The Norm Can Conform

The opinions you never asked for on the subjects you're not bothered about.

Adventures of a First Time Buyer – Livin’ La Vida Lockdown

Okay, so 2019 was an absolute chair leg to the toe. I don’t know about you guys but it was definitely my worst year ever – but I won’t go into that. The only way was up in 2020. The start of a new decade, a fresh attitude, and a desperate need to do something new… and then the coronavirus happened and our lives went into lockdown.

Now don’t worry, I’m not here to tell you all how much I’ve achieved during my lockdown. I see enough of that shite on Instagram with people doing their ‘home workout challenges’. It’s not a challenge to do a 15-second Insta-Story situp hun – chill out. It’s the weirdest flex in the world. Like Gemma Collins, I’m here to keep it real. Why? Well, because I honestly have achieved a small step up from “fuck all” during this time. I’ve gone for my daily walks – some longer than others but it’s the only form of exercise I’ve committed to during the lockdown.

So I guess I should start with a quick life update. I lived on my own during the pandemic. Tom moved out the day before lockdown – not because he was trying to escape 😂 it just ended up being when he got the keys to his flat. So that has added a whole new vibe to lockdown. Honestly, I don’t mind living on my own but fuck a duck, doing it when you can’t go out and socialise with friends is honestly a ball crusher.

Oh and like most of you, I was furloughed but Christ on a bike my furlough money was WAY less than I expected because of a shitty government vibe where they counted 2 days I did at the end of December (started my job then) as a full month and it pulled my average wage right down. But this isn’t a money rant – I’m just about surviving and so far I’ve managed to keep up with mortgage payments so I’m alright. But it seemed other people had other things on their minds.

Every adult I know doing TikTok‘s and me:

But I was not going to get in on the TikTok trend. Instead, I took part in more quizzes than I could ever wish to do. Who would have thought that apps like Zoom, Skype, and House Party would be the thing – video calling has been dead for quite some time now. Still, it makes sense that people found these apps useful – but it was strange seeing my friends in person again as I forgot people had legs.

Trying to work during lockdown

Before I went back to work, I (thankfully) managed to convince the company I do food photography for to let me shoot some things from home. 1. So I wouldn’t rip my tits off with boredom. And 2. So I could earn a bit of dollar and not lose my humble abode. I won’t lie, shooting from my kitchen was a huge challenge (mainly for space and lighting) but I think I managed to style it out to the best I could.

Yep – that’s as small as I had to work with. But still, I was quite pleased with some of the end results. Naturally, I couldn’t go to the factory and photograph food for health and safety so I was given countless bags of spices and flour to try and make look pretty.

Overall it was a challenge trying to turn my little kitchen into a studio setup. My house stunk of spices for weeks and I could barely get passed the lighting equipment to cook dinner but I really enjoyed being able to be creative again during a time of unknowing.

My ‘Scarface‘ parody advertising flour for The Dalesman Group

So what else did I get up to during the apocalypse? Not a great deal to be honest – I was more content on avoiding the massive supermarket queues and not looking like a mad toilet paper stockpiling tit.

I turned myself into Geri Halliwell (sort of)

You may remember that I had dyed the perimeter of my hairline a lovely white blonde before lockdown. Sadly without being able to see a hairdresser, my roots got gross and you could no longer tell what my hairstyle was.

The luscious locks pre-lockdown

So what did I do? I dyed it myself. 😬 It wasn’t my smartest idea, but when I was at university I used to dye my hair all the time. Surely it couldn’t be that hard to buy a box dye and just go for it..?

Circa 2011. When I used to dye my own hair at university.

What I failed to remember was that my hair was considerably shorter so I could just apply it like shampoo – not anymore. Nope, I think it’s fair to say I well and truly fucked it up.

The blonde at the front got blonder and the rest went a hideous brassy ginger. I wouldn’t have minded if it turned out like this:

But sadly I think I was less Ginger Spice and more Linda La Hughes:

As you can probably imagine, mother wasn’t particularly thrilled with it so I had to keep trying to tone it and hope for the best. Still, I thought I was pretty lush. I have to be honest though, it really did destroy my hair so I was desperately waiting for my hairdressers to reopen. At least in lockdown, nobody could see how tragic I’d become.

Other than that it’s just been trying to maintain my home and hope that it doesn’t fall over or something. Well, then it happened…

The lockdown storm that destroyed my house (sort of)

Shortly after entering the intense full-blown self-isolating pandemic, a storm hit. No seriously, and a bloody big gust of wind fucked my roof. I just managed to get home as the storm and rain picked up. As I got into my house I kept hearing a noise every 30-45 seconds that sounded like a plate smashing. I looked out of my window and my roof times were coming off one by one.

