Living with the lockdown, Volume 2
Published on: Sunday, October 18, 2020
By: Sylvia Howe
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I’ve been wondering what to write about this week – no activities worth mentioning, unless you want detailed descriptions of the washing up, sheet changing, cat litter cleaning out. A lot of cleaning – come back Janet! I long for our maid/helper/whatever you want to call her to be able to return and work her magic. 

Housework is not my favourite activity – my sons were taught (nay, ordered) to clear their plates and wash them from a very early age. I never got them to clear their rooms, which is why they lived (and probably still live) in deep litter, but that’s up to them. I am not a servant, and they are fully in command of their faculties. The women in their lives (I hesitate – is it partner? Girlfriend? Not wife yet but I’m hoping) owe me a debt of real gratitude.

We watch the telly. We read. I paint and follow the You Tube videos of Alex Tzavaras which I cannot recommend highly enough if you want to paint portraits.

From Jesselton to Kota Kinabalu

With the team of writers and editors, I work on From Jesselton to Kota Kinabalu, the book I told you about last week. It’s terrific.  Here’s the cover, so you know what to look for when it hits the streets.  And here’s what it says on the back:


This book is unique. 

It is the product of a community project in Gaya Street in 2011. 

A group of people, fascinated by the history of Jesselton, 

set themselves up in Gaya Street and invited the public 

to share their memories, experiences and photographs.

The responses flooded in. People unearthed their memories 

and their photos and came to talk about the early days of Bond Street, 

their war experiences, their school days, the excitement and drama 

of Independence, and the birth of Kota Kinabalu

 as a vibrant modern city, still reflecting the influences of its past.

Some of the stories and photographs have never been shared before, 

and we are very pleased to have been able to collect them 

in this publication so they can never be lost or forgotten.

All profits to charity.

Learning to live with girlfriends    

Talking of girlfriends, we are lucky that both our sons have chosen to live with women who are terrific. One is half Spanish/half Colombian so the only slight disadvantage is that they may choose to decamp to South America at some point, if the Andes start calling. The other is British and they squeeze into her small flat in Bermondsey, London for the moment, while looking for something bigger.  

The future? Who knows. I can only be relieved the boys have chosen wisely – at last. It’s not always been so, and I am sure mothers out there will relate to thehorrors! The barnacles who hated me as competition (one had a mother who wanted to envelop our son in the tentacles of their family and never let him out). 

But this too will pass, I told myself, through gritted teeth – a phrase that applies to so many things, including of course Covid-19. 

And I was right.

The thoughts of Chairman Howe on Covid 

Covid. Can we bear to bring up the subject?  Well, only if everyone is nice and calm, and doesn’t start quoting exaggerated facts and fake news. I have been very interested in why people make a bad situation worse by being overdramatic. Spreading fake news of closures, eg at Karamunsing which was a straightforward lie. And my goodness, when the poor lady on Floor x in our building owned up to having it, everyone got their knickers in a twist. I would have been surprised if a condo building like ours didn’t have someone get it eventually and well done (I still seethe about the pointless closure of the swimming pool, by the way). 

Always good to have the information (eg Tong Hing, who sent out a clear and very measured letter yesterday about one of their staff having it – well done them) but there are ways of sharing.  Calm, mes braves, calm. 

My take on this (for what it’s worth) is:

We have Covid and it is not going anywhere. It never did, even after the last lockdown. We need to live with it, instead of holding our breath for the vaccine. When that comes, things may be different, but even if it is effective results won’t be immediate.

We should stop fanning up panic and worry – there is a lot to be said for acceptance (I’m a fine one to talk but I try).

We might get Covid whatever happens.  Not a good outcome, but most people don’t die or have that horrible intubation business. Some don’t have any symptoms at all – they need to avoid giving it to others, so need to isolate.

We can protect ourselves (and it seems to work) with SPACE, FACE and WASH. I made that up – it might catch on. That’s the best we can do, and much better than quivering behind the sofa.

We should keep an eye out for our neighbours and check on the more vulnerable.

We are allowed to go to the supermarket and to the doctor, and we can order food delivered if we don't feel like cooking it. This has the added value of supporting local businesses, so I recommend it on lots of levels, beginning with laziness, and ending with altruism.

Sabah has a lot more cases than it did, but other countries have so so so many more. It is not perfect, but we are doing not so badly… Hey, we could be in the US, which has a lot of other issues we’d have to deal with too!

Be kind. Be sensible. Be calm.  Listen to instructions and keep drama to a minimum.

There. That should do it – or at least make things better. And until we are allowed out into the streets again, you can start saving up for our book. You won’t regret it!

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