Another week in lockdown means another week of quaran-dreaming. Because despite the slow easing of restrictions (hurrah for limitless hours of outdoor exercise), our everyday lives are still far from what they used to be.
So, to ensure we don’t forget about normality entirely, we’re back with more musings of local folk, as they share with us where they’ll be heading to as soon as Boris lifts those pesky (albeit entirely necessary) social distancing rules…
As a local freelancer, I thought I’d miss wandering into Epsom town to find a quiet spot to work. I usually work from home so I look forward to those times when I set up my laptop in a cafe. It’s those Tuesday afternoons following the lunchtime rush that I wrap myself around a flat white and tap away working on my latest writing submission or podcast episode. The blissful break of routine.
Although I hold these moments dear, it’s not what I find myself daydreaming of in lockdown. It’s those late afternoon pub trips in the hustle and bustle of the central square.
The self-employed person inside of me loves the quietness of off-peak life. Yet, in these last few weeks, I’m hit with a ping of sadness whenever I walk by a deserted pub on my daily walk. I yearn for those Thursday afternoons where my husband and I (he works shifts) head to The Marquis of Granby around 4 o’clock before the after work-rush. We order our usual glass of red (me), a pint (him) with two packets of crisps before the workers pour in at 5 o’clock. Some enter the pub alone and others in larger groups; we watch from the front pub garden as they drip in faster as time ticks past the hour.
We overhear work chatter, watch passers-by carry dinner home in their overflowing bags for life, and cringe as kids ride scooters uncomfortably close to the flowing traffic as their parent yells, SLOW DOWN! Then it hits 6 o’clock, peak time as tired commuters make their way home, one driver pounds the car horn at a fellow motorist who’s lingered too long at the lights as they switch to green.
On a typical day, I’d find myself agitated with the overwhelm of noise. But, after lockdown, I think I might observe these busy scenes differently, even just for a little while. I’ll sit in the sense of appreciation of some kind of normality with my husband, red wine and packet of crisps at my favourite local pub.
If I’m honest, my return to civilisation is going to be a frantic orgy of retail therapy, people-watching and food. My work life is often a solitary existence, and most days pre C-19 I’d recharge with an hour or two in Epsom before returning to my desk. Isolation isn’t new to me, but I haven’t escaped my house in over two months and am in desperate need of some photosynthesis! My family are keeping a bucket list of everything they want to do post-pandemic. Most of their desires involve mountains, swimming and holidays. Mine are just about people. I’m a voracious people-watcher (people are fascinating, whoever they are) and Epsom is a writer’s dream. Peel back the surface and it’s like a David Lynch movie.
So there’s no travel on my list. But there is a trip to watch the Asian lady who busks outside Pret. I’ve no idea what her story is, except she plays a mandolin, singing unabashedly, a smile from ear to ear. She fills me with joy every time I see her (probably because part of me envies her joie de vivre). I want to know about her, where she’s from, how did she end up here (if unexpectedly, what were her ambitions)?
For similar reasons, I love sitting in any one of our 97 cafes, dining on people’s behaviour like a sponge, watching the lady who slips in with her dog in a pram (and then has to tell him to be quiet because babies don’t typically bark) or the man in Cafe Nero having long phone conversations despite the fact there is no one on the other end. And if you want people-watching, I have to make my regular trip to TKMaxx (don’t judge) because it’s like crack for writers. Not just because I love a bargain, but because it’s an absolute treasure trove of humanity, a microcosm of the world. But probably more than all of this, despite being imprisoned with my wife and two children for over 60 days solid, I want to do the normal, everyday things we used to do together as a family. A Nutella crepe with my kids in Zig Zag (their favourite place in the world, and I have a feeling the ever-attentive owners Mike and Carmen are my daughter’s favourite people); a Katsu curry for lunch with my wife in Bamboo Basket (one of the few chances we get to have real conversations – you know, the ones you had before life got in the way). Again, it’s all about people. There is a dark irony that the very last thing I was working on before lockdown was the script for the sci fi online series Epsom, about the people of Epsom thrown into a world-crushing event. I can’t wait to jump back into that, even though I hadn’t realised it was a documentary. For some added realism maybe I’ll add a mandolin busker or a dog in a pram.
Chris Hastings is the Founder and Artistic Director of The Satisfied Eye International Film Festive satisfiedeye.com
“Whadda ya mean we’re attempting to exit this lockdown!” My first thoughts on the unimaginable interruption to my lockdown captivity. It is not for nothing I’ve been on an emotional rollercoaster with binge watching Normal People, and exhausted from the sheer mayhem and madness of viewing Netflix’s Tiger King. Both the former and the latter threw up all manner of fashion issues and debates which has filled the style pages of various newspapers and magazines. I’ve got a whole list of TV catch ups to tick off still.
Although I do really want to go out out again. I long for the unfettered, not constrained to the exercise or essential shop allowance, or wherever we are at now. My biggest joy will be a takeout coffee. Heading to *Senzo for one of its velvet flat whites the moment cafes are properly given the go ahead. Combined with the tantalising option of nipping onto Total Look for a beauty treatment, although we all know this means de-fuzzing or waxing!
I’ll want to hot foot it to Epsom’s Upper High Street to buy meat from Ben’s Butchery rather than order it. Even if that did feel very ‘BBC 1950s drama’, putting in the meat order for it then to be delivered. The delight of popping into Yo Sarnie! for a spectacular salad or sandwich will further embolden my joy. And with the thought of all these possibilities I’ve moved from reluctant lockdown exiteer to longing for the being of the everyday we took for granted. Including what must now be the top luxury, a haircut! Preferably with Louise at Campbell & Co in Ewell Village.
More than anything I’m almost giddy for the evening I can meet the other half for a cheeky drink on the way home from work at The Rifleman, specifically a very cold French Chardonnay they serve there. In the garden of course, not near anyone!
*Senzo are open for takeout coffee from 9am to 1pm daily.
Kate Battrick is a freelance writer and stylist