11 ways our world has changed during 12 months of lockdowns

Tiger King Joe Exotic poses with a tiger

Tiger King Joe Exotic with one of the animals from his zoo - Credit: Netflix

The last year has been defined by Covid-19 which has affected nearly every aspect of our everyday lives, from work and school to our everyday activities.

While we will never lose sight of the fact that this is a serious virus exacting a tragic toll and we must continue to do everything in our power to help contain the spread, after a year of restrictions, we decided to look at some of the more light-hearted ways that our world has changed during the last 12 months.

Coronavirus as seen under a microscope

A close-up of the coronavirus - Credit: Pixabay

1. We have a new vocabulary

If you’d said to any of us 12 months ago that we’d need to employ social distancing in order to flatten the curve and lower the R number, we’d have stared blankly at you and asked you to repeat what you’d said in English. Now we’re living with the new normal in these unprecedented times as we get to grips with self-isolatinglockdowns and supporting key workers. We collectively tut at covidiots that ignore public health advice, move physical celebrations to covideo parties online, talk endlessly about covexit lockdown exit strategies and the concept of Blursday (because every day is exactly the same as the last). We doom scroll through the news online as we WFH (work from home) before our next virtual quaranteam meeting. The term Covid-19 was first recorded on February 11 while the year also gave us the concept of superspreaders, furlough, antibody tests, contact tracing, herd immunity, incubation periods, PPE, shielding, track and trace and Zoom (see below). No wonder that Oxford Dictionaries expanded its ‘word of the year’ to encompass several ‘Words of an Unprecedented Year’.

2. We all turned to Zoom (other cloud-based video communication apps are available)

Once a fairly obscure platform used by people in business, Zoom became a lifeline to those stranded at home and missing the people they didn’t live with. Even the technologically challenged seemed to master the art of video-calling and we were introduced to the ‘hilarious backdrop’, everyone talking over each other, ‘Zoombombing’ when your partner/children/dog wander into shot, people not muting when they REALLY should, people wearing pajamas for meetings and inevitably, Zoom fatigue. It swiftly became obvious that the best thing about meeting up with people in person was not having to look at your own face while you did it.

A hammer next to some bent nails hammered into wood

Hands up if you tried your hand at DIY during lockdown? Hands down if you should have left it to experts - Credit: Pixabay

3. We became Jack/Jacquelines of all trades (and masters/mistresses of none)

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Necessity, as they say, is the mother of invention. During the past 12 months we have had to dig deep to take on a number of roles that we very possibly weren’t prepared for, didn’t want, weren’t very good at and never want to do again. Without access to a trained hairdresser during our months in lockdown, many of us took matters (sometimes very unwisely) into our own hands with scissors, razors, clippers and hair dye. Hero parents became teachers, everyone became someone’s therapist, we’ve all became chefs, entertainers, carers, physicians, beauticians, gardeners and DIYers. Nearly all of the above have made us realise how much we miss the professionals.

4. TV saved the day

With millions of us forced to stay at home with limited powers of conversation (“what did you do today” “The same as yesterday. You?” “Yes, the same as yesterday too. What’s for tea?”) TV swiftly became one of our few avenues for entertainment. It wasn’t just about watching a programme, it was about creating a virtual ‘water cooler moment’ the next day to recreate a sense of community. That’s my excuse, anyway.

We all watched Normal People – a tedious study of teen angst a bit like a beautifully-shot, nicely-acted edition of Father Ted kicked through Skins – the Prime Minister’s Statements (depressing), the address by Her Majesty the Queen (rousing), Bridgerton (saucy) and Tiger King (because nothing beats existential dread like watching a long-running feud between a satin blouse-wearing, polygamous country and western star with a zoo full of exotic cats and an animal rights activist who he believes fed her former husband to a tiger).

