Thursday, 30 April 2020

Why and When to Write

Over the past few days my inability to write anything has been bothering me a great deal. Having committed myself to writing something every day I did so enthusiastically at the beginning of this period of what some are calling Lockdown. I'm not sure why I stopped other than the days began to be sunnier, then busier, then sadder... The thoughts of what to write are always there along with the feeling that I am missing out and missing something by not recording them. But these long and lazy days pass by so quickly, there barely seems to be time to get anything done between the essentials such as getting dressed, touching base with the family, cooking a meal and of course at some point during the day participating in a quiz of some sort.

And then there are the messages of course. Group chats are busier than ever as so few people are "at work". They may well be working of course but perhaps it is easier to pick up a phone and send a funny video or quick message when you're not actually in the office or working on site somewhere. Emails also take up a seemingly disproportionate amount of time, but when it's impossible to have a conversation in person they do provide a pretty good way to keep in touch - especially when the post office is struggling to keep up with deliveries.

I've been updating the blog over on The Kitchen website today. Although we are closed it feels important to stay in touch with customers. I've been receiving probably 8-10 emails a day myself with help and suggestions on how to remain in touch  with everyone and can see the importance. It's been disappointing therefore to see a few folk subscribe from our newsletter this afternoon, having sent it out with  link to the blog. It's left me wondering if the advice to keep a relentlessly positive and upbeat presence is in fact correct.

It's not that we are being negative, we are trying to remain realistic. It's not worth reiterating here all the reasons why we aren't open - they are here for all to see.

When it comes to feelings I find myself with something of a dilemma. Social media is swamped with images of sourdough, banana bread, gin-0-clock and many more of the things which have become associated with middle class "lockdown". I continue to question the idea of lockdown however as what we are experiencing here really is nothing compared to what some European countries have been through. Being unable to leave your home without the paperwork to prove you are on essential business is quite different to the way in which restrictions have been set out here. We can go out to shop, for exercise, to care for the vulnerable. There have been many cases of people taking advantage of this, with examples online and on the news of people giving ridiculous reasons to the police as to why they are on the roads. Politicians have resigned or at the very least come under criticism for visiting second homes and there has been something of a sense of vigilante-ism with people outing their neighbours to 111 for having friends over or sunbathing in a communal space. But there have been no hefty fines, with the police instead engaging and encouraging before enforcing the guidelines. This really is not a lockdown.

It's so hard to think back to how this snuck up on us. Probably two months ago we were laughing and joking about how if alcohol killed the coronavirus we just needed to consume plenty of cocktails and we would be okay. No one is laughing about it now, though there has perhaps been a rise in virus-related humour with the circulation of clever re-writes of Abba classics, expressing the frustrations of quarantine. And of course there have been the many re-writes of songs from Les Mis. And re-writes of The Specials and The Stones... historians will have so much fun analysing how we spent our time when not quite locked down.

Today there will be another news conference. The return of the Prime Minister who himself has been unwell with Covid-19 and just yesterday became a father again. The expectation is that this period of "stay at home, protect the NHS, save lives" is far from over.

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