So, it seems lockdown is slowly coming to an end, although who knows what will happen with predictions of a second spike. Things won’t return to true normality for a long time but they are certainly changing. And, I’m really glad about that. I, by no means, struggled during lockdown and actually quite enjoyed having so much time to myself (my somewhat introverted nature served me well). In fact, I appreciated the excuse to delve into the books, TV shows and films I’d previously been unable to enjoy because of the business of everyday life. Regardless, I’m happy to see rules and guidelines loosening and the world once again enjoying some freedom and thought I’d share the media that I consumed during lockdown, as well as the milestones that passed.
Alongside Covid-19, the recent months will be defined in history as a time of civil unrest and action. With the death of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis police force back in May, and the tragic killings of many others, the Black Lives Matter movement really picked up traction. As such, I made an effort to educate myself about issues surrounding race in the media I consumed.
What I Did…
Possibly the most important milestone that passed during lockdown was finishing my bachelor’s degree in English Language. After four years of hard work, I can finally call myself a graduate. I may be graduating into an incredibly tough job market, but I’m happy and incredibly proud of myself nonetheless. Between not being very academically driven and not particularly enjoying my degree content, I struggled a lot. And, I’m definitely relieved it’s over.
We’ve all missed out on important and exciting events because of Covid-19. From holidays to weddings and other celebrations, lockdown forced so much to be put on hold. For me, the most important thing I missed out on was competing at the 2020 ICU World Championships with Team England Adaptive Abilities Pom. While I’m still devastated by this missed opportunity, training has continued and I’m more determined than ever to become the best dancer I can be and represent my country next year.
What I Watched…
So, I realise that season one of Killing Eve came out two years ago now but I never really got into it while it was on TV. I partially blame this on my (unhealthy) obsession with Grey’s Anatomy and only ever truly seeing Sandra Oh as Cristina Yang. However, with the arrival of lockdown and a lack of anything else to do, I decided to give it another go. And, I really enjoyed it. It’s incredibly witty and Villanelle’s sartorial choices are impeccable. I’ve actually ordered the book on which it is based from Amazon and am currently awaiting its arrival.
It seems like so long ago that Tiger King came out on Netflix but it was actually just one day before lockdown began in the UK. I divulged in the madness of it all, binging the entire series in a day and a half, and was completely intoxicated. What started as a documentary about big cat ownership in the US quickly got dragged down a rabbit hole of murder-for-hire, federal sentencing and a conspiracy theory that a big cat owner fed her husband to the tigers. While the documentary was certainly a wild ride, the main thing I took away from it was a deep sadness for the animals, who’ve somehow become pawns in their owners’ games.
Another personal milestone spent in lockdown was my 25th birthday. And, while I was unable to celebrate how I’d expected, I made the most of it. I ordered a takeaway from my favourite restaurant, indulged myself in far too much cake and downloaded Emma on Sky Movies. This latest adaptation of the Jane Austen novel starred Anya Taylor-Joy as the “handsome, clever and rich” protagonist. While the film didn’t feel particularly special, it was comedic, sweet and the costuming was magnificent.
In the time of civil unrest we are living in, it’s more important than ever to educate ourselves. When looking to do so, The Hate U Give was recommended to me. It tells the story of a young black student who witnesses a police shooting and struggles to navigate racial politics. As well as directly addressing systemic racism in the police force, it also deals with more subtle issues such as microaggressions towards black people and performative activism in white communities. The film was released back in 2018 but its message feels more relevant than ever.
And, in a time of great turmoil, Netflix’s Queer Eye is the perfect antidote. The TV equivalent of eating comfort food in your pyjamas returned for its fifth season during lockdown. The series gave a much needed dose of love, empathy and acceptance that left me feeling fuzzy from head to toe.
What I Read…
I first read Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women as a child. Then, I reread it before going to watch the 2019 film adaptation at the cinema. And, most recently, I’ve read it once again during lockdown to distract myself from what’s going on in the world right now. It’s one of my favourite books and I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of rereading it. In case you were wondering, I’m an Amy, always have been, always will be – and long before Florence Pugh made it socially acceptable to like her. I think it was the blue hues of her costuming throughout the 2019 film that inspired my current obsession with the colour.
For my final undergraduate assignment, I was given the task of writing about how different mediums affect a narrative. I chose to compare the opening chapter/scene of Kevin Kwan’s Crazy Rich Asians, then ended up rereading the entire book. It’s a contemporary romantic comedy that follows Rachel Chu to Singapore to meet her the her boyfriend’s family and attend his best friend’s wedding. However, he failed to mention that his family is incredible wealthy, leading him to be considered the most eligible bachelor in Asia, causing a number of dramas with jealous single women and his judgemental mother. Alongside the plot, it breaks the traditional stereotypes Western societies place on East Asia and is the perfect easy read.
Another recommendation: I was lucky enough to be able to access Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race through my university’s online library. Based on a blog post of the same name, it expresses Reni Eddo-Lodge’s frustration with how white people react to conversations about racism. She speaks of white privilege and that white people won’t accept that “racism is a white problem.” White people are often so resistant to talk about racial issues but we need to and we need to go beyond acts of performative activism to help bring about equality. If you read one book this year, read this one. It’s not an easy read but it’s worth it.
What I Listened to…
My daily streaming on Spotify has varied greatly throughout lockdown but the standout listen was Taylor Swift’s folklore. In the midst of the shitshow that is 2020, Swift’s latest release provided a silver lining for me. I first listened to the album in the bath and cried like a baby, a long overdue outpour of emotion triggered by its first track, ‘the 1’.
Her lyrical genius continued with lines like “You know the greatest loves of all time are over now” (‘the 1’), “I had a marvellous time ruining everything” (‘the last great american dynasty’) and “Right now is the last time I can dream about what happens when you see my face again” (‘betty’). And, something about this album felt really complete to me.
I grew up listening to Taylor Swift and feel like her music has grown up alongside me. From the bitter revenge of ‘Look What You Made Me Do’ (2017), to the playful cattiness of ‘I Forgot That You Existed’ (2019) to the nostalgic remembrance and acceptance of ‘the 1’ (2020), her music shows how we mature over time in how we react to life’s events and exactly how I feel in regards to my first real heartbreak. While I sometimes feel stuck in the days of the Reputation album, with my recent entry into true adulthood, I’m looking to mature too.