Will coronavirus force us all to start getting on? | Steve Canavan

Well, well, well, this has all happened a bit fast, hasn’t it?A fortnight ago I was at a concert with 50 others, sitting side by side, singing and enjoying ourselves.

Saturday, 28th March 2020, 12:00 am
Steve and his wife have had more arguments since lockdown than they have in their entire relationship

A week back I went on a lengthy walk with a friend in the hills and stopped at a pub for a meal on our way home.

Fast forward to this week and I’m locked in my house feeling a little like a convict, though I’m worse off than a convict in that I haven’t got my own cell but have to share it with a wife and two small children.

Never mind a strong immune system, you need a strong marriage to get through this current crisis. In which case, I’m in trouble.

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Because of this pesky coronavirus malarkey, Mrs C and I are having to do things we haven’t done in years, like have conversations.

I am working from home, which, when I was single and carefree, would have been blissful. I could have spent my days reading books while lying on the chaise longue in my satin pyjama bottoms.

But now, with a wife and two children aged one and three, I’m not sure I can think of anything worse than having to stay home.

Mrs C and I have had more arguments in the past four days than in the previous four years of marriage.

Working is incredibly tricky when you have kids running about. I have a little office in the house where my computer is. But it’s right next to the lounge. So I’ll hear my three-year-old Mary say, ‘where’s daddy?’ Mrs C will reply ‘he’s at work’, to which Mary – who’s cottoned on to the fact my car is parked outside each day – will say ‘no he’s not, he’s in here’ and promptly barges open the door and marches straight in.

My day job is as a university lecturer so Mary’s arrival – because she has impeccable timing – will generally happen just as I’m in the midst of delivering an online lecture to 50 students.

Suddenly, as I’m trying to look scholarly and discussing the best way to insert an inline hyperlink into a news story, a three-year-old will stomp into shot and shout in loud tones, ‘DADDY, I NEED A POO. NOW’. It’s most off-putting and possibly not something Ofsted would approve of.

One of the most irksome things about being at home is that I have to do more parenting. I know, it’s outrageous.

Previously I’d only had to deal with the kids for a couple of hours at a time, and I thought they were great. After three days of self-isolating, I’ve begun to realise I don’t actually really like them. I mean they’re just so clingy. Most annoying of all, they won’t sit quietly on the settee and watch football with me.

Thank goodness we get our daily walk. It’s a moment of respite, a chance to escape and enjoy some solitude. I’m a big outdoors person anyway, but never ever have I enjoyed being outside as much.

At a time like this, even breathing the crisp fresh air makes you appreciate the joys of something so simple as the ability to go outside. In fact my big hope is that one long-lasting positive of coronavirus is that we reconnect with nature.

Forgive me for a moment for making a rare serious point. On my daily walk I’ve seen several parents out and about with their children – from teenagers to toddlers.

That wouldn’t have happened a week ago. The parents would be stressed out about work, and tired and moody, and the kids would stay in their rooms playing on their phones.

Maybe, just maybe – and as you read this next bit imagine a piece of stirring orchestral music in the background – families will forge closer bonds and carry on going for walks together when this whole thing is through.

I’d write more of this drivel but unfortunately my daughter wants me to go and watch Bob The Builder with her. Ah, the joys of self-isolation. Roll on 2021.