I have made no secret of my anxiety throughout this pandemic and the subsequent lockdown. It was so, so hard for us all, but I’d hope that any reasonable person could see that it was entirely necessary to keep us safe, to save lives.
And yet, more and more, it becomes evident that people don’t seem to care.
I braved the Post Office with the baby in the pram last week. The town centre was marked out for one way pedestrian traffic. Swarms of people however were going the wrong way, not bothering to keep their distance at all. I don’t know how hard it can reasonably be, but oh, the anger really set me on edge. To top it off, I had a cold all weekend so quite frankly, felt miserable.
By Sunday, I couldn’t contain it. I actively avoid news broadcasts because the information we get changes all the time and I cannot see how, when it does, it is to benefit the curtailing of the virus or preservation of life. Call me ynical, but it all seems to be about keeping the pubs open. I’m not naive, I understand the importance of keeping the economy going, but not at the cost of literally catching my death in a queue at the Post Office because people can’t be bothered to wear a mask or keep a 6ft distance.
I am not the most scientifically minded of people and the amount of information and scaremongering that has come with this virus is frankly terrifying. But this week, I heard one of the Government’s scientific advisors say: “Controlling the spread of infection is very simple. Limit your contact with people.”
Talking with one of my closest friends this week, she asked me outright when I last was in physical contact with friends or family. Besides my in-laws who became our extended household when those were allowed in August, I have not seen another soul since March.
Again, I know I’m not unique in that. But you see so many people, hanging out with whoever they like in great numbers, going for dinner, to the pub, no social distancing being practiced, and you get so sick of it. Why must I try, why must I be the one so isolated if no-one else seems to give a damn? I want my life back too. But it seems that mine matters much less than the will of the masses.
It’s infuriating. This same friend is literally the only person I know that I currently feel comfortable letting into my home. Her beautiful little girl, a year younger than Squidge, has complex and chronic health conditions and so I know they have shielded diligently and followed every every confusing rule to the letter as they have emerged.
But we two are not enough to stop this. Her husband is the only one in his workplace taking any action to stop the spread of infection. And it only occured to me yesterday, any action that that poor man takes only serves to protect those around him and not himself, or the beautiful daughter he’s striving not to take this awful virus back home to.
It’s horrifying and and I just feel so damn powerless. And on Sunday, I completely broke down. Full on can’t-breathe, don’t-really-know-what-I’m-trying to-say-but-it’s-coming-out-anyway ugly crying. Both girls were in the room and Kev had to order me out to calm down so they did not see. I cannt articulate myself well when I’m overrun with emotion like that and I sobbed in the bathroom very loudly for 10 minutes or so, having to talk to my snotty, sobbing reflection in the mirror to remind myself that this awful situation is not of my making, it is not my fault and I am, and can only, take responsibility for myself.
When I could breathe again, I sat with Squidge, who enquired why I was crying. She is never unsurprised when any question now is invariably answered with “because of the coughs and sneezes”. In fact, it answers so much now that it’s almost laughable.
It’s why she has to have her temperature taken before gym, why her beloved playgroup isn’t open yet, why we won’t go to soft play or swimming. It’s everywhere and it’s limiting everything.
I reminded Squidge that she and her sister were my biggest happiness and she was to remember that whenever I am sad, that she has the power to make me happy and that she is never, ever the cause. She threw her arms around me, squeezing me to make me smile and I felt peaceful again. The wonder of that child.
And then, the next day, more local lockdowns were imposed. In fact, we are now one of just 2 counties free from restriction in the whole of our region. We don’t expect it to stay that way for long.
Except, what do the restrictions actually mean now? You can still go to work if you must, you can still go for dinner or a drink in your locality. But extended households must end, no indoors meeting with loved ones.
I honestly think my head might just explode with it. Because on the Sunday, when all I could do was cry and shout “I don’t want to do this anymore”, what I meant was, I wanted to stomp out of the house like I’d do in times of old and I wanted to go an sulk in the pub on my own with a glass of wine. I’ve never done the latter, but it sounded like a peaceful idea.
Except, in times of COVID-19, when I’ve caught a bloody cold two weeks running because I dared to go outside at last, to be normal and do normal, boring errands like I used to, I couldn’t even drink the wine if I wanted to, because alcohol makes my nose stuffy anyway so with a cold would be 10 times worse. I can almost guarantee the pub would have been too full, with people sitting too close. So the pub’s our, either on my own or as a sneaky Sunday afternoon with Kev.
Because his parents are always keen to have the kids. But we can’t go, because what if we pick up this nasty bloody virus and give it to his vulnerable parents? No-one’s thinking of my husband’s parents when they’re on their 5th pint are they? They just wanted to go to the pub and hey, why not, they’re open!
So, if a local lockdown is imposed on our county, I have so far learnt that:
Squidge can probably still go to nursery (thank God!) but probably not the gym class she loves so much.
We won’t be able to sit in my in-laws lounge or ask them to watch the girls for us, but we could meet them in the pub and what, leave the girls there?
I can still go to my physio appointments in the neighbouring locked-down county. (I am so relieved, I nearly cried when I heard about the lockdown, because it’s been nearly 7 months without this input and I feel it every day day, but honestly, how is it OK?)
I can go out for the dinner I won’t go out for because I don’t want to risk infecting the family I can’t see.
Tradesmen can still work on my house if they’re healthy. (I will be taking full advantage of this one. If the world out there isn’t worth engaging in, then the one in here is surely worth the efforts! But I swear, if they try and say the cleaner has to go again, there may well be another meltdown!)
How… How is any of this logical? Even typing it now I can feel my head starting to spin again. Reports of panic buying and supermarket delivery slots being booked out again are rife and I feel like I’m just here, banging my head against the wall because NOTHING HAS CHANGED.
That’s not strictly true. Mercifully, death rates are down. But people dying in huge, horrifying and unncessary numbers has not been enough for the masses not to feel entitled to congregate on the beaches or at house parties. Behaviours haven’t changed and the pandemic has shown the true, ugly, selfish colours of society.
My heart is broken and my blood pressure is through the damn roof. I don’t want to have to live through this again. The uncertainty, constantly telling my beautiful Squidge, who washes her hands and catches her coughs in her elbow with more diligence than 99% of the adult population, that she can’t play, or go to gym or see her friends, because the grown ups that should know better than her don’t care enough about her worth to facilitate any of the things she loves.
The cycle can only be broken, infection can only decrease if people use their damn common sense. But I fear it is all gone. Stupidity and selfishness is the new world order. Then watch these awful people harp on about how others, be it Government or just me and you, didn’t do enough to inform or protect them.
If I can understand that all it takes is LESS – Less touching, less parties, less spluttering all over someone in the supermarket, less going to the office ill to spread your lurgy about, (I have ALWAYS hated the selfishness of this – stay the fuck home!), less entitlement and invading of personal space, then honestly, no-one has any business claiming they don’t know what to do for the best.
The ever changing Government rules do, I grant you, seem illogical. But that’s not the point and it doesn’t excuse anybody. Because if you can’t grasp the very basic need to keep a distance and to not spread your germs around, then all you are doing is showing yourself up to be a selfish moron. It’s because of these morons that local lockdowns are becoming so widespread and necessary.
I’m not sure I believe they can prove effective – see above rant re: selfish morons – but I at least appreciate the need to try.
I can only hope the county holds strong. Wish us luck, because I am barely reconciled with building a new world as it stands now. I’m really not sure I can bear to go backwards again, not least of all for my resilient, beautiful and deserving Squidge.
To quote my beloved Bon Jovi (and probably lose all credibility in the process, but I don’t care, I love them!)