Has anyone else felt lately that this vacuum that we have been in since mid-March has made it increasingly difficult to remember what life was like before the nightmare began..?? When the dreaded ‘lockdown’ restrictions were loosened a few weeks back, many of us had become so institutionalised (and scared rigid) by all the various rules and regulations , that we almost had ‘forgotten’ how to revert back to our ‘old life‘ – but will that be permanent or merely temporary..??
In actual fact, the end of ‘full lockdown’ was simply not the grandiose finale that we had all envisaged. Donning our Air Nikes as we all tried to out-sprint one another to our choice of hostelry. A quick 10 pints followed by a chicken curry. ‘Ah and the great thing is we can do it all again next week…….. Hell we can do it all again tomorrow’, came the cries.
But not so. Whilst undoubtedly busier than they had been between Mid-March and the end of June, our streets were by still by no means packed. Nor our pubs, restaurants, shops, gyms, malls, airports, libraries, cinemas, theatres or football grounds. It was surreal, but also intrinsically quite depressing. It felt then, as it still does now, that we were living in wartime with curfews.
There will inevitably be a large band of people out there who will fear (with some justification) that life, as they knew it, will NEVER be the same again. They will NEVER again enjoy a restrictionless pint, a trip to the supermarket without a full Hazmat suit or even just a bite to eat. How unutterably sad. This will of course create some real mental health problems for many an already vulnerable person and goodness knows where this will leave us in, say, 12-18 months from now. Even those that did not believe they had to question their mental wellbeing may very well do so now.
Already socially isolated from friends and family and feeling somewhat excluded from society at large, it is unimaginable what this virus is doing in ways OTHER than what it can do (and has done) to the body. In excess of 40,000 people have lost their lives and others (who may have survived) have been left with prohibitively long periods of rehabilitation ahead with no guarantee that they will EVER return to ‘full health’.
The pendulum certainly appears to be swinging towards the grim inevitability of a second wave, so what on earth might the next 12 months have in store for us? Unlikely to be anything good, sadly. The pandemic itself isn’t going anywhere soon and certainly will not be ‘over’ until we have a successful vaccine and, let’s face it, that could be a long long way off and, apocalyptically, perhaps never. Therefore, wait for it, we may have to find a way of co-existing with this nightmare. But will ‘things’ ever be the same again? The short answer, one would imagine is ‘no’, although we probably shouldn’t underestimate how much ‘old habits die hard’.
2020 has been, without question, the most unique and cataclysmic year in modern history. The Spanish ‘flu outbreak of just over a century ago is probably closest but there will only be an incredibly small number of people experiencing this outbreak that will also remember that one. It has not proved to be quite the ‘Armageddon’ scenario that was touted 5 months ago, with diabolical predictions of hundreds of thousands of lost lives in this country and life, as we knew it ceasing to exist. (Not that I am in any way trivialising those poor souls that we have lost.) Thank God. But the economic, social, emotional, and physical impact has been remarkable. As a nation, as a world, we have experienced a deep trauma. But we have seen, in comparison to other ‘disasters’, that trauma, not unlike death, is handled markedly differently from person to person. I know of many people who have used the phrase…’I’ve loved lockdown’, despite that seeming to be initially a preposterous statement. Others much less so and for some it will have been a living hell with them metamorphosing from extrovert to introvert, occasional drinker to raging alcoholic and from having a relatively active and mobile lifestyle to almost entirely sedentary with an appalling diet and the only steps they do are around the house.
Add to these the tens, hundreds, thousands who have had not had a vital (early) diagnosis of a serious health issue and a chance of a recovery which has almost certainly diminished if not disappeared. Crikey, we really could be in dire straits here.
Businesses that are closing daily with eye-watering levels of redundancies. Household names calling in the receivers. Economic forecasts that seem incalculable even to those who ordinarily know what they are talking about.
Ultimately though we also have over 40,000 individuals many of whom would not have known that Christmas 2019 would be their last. The hellish experiences for them and their loved ones over the last 20 weeks or so has been the cruelest and most damaging of all. For some of them, how many we will never know, swifter and more robust action would possibly have saved them.
It looked like in early summer that sufficient progress was being made to allow a relaxation of the lockdown rules. But such is the human psyche, a ‘relaxation’ of the rules was not enough for some as they flooded the beaches and the bars and, quelle surprise, a series of ‘spikes’ ensued, leading to further cluster outbreaks and a necessary string of second localised lockdowns. More are surely only now an inevitability with ‘new’ cases and outbreaks popping up indiscriminately and everywhere. The selfish behaviour of the minority, as usual, will spoil it for the majority. ‘Twas ever thus.
The stark reality is that life may possibly never be the same and never revert to what we were used to up until March 2020. That is quite an unpalatable thought.
* Will the wearing of masks EVERYWHERE be mandatory and be law forever?
* Will we require to carry hand sanitiser with us at all times?
* What of ‘social distancing‘..? Will that remain a ‘thing‘…??
* Will confidence always be a major issue for the public?
Quite possibly to all the above.
Whilst we have to be unstintingly vigilant that we do absolutely everything to ensure we do not contract this horrific virus, it is the ‘hidden’ damage that is has done and is doing and the long term sequelae that are also of great concern.
However……………………look at what else has ‘happened’ over the last 5 months….
*No desire to lift a hairbrush or put on anything other than a decent shirt for that Zoom call 🙈
*Some erstwhile ‘high-flyers’ leaving their squillions behind in the big city to move to some remote farm and raise chickens.
*The ability to spend more time with one’s other half and actually discover that you weren’t really sure what they did and what made them ‘tick’ because we’d been so wrapped up and consumed in a crap job with cray pay and crap T’s & C’s.
*Binge-watching Dirty John or Selling Sunset and realising that the £8.99 per month cost of Netflix might just be the best bit of business we have ever done.
*Being able to sit back with a bottle of wine and engage in good quality chat with others – because we had the time to do so.
I’m not so sure that everyone would want to go back to ‘how it was’. I’m fairly certain that I don’t want to.
After every ‘crisis’, where genuine trauma is suffered by the masses, an inevitable (human) reaction is to think that things will ‘never be as they were’. However, most people did not leave New York (or even stop visiting) after 9/11. Whilst commuters in London avoided the underground for many weeks following the terror attacks of 7/7/05, they soon returned in their droves. So maybe keep the faith and when this does finally abate (maybe not until 2022) things, life, will return to that which we last really remembered in March 2020. As I have said, ‘old habits die hard’.
What will be the largest issue preventing us returning to our ‘old ways’ will sadly be the precarious financial position of many occasioned by unemployment and uncertainty.
Life goes on, even though sometimes in the strangest of ways.
‘In three words I can sum up everthing I’ve learned about life: IT GOES ON‘ (Robert Frost, American Poet 1874-1963).‘
* Soul II Soul (feat. Caron Wheeler) – 1989 😉