Judy Garland famously stated ‘there’s no place like home’ and she wasn’t far off the mark. Granted, her statement may have been clouded by the fact that she was accompanied by a scarecrow with dung for brains, a lion who had the backbone of a limp lettuce and a tin man who was in desperate need of a squirt of WD40.

We have all had moments like that. Stuck in alien climes, when something has gone disastrously wrong as you find out for the first time about the clauses in the bullet proof insurance policy you purchased for a pretty penny, as you close your eyes and tap your heels and wake up minus your money belt in a foreign hospital.

The lockdown has forced the two entities of people and homesteads together. At work, we do not choose our colleagues and one bad spanner can upset the smooth running of the engine. Many of us conversely do not generally spend a lot of time at our own ranches, instead treating them as a glorified Travelodge, albeit it slightly more expensive, but with less available parking.

I have come to realise that I like where I live, albeit the deeper I delve, the more I find myself fuming at prior lack of care and attention. The bricks used in building the outside wall were at the lower end of the price range and it is frustrating when sanding paint off an iron waste pipe to find that the previous incumbent didn’t bother about such folly, adding four times the elbow grease for exactly the same end product.

I have noticed the fences are beginning to wane, the driveway resembles an A road after a cold snap, and there is an unsightly mould patch forming in the corner of the bedroom. The imposition of enforceed being at home has, however, given us time to slow down and smell the creosote.

So, with time on our hands and a list of tasks neglected for many a year, now is the prime opportunity to address such overdue jobs. Lists are drawn up and then the reality hits that the only place locally seemingly to sell such stock is B&M and the Range, both of which are not specialists, have limited ranges and involved a 40-minute queue to cross the threshold.

So you go on to Facebook marketplace. Some groups have ‘paused’ online trading groups, through paranoia one may surmise, as supermarkets are still offering stock that may have been browsed and fingered by numerous people. Second hand rubble is now rebadged as ‘hardcore’, well-worn sheds have become prime product, and if you have cement to sell you are the 2020s' crack dealing Howard Marks in receipt of a potential goldmine due to low supply and high demand.

Life on the home front has afforded us time to take stock and get our ducks in a row, it’s true. To make your environment palatable, circumstances permitting, is not only a time filler but satisfying as you peruse the garden of an evening, covered in grime and silt, to admire the handiwork that your kin will enjoy.

Fixing up the home is also a timely reminder as to what you were doing in that life stage. In years to come the question will no doubt be ‘when did we last paint the windowsills and why are they such a funny colour?’ The answer of ‘it was lockdown and B&M had run out of every colour of masonry paint bar fluorescent orange and eggshell blue’ will bring a rush of memories back as to how we felt in this moment in time.

Now for some, undoubtedly, house arrest is hell. Maybe you are looking to leave your current domestic set up, you may have little income, a toxic relationship or kids who are climbing the walls because you don’t have a garden, and for that, I feel for you. But we should all try to take a bit of time to stop and fix that light switch that has been bugging us for six years, clear out the drawer of receipts from 12 years ago or use white wine vinegar on the windows to make them gleam once more. Ultimately, it is activity that will reacquaint you with your environment as you finally come to realise that, even though enforced, there really is no place like home.

  • Brett Ellis is a teacher