The idea of another lockdown is unbearable. Our society cannot survive any further destruction of our economy and way of life. I saw how people reacted during and after lockdown. Some sailed on through, enjoying being paid not to work or working from home. None of us thought it would last as long as it did. And I cannot believe we are talking of another out of this without even having gone back to ‘normal’. So many are resisting the call back to work. Aren’t they bored by now? The minute I stepped into the office again it felt like the last 6 months had been wiped away.
As we first began to come out of the initial lockdown, I noticed the springback from those sick of being caged. Rubbish suddenly being chucked around. Unwanted furniture dumped in parks and on the street. Someone driving a motorbike across a field. A fire being lit in a park just for the hell of it. People in the street shouting down mobile phones in public. I was amazed how quick the reaction was.
Some had gone from shopping for relatives to being afraid to go out. So when the lockdown eased they were unable to rally and start going out. Things became fraught at home unless the spring snapped and they stormed out of the house, amazed to then see people calmly walking around. I myself had been unwell and became depressed coped up at home. I started to remember how nice it was to go shopping, and ventured out. It made me so happy, I went again in the evening! Long walks became part of my daily routine in between working, and it was great to see the local high street opening up. Central London has suffered but the local suburban high streets are flourishing. I now enjoy visiting my local high street – something I never used to do. And I’ve realised where I live has some beautiful gardens and parks.
But I worry for the mental health of our nation. We have all questioned our old way of life. We have spent a lot of time at home and no time commuting. But there was nothing wrong with our old way of life except for the overcrowding on the commute and in our cities. Working from home won’t solve that – the overcrowding is still there – just because we avoid it by hiding at home doesn’t mean it’s gone.
We know the initial lockdown was to save the NHS from being overwhelmed. And I am glad we achieved that. An admirable aim. It seems like a lifetime ago now. But once we had achieved that we should have been quicker to bounce back. The time for navel gazing is long over. Why are we still lingering?
Behaviour fluctuates wildly – some wear masks everywhere even in their own cars, some refuse to wear them at all. Do they work? I have no idea. Social distancing I can live with – I quite like not having to kiss, shake hands with, or hug someone I have just met. And handwashing has always been an obsession of mine. But mask wearing I admit makes me feel queasy after a very short space of time. As for the rule of 6 – who made this stuff up?
The lockdown did our old people no good at all. Being separated from loved ones, living alone, not being able to stop in the street and chat, or see grandchildren was terrible. Even healthy older people looked thinner and wan.
So, Priti Patel may think we are going to snitch on each other, acting like spies, and behaving as if we are in a police state (which we may be already according to some) but I doubt if many will comply. Why should we? More successful nations who have a lower death rate and a stronger economy are not living like this at all. We have seen fundamental changes to our way of life. And as I have said, there was nothing wrong with the old way. According to Priti, stopping to chat in the street could be against the law.
We are tired. We are fed up. We are weary of it all. We want to live, to move forward. We must get on. The time is now.
We will not spy on each other. We will not live in fear. We will not be treated like puppets.
It is time to live our lives, and that is what we must do. Before it is too late.