Honestly, as if this year couldn’t have gotten any worse. First Eurovision got cancelled and now this! My house was slowly falling apart like an underbaked meringue.

As you can see I lost quite a lot of tiles because of this little nightmare. In the world of ‘gay’, my house should have been sucked up into the sky and transported me to a magical land after flattening an old hag with some lush red shoes.

Thankfully my uncle is a roofer and he got his team round the next day to fix it. Big thanks to the guys at Act Roofing Ltd. for getting me sorted again. Since then I’ve had no problems (and the roof survived another intense gale).

More lockdown walks than I can count

Honestly, I’ve probably been to my local park more times during the lockdown than I ever have in the 17 years I’ve lived in Morley. I can’t moan too much, Dartmouth Park is relatively pleasant and open so I never felt in the way of other people and during the excellent sunny weather, it made for a nice walk.

During the intense first 3 months, I did a few socially-distanced walks with my mum who lives down the road. I lived on my own during the lockdown so I craved some form of social interaction. There were only so many zoom calls I could do before I forgot my friends and family had legs.

Organising my house

The big one. My house was in dire need of rearranging and decorating. I knew I had a housemate moving in just after the 3-month stint of isolation so I wanted to try and use that time to get things looking a bit nicer. I also had to try and move a lot of my things around to accommodate my temporary house-dweller.

The most stressful part of my home re-organisation had to be my bedroom. I had to move a lot of things into my room and around the house as my new housemate brought enough things with him to furnish a village.

You’ll be pleased to know that my bedroom has changed drastically since this picture but Christ on a bike, it took one hell of a long time to get this sorted. If we weren’t in a lockdown and a guest came round, they would have put me on Hoarders.

A Brand New Drinks Trolley! (Yes, a second one!)

I also bought myself a sassy little drinks trolley to go into the living room. And believe me, it has been well and truly put to use during lockdown. I’m still yet to find a proper place for it to sit in my house but I’m thoroughly enjoying the fact that I have it.

And especially now while I’ve been isolating, it has become my best friend. 🍸 But it’s not all happy news, some tasks are making me want to rip my tits off.

The bane of my life – The staircase

Before my old housemate moved out, he started painting the bannister and the detail up the staircase. As you can see, he didn’t finish and so it was up to me to try and get this job done. *Spoiler Alert* I still haven’t finished it.

Who would have thought that this would be so unbearable? Me. This is why I didn’t want to do it in the first place. I’m sure it will look good when it’s finished but I still have to tidy up the edges and then add a varnish as Tom bought the wrong paint so it feels quite gritty on your hands – a bit like a chalkboard.

I’ll try and get this polished off soon. I’m having my kitchen renovated next week so hopefully, that will spur me on to get the rest of the house sorted. If I really focus on it, I could have this done in a day – but my brain has just not been functioning at full capacity. The pandemic nabbed a good part of my motivation and left me as a procrastinating shell of a man.

I’ve lushed up the living room

It took me long enough but the living room has been slowly getting tweaked over time. I needed to do something while I was bored out of my mind, didn’t I? I’ve added a big bookshelf and finally got all my fashion books and magazines back from university.

They’ve been living in my parents’ garage for 6 years and I’m honestly so happy they didn’t get damp. I’ve then added all my vintage cameras on top. A plant I salvaged from work during the apocalypse. And the glorious feather showgirl headpiece to the top.

Artwork has finally started going up on the walls. I’ve got my old picture of Queen Victoria, our Lord and saviour Jesus H. Christ, and a photo I shot at university of my friend in a pub. I’m working on a few other little projects at the moment. So hopefully more of my artwork will grace my walls soon!

That’s a wrap

And honestly, that’s about it so far. There’s going to be more changes to the house coming up. I’ll try and get a few shorter posts uploaded as soon as possible. I know I’ve left it far too long before getting this post written and posted so apologies for that.

I will do a separate blog post for the kitchen. There’s probably going to be a whole chunk of stuff happening in that sense. But other than that, stay safe, talk to your friends and wear your mask correctly on the bus because fuck me it gets irritating having to give daggers to old fuckwit tories who can’t get their shit together.

Harry J Bartlett

Digital Content Creator, lover of fashion, drag queen connoisseur and all around phenomenal human being. If I had to describe myself in 3 words I would say; Gorgeous, Talented and Humble.

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