My Lockdown Survival Kit is Made Up of Chicken Runs, Dog Days and Spanish Lessons Blog from Gary Little, Charity Ambassador, Support in Mind Scotland Like so many others, I have found myself stuck in Groundhog Day during the coronavirus lock-down. I had been looking forward to a big year of comedy gigs, including the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and I had the whole of 2020 pretty much mapped out, but that’s all been knocked on the head by the coronavirus crisis. The way things stand, you can’t even plan ahead, you can only pencil in dates and see what the lie of the land is when we get there. There are far more important things going on than comedy of course, but you do wonder what will happen when venues start to open up again – whenever that is. You can’t really do social distancing for comedy gigs. Part of the attraction is sitting in packed comedy clubs, laughing next to strangers , getting caught up in the atmosphere, and you won’t be able to do that if you are in a room that holds 200, with only with 50 allowed into a room, all spread out. There will be a degree of fear too, especially if there are people sitting in the front row worried about me shouting into the microphone and spraying my saliva everywhere! I had prepared a lot of new material for 2020, so it will have ‘matured’ by the time I get to share it with an audience. I feel sorry for audiences next year, because all there is going to be 100 comedians talking about this bloody coronavirus, with loads of shitty puns to make you groan. I’ll make you a wee promise - I won’t be one of them! There is my USP - not talking about coronavirus. So with no gigs to go to, no gyms open, and no Munros to climb, I have been finding other ways of keeping myself occupied. At least my dogs are keeping fit – they have never had so many walks and are loving it. They must be getting up to six walks a day round Springburn Park. Not that I know what day it is – sometimes I find myself asking ‘what day of the week is this’? My dogs Nina, a six-year-old whippet and Rusty (5), a whippet cross Bedlington are loving it, getting lots of exercise. I set the dogs a wee challenge of jumping over a pyramid of toilet rolls (not panic bought I should add), but the floor was too slippy and hard and they couldn’t get a good running jump at it. You could I was disappointed and embarrassed by their efforts! I have four chickens – caged hens that have been rescued from slaughter - and they are out the back all day now and getting to run about, having the time of their lives. They are now happily destroying the back garden! The Sun newspaper came round and did an interview with me about the hens during lockdown under the headline ‘Chicken Little’. These are strange times indeed! I consider myself quite fortunate compared to other people who are more isolated and not so lucky, in so much that it’s just me, the dogs, and the chickens… I can keep costs low and don’t have a big family to feed. I am doing my best to have a new routine but definitely miss the old routine. I miss being able to go to the gym, and although I started a wee home work-out at the start of the lock-down, it only lasted a week. A couple of days ago I decided to give it another go, because I noticed that I put on a bit of weight, because every time you walk past the kitchen you say to yourself, 'I’ll just have another biscuit!’. I’ll get through the coronavirus and have obesity to deal with instead if I don’t do something about it. I find myself reading more. Someone sent me a book through the post, which was welcome but a bit weird because I’ve no idea who sent me it. It’s called ‘A Horse Walks Into A Bar’ by David Grossman, and is about an Israeli comedian. It won the Man Booker Prize in 2017, but personally I wouldn’t rave about it – it was just okay in my eyes. But thanks anyway to the mystery person who kindly sent it. I have also decided I am going to learn Spanish, so I have been studiously doing a lesson each day. I bought a box-set of 12 CDs and signed up to a course, and have been working my way through the lessons. It’s been interesting to see how determined people have become during lockdown, and the hobbies they have taken up. I have even dabbled with the idea of trying to learn the piano. I bought one on Christmas Eve and thought I would do be a natural, but quickly realised that this was not the case. It’s still just sitting there in my middle room waiting to be shown some attention, so if boredom really sets in I may try again. I think I will concentrate on the Spanish first before I tackle any new career as a pianist. There are quite a few comedians who use music for their acts, but it’s usually a guitar that is the instrument of choice and it might be a bit of a stretch for me to wheel a piano on to the stage! I don’t know if it’s easier being on your own or not. I am sure there are a lot of couples who are realising they are not as compatible with each other as they thought! At least we can still go out for a walk. Places like Spain and Italy were completely locked down most of the day and that must have been hard. My heart goes out to people who are struggling with their mental health during this crisis. For those stuck in the house, or at home instead of work, there is danger of losing a lot of motivation. Financial worries will also be affecting a lot of people with their mental health. If you are already struggling to get by and your wages are taken away or you are furloughed then that is hard. Mental Health organisations like Support in Mind Scotland are more important than ever. It’s clear that there are more people struggling with their mental health, and that will be the case whenever this ends. People who were already feeling vulnerable are getting bombarded with so much news, and don’t know what to believe – that can only increase and their fear and anxiety. These are really strange times and you do wonder how people’s attitudes will be going forward. People are all saying support the NHS, but that should have happened a long time ago. It is good to see people clapping for the NHS and key workers, but I hope that level of support is maintained when all this done. And it will all be done… one day. Stay safe. Gary If you're struggling with your mental health, we're here for you. Our information line is open M-F, 9-4pm on 0300 323 1545 or you can email [email protected]. You can also message us on Facebook. If you are feeling affected by money worries, we have a Mental Health and Money Advice line that are here to support you. Please find out more by clicking here. We are also part of the recently launched Clic online community forum, which is open 24/7. Full of information, it is a place where you can open up about your mental health with others in similar situations. Visit www.clic-uk.org/ to sign up for free.