had one task on Mothers’ Day: to write this piece. And that was the day I crashed. I cried into my scarf, so I wouldn’t waste tissues, but I got it done. I’m proud of that.

  5. Now I’m trying to find a better balance. Busy, but not manic. Positive where I can be but stopping for a cry when I need to.

  6. Looking for the positive in EVERYTHING. That bloke with 4 packs of loo roll? Maybe he’s shopping for his neighbours. That plonker with the facemask? Perhaps she’s caring for an elderly parent but needed to go out for milk.

  7. Facebook said it was Lorna’s birthday. I love Lorna, but I haven’t seen her since she moved away. I DM’d her. Reminisced about that clothes swap party, playing Pissed Twister in the garden, had a lovely chat. Felt warm and buzzy.

  8. All that aggression, all that judgement, it’s all about fear. People are scared, so they’re lashing out at others. It’s exhausting and upsetting, and I don’t have to engage with it. I will praise and I will love and I will cry when I need to.

And to the sweet, shy, Turkish man in the corner shop, I’m sorry. I’m sorry for crying when you had tampons in stock, after I’d tried 3 other places. I’m sorry for claiming you had no idea how grateful I was. But I’m not sorry for adding 2 big bars of Dairy Milk to my order. I was only boosting your profits and being kind.

Take care. We’ll get through this.

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