We all did things when lockdown hit that we wouldn’t have dreamed of doing beforehand, most of them perfectly sensible. We stayed in our homes for months on end; we wiped down our groceries before packing them away; we wore face masks whenever we moved past the front doorstep; we completed a regular Healgen Antigen test to prevent the spread of the virus.
These were all sensible, considerate things intended to protect ourselves and our loved ones, but that can’t be said of everything that happened in lockdown. It may have been a hard time for all of us, but for the jokesters, the eccentrics and the over-imaginative, it was also an opportunity to let their beautiful madness loose.
Some were funny, some were sweet, all were downright bonkers. Now that the days of social distancing and conducting a Covid-19 test are almost behind us, let’s have a look back at some of the weirdest things people did in lockdown.
Dressed up their dogs
We may have hated lockdown, but our pets loved it.
With no one going out to work or socialise, our dogs, cats, hamsters and budgies had us all to themselves. They relished the increased attention, love and cuddles, as well as the daily government-mandated walk. But a few pets came to realise that there might be such a thing as too much attention.
That may be the case with Hank, a Newfoundland in Northern Wisconsin, whose two owners, Adam and Hannah, took to dressing him up in different styles every day before sharing the efforts on social media. Using a combination of their own clothing, jewellery, soft toys and household junk, they transformed Hank into a fortune teller, a cow, a Flintstone, and Joe Exotic from Tiger King, among others.
It bought joy to the thousands of followers following his Instagram account, but how did Hank feel? Apparently, he loved it too, seeing it simply as more cuddle-time, and kissing his owners the entire time. Dogs truly are too pure for this world.
Donned fancy dress
It wasn’t just the animals that took to dressing up, more than a few of us did too!
While for most, lockdown was an opportunity to throw all our office wear and party gear into the back of the wardrobe and spend a few months dressing exclusively in jogging bottoms and pyjamas, a few brave souls upped their fashion game tenfold in order to bring a little happiness to both themselves and others.
Take Jon Matson, a postal worker from Boldon. Jon is a man who loved the excuse his job gave him to get outdoors and interact with his neighbours. When the virus hit, he decided to do something to counteract the fear and anxiety he noticed in his community. So, he dug out the dressing up box, and the rest is history.
Throughout lockdown the good folk of Boldon would head to their front windows to see who would be delivering the post that morning. Would it be a knight in shining armour? An American cheerleader? Wally from Where’s Wally? Or even the Queen of the Nile herself, Cleopatra? No, it was only Jon, delivering joy and smiles alongside his letters and parcels.
Zoom, Microsoft Teams and other video conferencing apps were a lifesaver during lockdown, allowing us to have much-needed face to face time with our isolated friends and family, and helping many businesses to do the work they needed to stay afloat while their employees worked from home.
But one of the unforeseen side-effects of the rise of the video call has been the accidental filter. This little option is a bit of silly fun designed to make virtual hangouts with friends more amusing. It is not designed for serious office meetings with your employees or boss.
Yet for a few unfortunate individuals, that is where the app betrayed them. Lizet Ocampo, national political director for the progressive advocacy group People for the American Way, hoped to inspire and motivate her employees during their Monday morning meeting over Microsoft Teams. Instead, she accidentally activated a filter that turned her into a talking potato, and the meeting dissolved into half an hour of cackling.
Then there was the Texas attorney who appeared at a virtual hearing as a fluffy kitten (“I’m not a cat,” he asserted. We’ll let the courts decide). Perhaps lockdown has made us more infantile, or perhaps it’s just hilarious.
Recreated their favourite hangout
We all missed restaurants, shops and cinemas during lockdown, as we were stuck in our kitchens alone day after day. Most of us just grumbled and put up with it, or turned to takeaways for our meal-out fix. But for some, this was simply not good enough.
Thus came the rise of theme dinners. Italian night, Fish and Chips night, even – if you’re comedian Tina Fey and her family – airline food night, complete with eye masks and flight attendant uniforms.
The people who went the furthest with this though has to be Tik Tok star Mia Finney and her father Ernest. In order to save his daughter from the lockdown blues, Ernest transformed their California home into her favourite hangouts, such as Starbucks and McDonald’s.
Starbucks cups with her name on them, recreated McDonald’s uniforms complete with golden arches logo, French fries, milkshakes and coffees. Ernest’s attention to detail was immaculate, and his reasoning as sweet as a Starbucks cookie.
“It’s terrible what’s going on with COVID-19 right now, but with any terrible situation, there’s always a silver lining, and that is that I get to spend more time with Mia.”
Turned to local wildlife for entertainment
‘Nature is healing’ became a common adage, and even a meme, during lockdown.
As we humans retreated to our homes, the animals took to the streets, often with impressive results. Who could forget the sight of dolphins swimming up Venice’s Grand Canal, free for the first time in decades of both boats and pollution? Or deer in the streets of Scottish Highland villages? Or birds in the newly clear skies above Shanghai?
These were awe-inspiring, humbling sights, but the natural world also provided us with some much-needed comic relief, sometimes aided by we humans, weirdos that we are.
After loosing his job in the pandemic, Pennsylvania man Rick Kalinowski dedicated his buckets of free time to building mini picnic benches for the squirrels around his home. The sight of squirrels enjoying a bowl of nuts while sat at a table gave people online a few chuckles, but Rick had the last laugh, turning it into a successful business. His Etsy store, SquirrellyTreasureCo, received 400 orders in its first 24 hours.
Put on a show for the neighbours
The onset of a deadly global virus gave us a newfound appreciation for our neighbours both local and around the world. We clapped essential workers on their way to work, we did grocery shopping for the elderly and vulnerable, we donated money to keep small businesses afloat. But some of us decided that what their neighbours really needed in these difficult times was a little levity.
Enter Ted and Ed, two giant teddy bears in Stockport. Known as ‘The Moors Bears’ on Facebook and Instagram, they appeared in the front garden of their owner’s house every day performing tasks that, while mundane for the average human, were decidedly weird for the average bear.
They mowed the lawn, had a civilised breakfast, enjoyed a spa day, chopped up wood, did the ironing and gave the grass a good hoover. It might seem like a harmless bit of eccentric fun, but it led to a stronger bond between the neighbours, especially local children who were separated from school and friends.
Lockdown was a weird time, and it brought the weirdness out in all of us. And that, in the end, was what made it bearable.