Jane Stuart – Writer

Writing about real life Up North: football, ale, food and mental health – with a good dash of humour.

The Corona Diaries: Chapter 9 – Food Fabulous Food

How have your eating habits changed since lockdown, dear reader? I have evolved from snacking ALL THE TIME to taking three square meals a day and hardly snacking at all.

Now I’ve never really been one for breakfast, the thought of food first thing in the morning making my stomach churn. But things have changed. These days I’m getting a good 8-9 hours sleep every night (I never set the alarm because I’m taking full advantage of not being ruled by the clock). I drink a glass of water before getting out of bed and asking Siri to:

‘Shuffle Jane’s Favourites Playlist.’

Having spent minutes every morning umming and ahhing over whether to listen to Buckcherry, Starsailor, Kirsty MacColl, etc. in the shower, I’ve finally followed Lee’s example and compiled a playlist of all my favourites. I’m collecting new songs all the time that I can add to it, this being the latest, which features in Money Heist, which Lee and I are addicted to on Netflix:

This has got me listening to more and more Italian and French music, which Alexa (who I’ve now finally befriended after months of her stubbornness) plays to me as I work. Through this I have learned a few interesting things.

1. ‘Ciao Bella’ was sung by the Italians from their balconies during lockdown. Here are the lyrics translated into English:

One morning I awakened,
oh bella ciao, bella ciao, bella ciao, ciao, ciao! (Goodbye beautiful)
One morning I awakened
And I found the invader.

Oh partisan carry me away,
oh bella ciao, bella ciao, bella ciao, ciao, ciao
oh partisan carry me away
Because I feel death approaching.

And if I die as a partisan,
oh bella ciao, bella ciao, bella ciao, ciao, ciao
and if I die as a partisan
then you must bury me.

Bury me up in the mountain,
oh bella ciao, bella ciao, bella ciao, ciao, ciao
bury me up in the mountain
under the shade of a beautiful flower.

And all those who shall pass,
oh bella ciao, bella ciao, bella ciao, ciao, ciao
and all those who shall pass
will tell me “what a beautiful flower.”

This is the flower of the partisan,
oh bella ciao, bella ciao, bella ciao, ciao, ciao
this is the flower of the partisan
who died for freedom.

2. Madonna, who also recorded a song called ‘Bella Ciao’, has a song about a bodyshop. Not the one that sells scented goods, but where your car goes for repair. I simply cannot get my head around this. I mean WHY?!

This led me and Lee to a conversation about songs about cars, of which there are many. So many, in fact, that I’ve started a car playlist to listen to in my car perchance I’m ever allowed to drive anywhere again (not that I’m missing it really). This includes ‘Autophilia’ by The Bluetones, ‘Fast Car’ by Tracy Chapman and of course the classic ‘Greased Lightnin’.’

3. The Blackpool chant ‘We’re From Back Henry Street / And We Deny Defeat’ derives from the Edith Piaf song ‘Milord’. Bet she never envisaged that.

But I digress. Now revitalised after singing lustily in the shower every morning, I find myself ready for breakfast. I’ve not quite mastered the art of the healthy breakfast yet (not being quite sure what that involves, still being new to this breakfast lark), so I’ve been eating cereal. My eyes were drawn to this on the shelf at Asda last week:

Now, dear reader, since when have Sugar Puffs not been called Sugar Puffs? Well, since 2014 apparently (just goes to show how infrequently I have taken breakfast over the years).

Anyway a big bowl of these keeps me going all morning, with no need for snackage, so that has to be a good thing (I think?). The proof will be in the (haunted) scales.

I have started making lunch (not dinner, as I usually take it in the city and it’s called lunch there, I’ve been conditioned) now, too (as opposed to snacking my way through the afternoon): soup, a sandwich, a salad (I do a mean tuna niçoise) or some Ryvita (had Ryvita Thins today – they are very good).

And tea (not dinner, it’s only dinner if I’m taking an evening meal in a restaurant) is the main meal of the day and could be anything. Eating at home ALL THE TIME has led me to discover some tasty new foods. Piccolo Star potatoes are deliciously flavoursome; Asda’s own Lamb Rogan Josh and Chicken Jalfrezi are just the right level of hot (their Chicken Vindaloo is too much for me); and Batman burgers are ace (and yes we are big kids, like you didn’t already know that!):

Now you may recall I had been intending to write a microblog every day during lockdown. This was because I had been worried about my mental state when staying at home with no football and no pubbage – and being flung from a fairly new relationship into being with Lee 24/7 (would we survive?). But we have adapted to this ‘new normal’ like ducks to water. We couldn’t be more content (killer virus, lack of football and not earning enough to cover the bills aside). We have no time pressures, meaning we can take our time over things that we would have been rushing over and getting stressed about in the past, for example formatting pages on the fanzine.

Did I mention there was a new issue of the fanzine out now? It’s another smashing read (‘the best yet’ according to one subscriber).

I have had the odd down day (I think more hormonal than anything) but have been taking daily steps to manage my mental health which appear to be working very well. Most recently I have discovered an app called Fabulous, which has encouraged me to bring in a number of simple but beneficial steps into my daily routine, such as the glass of water I drink before getting out of bed, stretching, writing a to do list, breathing, meditating, 20 minutes a day of decluttering – and reading a chapter of a book. Dear reader, I cannot remember the last time I picked up a book (well, Kindle, technically – nay the Kindle app on my iPad these days). If you’re struggling I heartily recommend the Fabulous app. They’re also on YouTube:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCPlnYnQ2pkUJ7ifUxm163GQ

We’ve also been enjoying the simple things in life and enjoying the things around us in the natural world – and beyond. We have been going out every night looking for the Starlink satellites in the night sky. Check this out:

We haven’t managed to spot them yet but will keep trying, despite beginning to wonder if they are a myth designed to just give us something to do during lockdown. It hasn’t been a complete waste of time, though. We now know that Venus is brightly visible in the evenings in April. And we know where The Plough is (the star constellation, not the pub (remember them?)).

What new wonders have you discovered during lockdown so far, dear reader? It’s certainly a very different world, where our priorities have very much shifted. We have gone back to basics, appreciating the simple things and finding time for those we love.

Speaking of which, here’s our latest livestream:

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