I understand that this may be in slightly bad taste and the last thing I would like to do is minimise the devastating effects of a global pandemic but I confess that there are some things I will miss about the lock-down. This is in no way connected to the phone call we received from Aged Parent yesterday informing us that we can now visit her for a socially distanced half hour and, if I thought I heard HOH sighing “Well, it couldn’t last forever” I was probably mistaken.
Peace and Quiet. When the initial call to lockdown came and we all ran scuttling back into our homes, I don’t think any of us were prepared for just what a post-pandemic apocalyptic landscape would look like. But, in the absence of an explosive nuclear wipeout, it looked quite nice. HOH took the instruction to exercise regularly very seriously and I would often find myself being dragged/walking the streets of our neighbourhood at all hours and they were deserted. We are blessed. The photo you see above is about 200 metres from us and to walk this walk everyday or evening was just so perspective-altering and peaceful. Now, it is packed to the drawstrings every hour with people dragging paddleboards out of the back of four-by-fours, long queues for a socially distanced sausage on a roll and children called Quail crying because they keep falling off their new bike.
Gratitude. This was the time when we stopped for a moment and realised what we had. We looked at the workforce and suddenly the heroes were shop workers, delivery drivers, public transport providers, care-home workers and NHS frontliners. Without these people, we would have ground to a halt and, the dramatic but accurate fact is that some of them paid for their service with their lives. We all made rainbow and gratitude signs for our windows and there was a lovely spirit about it all. However, There was also a lot of uncomfortable shuffling about the fact that our new heroes’ pay rates seemed to be set by starting at the bottom of any scale you could mention and seeing if we could go any lower. There have been promises from “Top People” to put that right as soon as is humanly possible. The view from an NHS hero who lives in this house is that no-one at the pointy end is really expecting that to happen. I hope he’s wrong. I suspect he is not.
Re-Assessing. Lots of people have been pushed off the merry-go-round and found that they quite like it. This is a complex issue. Many people have been told to leave work and suspect that they will never get to go back. They are not as thrilled as people called Tarquin are because they have found that they are a dab-hand with the old sourdough. It’s not that they are not pleased for you Tarqs – it’s just that they can’t get past the worries about paying rent, buying food – that kind of thing. But, without ignoring that humongous elephant in the room, there does seem to be a lot of people who don’t want to go back to where they were. People have enjoyed time with families, volunteering is at a massive high and numbers signing in to watch online church services are off the scale. People are on the search for something deeper. It has to be a good thing.
A Why Not Attitude. Even though, as an old person, I may have had palpitations watching people demonstrate on Black Lives Matter marches (I watch these demonstrators walking toe to toe and I keep thinking “Don’t visit your Nan for a couple of weeks love”) I think that the young people especially think that this is a moment and I think Covid 19 may be at least partially responsible for that. In the past, they have been told that this is the way it is and nothing really changes. Well, things obviously do change and seismic alterations to the status quo can happen so why not this and why not now?
These are difficult times. Despite what the behaviour of people who feel that it is ok to arrange a picnic for sixteen with enough beer to rescue several failing local breweries might suggest, there has been no miracle cure. But, many people have lost faith in the government either because of startling hypocrisy which suggests that “Sorry” seems to indeed be the hardest word or just incompetence with a purity that is almost admirable. People are more or less doing their own thing when it comes to lockdown – but, for most of us that means using our own common sense and that seems to be ok.
Am I wrong to think that values may be shifting – just a tad? Has this made us do that thing we used to do as kids when the Go-Kart was going too fast and we used to put our foot out and drag it along the ground to slow it down? Six months ago, it would be hard to imagine us where we are now. There is, I think, a good proportion of people who would like to move forward from this rather than back.