Lockdown Babies


After you’ve mowed the grass, trimmed the hedges, marked your children’s verbal reasoning papers, walked the dogs, weeded the flowerbeds, polished the silver, dusted your books, done some office work, run out of things to put on the bonfire, struggled through the thoughts of Scruton with a claret, and watched all there is worth watching on Netflix and Amazon Prime, what the hell else is there to do?

Expect a baby boom during this lockdown.

Against a background of temporary morgues and the coffin makers’ bonanza, humans are shaping their disgruntled answer. The wartime babies were no coincidence – expect Lockdown babies to pop out like gremlins in great numbers come Christmastime as the concept of human life itself now feels threatened. That state of somnambulistic “We’ll get around to it someday; we’ve all the time in the world” complacency has evaporated. Today there is a ubiquitous, wide-awake appreciation that life is both precious and uncertain, and that the perfect tomorrow some are waiting for may never dawn.

What kind of world shall we bring these children into? Who cares? Humans have faced threats and danger throughout the eons. Evolution has inured us to stick two fingers up at the worriment of survival by positively cooperating with others and building strength through numbers. This new wave of sprogs shall be the product of couples realising that they are with their right one, or as a consequence of making up from a terrible argument with the one they are locked down with, who may or may not be the right one after all. Either which way, every sperm is now genuinely sacred.

Coronavirus seems a cunning bastard of an illness. We are only in 1941 of this war, perhaps. The stories on the news range from grim to gloomy. The lurgy is Hitler and he is winning – the Einsatzgruppen doing their bloody worst. Those days of waiting for the death tally as if it were the cricket score are long gone. People are clocking onto the fact that being locked down and bombarded by bleak news on a daily basis gets one down. There are better things in life – it didn’t do Ernest Shackleton any good to leave behind cases full of rare old Highland malt whisky. Those books that remained unread on the shelves get read. That last Cohiba is asking to be cut and smoked. The bath turns out to be a bath in which one can wallow, rather than mere shower basin. Who’s going to laugh at that dreadful jumper now? “Darling, where are my pinkie-red corduroy trousers?” These days one even has the time to stop and chat with the family cat – “and how are you today, Mouse? How’s hunting?”

Getting to know one’s existing children is a definite positive of the lockdown. Teachers are surely a dying breed – the interactive lessons available online are both inspiring and fun. There is a happy vengeance in giving an unruly ten-year-old a morning essay title of “I am a fly. Discuss”. “Don’t mention the unmentionable word,” they scream and put their fingers in their ears as I ask them if sex education should be on the home school timetable. We were always sent on 5am runs for terrible behaviour – this generation of children are softies – my young lad Henry was forced to endure ten laps of the garden after the punishment of “being sent to the corner” resulted in a fit of giggles. He cried and complained of a stitch. Now I know what it feels like to be the teacher – the butt of jokes and passed notes – as my children, while pretending to do an online Geography multiple choice test on their computers, surreptitiously exchange a slew of emails which relentlessly rifle the piss out of the Home School Headmaster. Teachers, you lost the lottery of life but fear not – there is karma in this world.

Despite one’s pupils being snotty, naughty and incapable of comprehending anything from the A-Level textbooks you dug out of the attic, you still want more. Screw you, Coronavirus. Screw you, Hitler. Life must go on, whether we parents are downed in the process or survive. Shag for Britain, Dear Readers. Your country needs you.