Gorgeous Spring weather is here but the lockdown to prevent the rapid spread of Covid-19 continues. So many in the UK and worldwide are horribly constrained by the lockdown and I am fortunate that I can continue to enjoy this wonderful Spring.
There are arguments raging as to whether the UK lockdown was aggressive or early enough, about how long it should last and how it should be relaxed over time. Given the evident lack of testing and tracing capability, and the paucity of vital protective equipment available to health care workers, it seems to me that the lockdown should have been implemented much earlier.
I wonder why our Prime Minister was openly glad-handing others so long after the infectiousness of the virus was clear, and why did the Cheltenham race festival with its 100,000 racegoers take place in mid-March? Given that a pandemic was an obvious risk, why did we not have more equipment in our stockpiles in anticipation?
Now we have ‘let the cat out of the bag’, as it were, it looks like getting it back under control is going to take an extended period of social and business restrictions. That is already creating huge economic and social problems. Loneliness, anxiety, depression are all bound to increase. Worries about domestic violence, money, entertaining and educating kids, and many other unplanned problems are mounting for many. It is hard to imagine what life in the UK might be like in a year or so if the lockdown cannot be relaxed significantly by then.
Meanwhile, I continue to be one of the lucky ones. I haven’t contracted the virus and don’t know anyone personally who has suffered badly from it – yet. I don’t have to work or travel any more. I live in the country and so can still get out and about without needing to worry about social distancing while outdoors. Indeed, the countryside is splendidly empty of people, vibrant with wildlife and looks lovely in the fullness of what has been terrifically consistent Spring sunshine.
I am maintaining my 15,000 steps a day average by finding ever more extravagant detours into the surrounding rural wilderness on my way to the newsagent in town. This walking, in combination with a steady reduction in alcohol intake over the last three months (in line with my New Year resolutions) has got my weight down close to my target. That, plus plenty of gardening, is improving my overall health and readiness to take on Covid-19 if and when it hits me.
My days are surprisingly full. There is so much music to listen to and so many box-set series TV to watch (I’m loving Trigonometry and Devs on the BBC at the moment). There are so many books on my ‘To Be Read’ shelf still (I’m half way through Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan and enjoying that). I play games on my mobile; I am keeping my empire in Forge of Empires going and gradually improving my battle technique in Clash of Clans.
Yet these are all just fill-in activities around the main, constant structure of almost every locked down day (Sunday is still a slight exception). Tea in bed is followed by leisurely breakfast. Then there is the round-about walk into town for the newspaper followed by digestion of its main stories. Then I make a salad lunch which is followed by the first game of Monopoly Deal of the day with Long-Suffering Wife (LSW) and Youngest Son (YS).
Most afternoons I work in the garden – there are simply more jobs in the garden than I can fit into the time and my reserves of energy – or I spend an hour or two writing this or moving forward the village Neighbourhood Plan and Climate Action Network group.
I stop to follow the daily government briefing on Covid-19 at 5pm. It’s repetitive but worth listening to, I think, for the subtle attempts to re-write history and the almost obsessional denial of any mistakes. Those denials are even with hindsight and in the knowledge that no-one could get the response to the pandemic entirely right. Indeed, there may be no ‘right answers’ and certainly none we can discern yet. YS still can’t get over how much I chunter on to the radio with my moaning about politicians.
If it is my turn to cook then I’ll spend an inordinate amount of time preparing for that. I’m finding that while recipes are invariably right about cooking times, they underestimate preparation time (by me, anyway) by 300%.
Finally we will eat and then play another game of Monopoly Deal before retiring to the TV room. The day is crowned with another railing against politicians on the television evening news and then its reading in bed and sleep.
Special events rarely disturb this pattern. LSW and YS have deemed Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays as ‘drinking days’. On these we often lap up the privilege we have of a garden to retreat to, by taking a bottle of wine up to the fading warmth of the setting sun at the top of our field.
The Thursday ‘Clap for Carers’ has become an increasingly important interlude and is now accompanied by a neighbour playing ‘Somewhere Over The Rainbow’ proficiently and commendably on saxophone. Also a new virtual, monthly village quiz has kicked off; I’m scheduled to arrange the May occurrence so preparation for that will fill a rainy day or two.
There seems to be so much to do. I do hope we find a way to end the lockdown soon but it has helped me fit all these local activities in.