A woman wearing a backpack on a walk in the woods

We've all walked a lot more over the past 12 months - Credit: Pixabay

5. We suddenly started to walk everywhere

With our options limited to ‘being indoors’, suddenly our state-sanctioned Walk of the Day became one of life’s highlights. Even if you went on the same walk every day, even if it was raining, even if next door was a ‘quarantine shamer’ who counted putting the bins out as exercise, even if the dog begged us to stay indoors.

Sourdough loaves

Did your lockdown sourdough look like this? No, mine neither - Credit: Pixabay

6. We jumped on endless trend bandwagons

Banana bread. That life hack about how to close a cereal box properly. Learning to sew our own face masks. Virtual pub quizzes. The TikTok baked feta pasta recipe. Bread became the baked-good hero of lockdown, even if dentists were in short supply and our teeth couldn’t break through those tough sourdough crusts without shattering to dust. On the subject of bread…keeping a sourdough starter alive is like having a newborn, other than you can’t leave your newborn in the fridge for the weekend while you have a socially-distanced self-catering weekend away. That said, baking bread not only filled HOURS of time, it also helped us rehearse for a post-apocalyptic world where we’d be required to be self-sufficient in order to survive. And this leads us nicely to the next point, as finding flour and yeast was as easy as sourcing anti-bacterial hand-wash on March 22 2020.

A child's shopping trolley filled with toilet rolls

Do you remember the great trolley dash for toilet roll of 2020? - Credit: Pixabay

8. There were some bizarre product shortages

It started with toilet roll, pasta and hand sanitiser, moved on to the aforementioned yeast and flour and then to dumbbells, exercise bikes, treadmills, hot tubs, barbecues, fairy lights and home hair-dye kits. Inflatable swimming pools became must-have items during a spell of distinctly un-British brilliant weather, jigsaw puzzles passed hands on the black market, compost and seeds became rarer than hen’s teeth and embroidery kits sold out in minutes. Other desirables included garden furniture, trampolines and a coveted home delivery slot from your supermarket of choice. Or any supermarket, frankly – beggars cannot be choosers.

A dish with a cooked lasagne in it topped with tomato and basil

We all started cooking more in lockdown - we didn't really have much choice - Credit: Pixabay

9. All we could think about was food

Food became EVERYTHING in lockdown. It gave structure to the day, it made shopping day more exciting than a night out, we could spend time experimenting in the kitchen, we could dream about the meals out we’d have when we were allowed and takeaways became the highlight of any week or month. We greedily copied people’s recipes online and asked other people what they were eating.

A man's hand holds a copy of a sausage and egg McMuffin

Chef Richard Hughes has been teaching cookery for years - but it took making a famous fast food burger to put him on the Facebook map - Credit: Richard Hughes

My husband runs the UK Cookery School of the Year but it took him recreating a fast food giant's sausage, egg and muffin breakfast bun online during Lockdown 1.0 for him to truly crack the Facebook crowd. 

Hands being washed under a tap

The year we all learned how to wash our hands - Credit: Pixabay

10. We learned that the fall of civilization did not involve zombies

It actually involved having to set up a home office in the same room your children were doing PE with Joe Wicks in and singing happy birthday to yourself twice as you washed your hands while simultaneously trying to think of another form of self-improvement to fail at.

A long-haired young woman blows out candles on a birthday cake

Coronavirus has shone a light on the tradition of spitting on cake before you give it to relatives - Credit: Pixabay

11. And finally…

Let’s wrap this up. The lessons we have learnt this year are manifold: blowing your germs over a piece of food and handing it to your loved ones was never a good idea even if it’s your birthday, the utter joy of loungewear, masks aren’t as bad as we thought they’d be, we’ve been washing our hands incorrectly for years, the British ability to queue has stood us in good stead, small businesses have got our back, beige should be recognised as a food group, people are both kinder and more awful than we thought, we took too much for granted, we are very jealous of people who have dogs, we really, really, really miss the people we haven’t been able to be close to for a year and we can’t wait to see them again and finally - we have so much to be grateful for. What a year. What a learning curve. Let's never do it again.