Isolation diary: Signing off

This is my last regular diary entry, although I may drop in occasional extra posts when things change for us. I have written every single day since 16th March when we went into voluntary self-isolation to protect my husband.  The rest of the country joined us in lockdown a week later.

Shielding will continue until the end of July at least, so my life is still going to be considerably more restricted than most people as lockdown is eased. From next Monday persons who are shielded like my husband no longer have to socially distance themselves from other members of the household who are not shielding. I have chosen to shield up to now, but in theory I could now drop my shielding precautions and join the rest of you in shops, pubs and restaurants, or even on the beach. However that does add an extra layer of risk so I don’t think I’ll do so for the time being.

If you’ve been following my diary you will know that I have been enjoying my time at home. I have had a rich cultural life during lockdown. I have enjoyed recordings of world class live theatre productions – drama, ballet and opera –  via National Theatre at Home and The Royal Opera. Highlights have included One Man, Two Guvnors (NT), The Magic Flute (ROH), La Fille mal Gardee (ROH), A Midsummer Night’s Dream from the Bridge Theatre (NT), and Frankenstein (NT).

I have watched several box sets, often following recommendations by friends  – Normal People (i-Player), Devs (i-Player), The Kominsky Method (Netflix), Unorthodox (Netflix), The Capture (i-Player).  And I have discovered some lockdown gems  – the W1A Zoom meeting, David Tennant and Michael Sheen in Staged (i-Player), Alan Ayckbourn’s audio play Anno Domino, plus the current series of Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads (i-Player). My drama group at the Rose Kingston has continued with a weekly online meeting where we have been swapping recommendations and reading scenes.

I have enjoyed all kinds of music, including the sublime Stabat Mater by James Macmillan on Good Friday, The Irish Blessing (for which my son was the music producer) and the rehearsals for Gareth Malone’s Great British Home Chorus – including songs by Elton John and Duran Duran. Andrew Griffiths, our musical director at Kingston Choral Society, has been sharing weekly introductions to new musical experiences and interviews with other musicians. This week we are all busy submitting videos of ourselves singing Alleluia from Handel’s Coronation Anthems to produce a lockdown choir performance as a permanent record of this time.

On the negative side I have put on weight. That is partly because my step rate has dropped alarmingly, and also because I tend to turn to food for comfort. Although I am not suffering from anxiety, the early days were rather stressful as the news seemed to get worse each day. Food has been constantly on my mind – getting a delivery at all was a struggle at the beginning. I have had to be quite inventive with the stocks actually in the house, since I can’t just pop out for more onions or milk. Meals have become disproportionately important, although I have actually enjoyed trying out a lot of new recipes. I have also been craving chocolate.

My sleep patterns have changed – I am not sleeping as much as I should at night, but then find myself napping during the day.

Finally, I have been sharing my lockdown hair with you. Back in March it was short and spiky, as in my profile picture. This is what it looks like now. It will be interesting to see what it looks like when it has grown even longer, so I won’t be rushing to the hairdresser yet.

The main photo was taken at the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show in 2016. It is of the World Vision Garden designed by John Warland, a relative of some friends of ours. This year’s show, planned for next week, has been cancelled, of course.






Please note

We have been in full self-isolation since 16th March to protect my husband whose immune system is compromised.

If you are in self-isolation then join the Lib Dems in self-isolation Facebook group.

You can find my previous Isolation diaries here.


* Mary Reid is a contributing editor on Lib Dem Voice. She was a councillor in Kingston upon Thames, where she is still very active with the local party, and is the Hon President of Kingston Lib Dems.

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • John Marriott 30th Jun '20 - 7:06pm

    Who needs Samuel Pepys or Queen Victoria for that matter when we have Mary Reid’s ‘Isolation Diary’? Well done, Mary. It just shows that not all Lib Dems are one dimensional!
    PS The hair looks great. As one of the follically challenged brigade I’m quite jealous!

  • Catherine Smart 30th Jun '20 - 9:28pm

    Thank you, Mary, you have certainly lightened lock-down for me. I have very much enjoyed your Diary. You might consider putting them all together as a booklet.

  • Thanks, both. I am indeed planning to pull them together into a book, with some extra chapters to give the context. I already have getting on for 60,000 words. I don’t think there is any commercial interest, so will probably self publish for friends and family. But maybe I can sell a few copies through LDV?

  • Lorenzo Cherin 1st Jul '20 - 12:10am

    Keep doing what you do Mary, cheering us on or sharing your news, a much appreciated series of regular articles, by a very respected member of our party.

    And the hair’s great!

  • Rosie Sharpley 1st Jul '20 - 8:45am

    You have kept us all going Mary especially those of us locked down. I’m sure we will be fine for the next four weeks or so. The difficulty will be throwing off the restrictions and leaping out into the world again. How about a “virtual ” canvass session in Kingston ?

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