‘I can now do it in less than two minutes’: a Rubik’s cube and nine other objects readers relied on in lockdown | Life and style


‘This paintbrush tells of a freedom of expression’

Helen Halliday-Huitson's paintbrush

The one object that sums up my lockdown is a paintbrush. There’s nothing particularly spectacular about this one, although it’s my favourite. It just represents the amount of time I have spent painting large and small paintings across different media. Painting has given me a purpose other than home working and I’ve sold a few pieces and have developed my style. It’s the freedom of expression, and the growing in confidence, and people’s reactions to what I paint that this simple brush tells of. Helen Halliday-Huitson, 48, information governance officer for a non-profit organisation, North Tyneside

‘Long live my Stratocaster’

Alasdair Lambie playing his Stratocaster

I took up the electric guitar in March 2020, almost the same day that lockdown was declared in Spain. Despite never sticking with other hobbies – gardening, learning Italian, stamp collecting – I’ve managed to maintain a regime of two hours’ daily practice with my two teachers, Ignacio and Brian. I have even reached the point where my wife recently told me: “Some of that was listenable.” It has kept my head in the right place most of the time, despite being operated on for cancer and having my first ever epileptic fit, all in this past year. Long live my Stratocaster. Alasdair Lambie, 72, retired teacher, Huércanos, La Rioja, Spain

‘My journal helped me make sense of it all’

Louise Baillie's abstract floral bound journal

Throughout lockdown, I found keeping a journal helpful. It hasn’t been filled with the most exciting observations, I’ll admit. There’s a lot of “went for a walk round town again” and “tried out a new recipe today”. Still, in those early days of the pandemic, when everything was new and bewildering, it was a comfort to write it all down. Now the journal is like a good friend. I continue to update it as the restrictions ease slowly, still describing in enthralling detail my banana bread attempts. Looking back on entries from early 2020, where coronavirus is first mentioned, it is clear how uneasy and anxious I felt. But the journal has been there to help me make sense of it all. Louise Baillie, 25, copywriter, Ayrshire, Scotland

‘My partner designed this panel as his lockdown project’

Stained glass panel Anne Murphy's partner designed and made as his lockdown project
The stained glass panel Anne Murphy’s partner made as his lockdown project. He died last November, aged 65.

This is a stained glass panel my partner designed and made as his lockdown project. He died in November when his cancer returned. He was 65. Stained glass was his retirement hobby. He positioned the panel so the sun shone through. It is not perfect as there are several cracks in the glass, but Don felt the cracks were part of the situation we found ourselves in. The panel is a reminder of the start of the lockdown, when Don had the energy to be creative. Anne Murphy, 59, retired, Nottingham

‘My coffee cup accompanies me every single morning’

AllPress coffee cup on a desk

The object that sums up my lockdown is the brown and black AllPress coffee cup that accompanies me while working at home every morning. Before I sit down to write my thesis, meet with students, or analyse some data, I walk the 15 minutes to my beloved coffee shop and pick up a latte with one brown sugar. Not to be dramatic, but these coffees have been the only thing to keep me sane during lockdown. Madeleine Pownall, 24, university lecturer, Leeds

‘My Rubik’s cube helps with my mental health’

Phil with his Rubik’s cube.

I have been practising mindfulness for a while, to help with my bipolar condition, but lockdown allows me to think too much, which is not good. I seem to be working more hours than when I was in the office. My Rubik’s cube gives me a break; something to keep me in the moment. I used to be able to crack it decades ago, when it was all the rage in the 80s. It seemed easy as a teen. So I looked up the algorithms – it’s all about algorithms, you see – and worked out the patterns and routines. I do it three times a day now. It helps with my mental health and exercises the brain. Sometimes, I forget a pattern and I fear my mental capacity is waning, but then I stop, think, and get back in the groove. I’m down to a sub-two-minute record now. Phil, 56, product designer, Wrexham

‘The urn is my daily reminder that life stubbornly goes on’

Juliet Stavely

Ten years ago, with the lure of prosciutto and a humane trap, I scooped up a feral kitten with a badly broken leg. I called him Plucky. The kitten’s leg had already healed at a strange angle, which he used to his advantage as a kind of crowbar – getting him into cupboards, drawers and bread bins to steal food. He was the brightest, goofiest, greediest mog imaginable. During the first lockdown in Italy, he was run over by a speeding car and dumped on our land. With so much human death and suffering going on in the world at that time, his end was small and insignificant to anyone but me and my partner. I have a long-term health condition that has left me with chronic pain, and the cat was my constant companion during sleepless nights and difficult days. Grief, in all forms, is magnified in lockdown. This urn now symbolises many things – painful loss, incredible memories, deep gratitude for my friend who helped me to search for him in the pouring rain, the compassion of an amazing little family-run pet crematorium. It is my daily reminder that life stubbornly goes on, and that love is never wasted. Juliet Staveley, 46, copywriter and editor, North Tuscany, Italy

‘We made a quilt portraying 20 individuals who died from Covid’

Rita Collins.

In spring 2020, a few of us began working on a project. The quilt is composed of woodblock printed portraits of 20 individuals who died from Covid. It took most of the summer to carve the blocks, then in the fall we began sewing them together to become the top of a quilt. Later in the fall, a small group of women who had begun meeting once a week (with masks), quilted the layers together. The quilt sums up the lockdown for me. The long, slow process. The sadness recognising those we lost. Rita Collins, 69, community activist and travelling bookshop owner, Montana, US

‘I played the trombone again after a 28-year hiatus’

Richard Jones holding his trombone

After endless Teams meetings in the cold dark third lockdown, coupled with a dawning realisation that I wasn’t really nurturing my creative side, I said aloud to myself, either I write a book or choose music. I picked up the trombone again following a 28-year hiatus, after playing in brass bands and a local Commitments-style soul band. I practise most days now and am hoping to be good enough to answer a wanted ad for a jazz/funk player and conquer the world on stage. Richard Jones, 47, civil servant, Cwmbran

‘I’m unlikely to pick the Nintendo Switch up again’

Nintendo Switch showing Animal Crossing home screen

I bought a Nintendo Switch last June, when they were in high demand and often out of stock. The game Animal Crossing was a perfect, mundane activity for a lockdown evening where one could escape to an imaginary world where Covid-19 didn’t exist. I probably won’t pick it up again after lockdown, so it will always remind me of those evenings where nothing else could be done. Megan, 25, education manager, Colchester



Source link