So here we are – Lockdown 2, and if you had a nose in the pop charts in the 80s, you’ve probably got a certain song involving the words Electric Avenue in your head every time you hear that. But doesn’t it feel different this time? Of course it was awful for many people the first time, devastatingly for some, but for many it felt like a huge community effort that reached around the whole world – we were all staying at home for the common good, many facing the same homeschooling, homeworking challenges, searching madly for toilet roll, and embarking on home improvement projects – all in it together.
It really doesn’t feel that way this time. There are a few reasons for that, I think – let me know if you have any more…
Thank goodness. Obviously, if there is cause to panic about the spread of this virus, I don’t really want my children in a situation where they will be exposed to it, but it is such a relief to have them taught by people qualified and motivated to do so. Such a relief. And that means that certain aspects of life are staying just the same – the morning routine, the packed lunches, the school run are all carrying on as normal.
It’s far fewer people this time.
Globally, and here in the UK, we’re not all doing it at the same time any more – entire film and TV industries are carrying on, so we’re not seeing the stars of the silver screen staying at home, just the way we were in #1. Many people who were at home for the first few weeks that time, such as builders, plumbers, cleaners, and nannies, are all going out to work along with millions of key workers. Flights aren’t grounded, and borders aren’t shut. It feels much less like the whole world is locked down than it did last time.
Last time, spring was sprunging up all around us and we had the whole blossomy, frothy beauty of Easter chocolate, May bank holidays and warm June barbecues ahead of us. And so much opportunity for outdoor exercise! Only once a day, so we made it count – long walks in the healthful, fresh air, carrying the promise of warmer days ahead on the breeze. This time, we have unlimited exercise opportunities, but it’s cold and grey out there, and it’s only a matter of time before our next dose of horizontal rain. There are celebrations ahead, it’s true, with Christmas in a frightening matter of single-digit weeks, but these holidays are the ones most characterised by getting together cosily indoors with family and friends, the very type of activity that lockdown excludes.
We know how different our boats are.
I think this time, far more than at the start of the first lockdown, it is starkly obvious that while we are all in the same storm, we are all in very different boats. Some of us have very little adjusting to do as we lock down again, and others are having their worlds turned upside down once more, and even more devastatingly than last time – or they are feeling bereft and lonely again, just as they had begun to feel part of a wider community. We know much more about the effect it’s had on people of all walks of life, and all levels of health and wealth – and how badly a lockdown can impact in so many ways.
It’s easier, but it’s harder. It’s shorter, but in some ways it’s going to feel much longer, and with a far tougher climb back out to the other side than it seemed on 1 July – because we know that we can’t kill this virus in the optimistic matter-of-months we once hoped. And I hope this lockdown does what our leaders hope it will do, so that it’s all worth it in the end.
And this year, I might just be getting the Christmas boxes down from the loft a little earlier…I think we’ll need that light and life more than ever this year.