Mandy Wiener: On baking banana bread, drawing rainbows and missing live sport


The entire concept of lockdown is that we are fighting this thing together in a combined effort. It is teamwork. If just one of us breaks the chain and doesn’t stay home, it defeats the purpose. So I do find some satisfaction in knowing that we are all in this together, for a common goal, writes Mandy Wiener.

It’s just over halfway through lockdown and a novel coronavirus means a novel way of life for many of us. 

We have been forced to adapt and innovate, navigating our way through working from home and home schooling when we are woefully ill equipped to teach and mould little minds.

We have also had to adjust psychologically to this new concept of social distancing, being physically separated from friends, family and other breathing humans. We can’t embrace one another and the impact of that is profound. 

Almost half the world’s population is in some kind of isolation as the impact of Covid-19 takes grip. And people are resorting to the bizarre and the daft to keep themselves entertained.

Many have taken to filming videos of themselves trying to maintain some kind of exercise regime indoors, subscribing to some or other social media challenge or following live cooking demonstrations. 

In doing so, what I and many others are desperately seeking out is a sense of community, of belonging, in knowing that we are not existing in isolation of one another although we may be physically be in isolation. 

This is why, through the benefit of technology and social media, we all seem to be following similar trends of activities. Online yoga classes and HIIT workouts are booming as we aim to not only stay healthy and not lose our minds, but also do exercise along with other people at the same time.

It’s one of the reasons that Joe Wicks, the ‘Body Coach’, has almost a million kids around the world doing his PE classes every morning. They’re all doing it ‘together’ as a community. 

Towards the end of last week, as everyone’s stockpiled bananas began to turn and the weather cooled, there was a mad banana bread bake off across the country. Just about every person I knew was posting pictures of freshly baked loaves of the stuff coming out the oven. When I asked on Facebook, I got dozens of responses. Evidently this was ‘a thing’!

Even local music group The Kiffness posted a parody on the banana bread sensation. It made us all kind of feel that we were in it together, sharing the same lived experiences of enduring the same circumstances. Well, those in middle class households that could afford to stockpile bananas at least. 

Personally, I am feeling the lack of connection most in the absence of live sport on television. As an avid fan, I’ve always believed that sport is emotion amplified. When we invest in the outcome of a game, it makes us feel a part of something greater. For some it’s almost religious. It provides a bridge, a connection, an emotional framework for relationships. 

A shared sense of humanity 

Studies show that we have both psychological and physiological responses to what’s happening on the field or court – it affects our cortisol and testosterone levels. It’s the fundamental ‘fight or flight’ survival mechanism that is activated.

Your heart begins to palpitate or your breath shallows. All of that contributes to a feeling of connectedness to others who share the same investment as you. I really miss that. 

Across the globe, sport stars in lockdown have been sharing videos of their home training routines. Some have been taking part in virtual competitions. On Sunday, when the Belgian cycling race the Tour of Flanders was scheduled to happened, riders took part in a virtual race instead. Live video links connected them from their training bikes in their homes. 

Formula 1 has announced the launch of its new Virtual Grand Prix series which will run in place of every postponed Grand Prix. Drivers will line up on the grid along a host of stars taking part in a video game. It’s desperate times for sports fan who are tired of watching ‘Top ten highlights of the decade’ inserts. It’s not quite the same but we will take what we can get as we seek out the syntax of sport. 

But the entire concept of lockdown and being placed in isolation in order to halt the spread of the virus, is that we are fighting this thing together in a combined effort. It is teamwork. If just one of us breaks the chain and doesn’t stay home, it defeats the purpose. So I do find some satisfaction in knowing that we are all in this together, for a common goal. 

It is why across the world from China to Italy to New York and here at home, people have been coming together to sing on their balconies or to jointly applaud frontline healthcare workers. It is our shared sense of humanity that is on show, in appreciation of those who are willing to sacrifice so much for the betterment of others. 

So today, like so many others around the world, we drew and decorated rainbows and stuck them on our gate for all those essential services workers who are still out there on the streets, travelling to and from their jobs.

It made us feel like we were part of something bigger than what was happening in our little universe, beyond the boundary of our four walls. 

Maybe baking banana bread will make you feel the same way. 

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