So, how was it for you, the great Lockdown?
That’s what we’re all going to be talking about for the foreseeable future. And why not? We’re still going through vast, uncharted waters.
How anyone copes depends on their circumstances. So I have to say at the outset that I’m more fortunate than some others. I have a small garden where I can keep a safe distance from my neighbours but still talk to them. I live in a village which has accessible, wide pavements where social distancing has now become routine. People automatically make way for each other. And I’m retired so don’t have the worry of whether I will still have a job at the end of this.
I cannot imagine what life must be like for families closeted together in confined homes with little or no access to the outside.
But I live on my own (albeit with an ageing cat) and normally my life revolves around activities outside the home. Two volunteer jobs, church activities, socialising with friends and shopping. I’m a self-confessed shopaholic, even the prospect of a trip to the supermarket used to brighten my day.
Now I can’t do any of that.
Shopping has become something fearful, to be done quickly so that I can get home away from other people. And no, I don’t do online supermarket shopping. It’s obviously safer but seems to be a great source of stress. Lack of goods ordered, time slots three weeks ahead, missed deliveries. The stories from friends are endless.
So this is how I cope. I make sure I have a daily routine, planning my daily walk so I can say hello to people at a distance. I have a list of household jobs to get through, but pace myself so I don’t run out of them before lockdown ends. The Guardian cryptic crossword keeps my brain active.
I also do some Latin.
Last summer I started learning Latin at an adult education centre and it’s great fun, not nearly as hard as I imagined. In fact, our teacher ends most sessions by saying ‘How easy is Latin’ which inspired me to write a poem about a tasteless casserole which ends with the words ‘How cheesy is gratin’.
Once a week I take part in a pub-style quiz via Zoom with friends from as far afield as Canada, Germany and Israel.
I resist the urge to drown in a sea of chocolate and wine, although I did stockpile that new Scilian lemon gin.
And I speak to friends every day by phone. I have one friend who I used to see about once a week but now we talk every day, even if we’ve nothing much to say. It’s that contact with the outside world which is so important. If you’ve never been on your own 24/7 for weeks on end with no prospect of any change in the near future, then you’ve no idea what it’s like.
I’m not looking for sympathy, just telling it like it is. We’re all going through difficulties at this time, we’re all bored, many of us are lonely, many of us are frightened. But at least we’re alive.
What I’ve learned from lockdown is that people do amazing things in challenging situations, that if you only buy what you need you can save a fortune, and that Midsomer Murders has to be the absolute worse cop show on TV.
So these are my random feelings about the situation.
Anger… wondering if more could have been done to prevent this human tragedy of epic proportions.
Frustration… with our so-called mainstream media.
Despair… at the people who flout the lockdown rules. There were a lot of cars on the roads round me on Easter Sunday, a day when most of the supermarkets were shut. So where were people going?
Disbelief… at the TV weather forecasters sounding so cheerful when they talk about warm sunny weather to come. No, warm sunny weather is bad news because it will draw more people outside. They just don’t seem to get it. And the endless cookery programmes at a time when we’re all trying not to overeat and can’t get out to buy interesting ingredients.
Fear… of contracting the virus and not being able to get help.
Sadness… for all the national events, sporting and otherwise, which shape our calendars but which now are not happening.
And finally, Admiration… for the Herculean efforts being made by all our key workers, for all of the volunteers who are helping others in so many ways, for all those finding new ways to get by in these unprecedented times.