Three weeks ago I went to Manchester. I took my mum out for an early Mother’s Day lunch, booked a hotel room to myself, shopped, walked around in the glorious sunshine, admired the local street-art and caught up with some of my oldest girlie friends, where I got so squiffy that my hangover took several days to subside.
And then, the apocalypse seemingly happened.
It is always easy to sympathise, but equally as easy to be nonchalant when awful things are happening in a different part of the world. Despite the rapidly growing numbers of people affected and the increasing panic as Coronavirus cases arrived in the UK, it didn’t really hit home until the last ten days when the process of shutting everything down in Birmingham began.
The last few weeks have been… strange. Businesses have closed and people all over the country have been left without a source of income, supermarkets became battle grounds as panic buying took over and shelves were left completely empty (The Bloke actually witnessed an argument in Aldi about bananas) as intelligent and sensible people suddenly forgot that they weren’t the only people in existence. And yet, when social distancing was implemented it was clear that a number of those same people remained dismissive of a what is a serious situation – taking the instructions to stay at home as more of a guideline instead of a necessity and treating self-isolation as a holiday (unbelievably there were fitness classes going on in the park near my house after the building in which they are normally held in closed).
As someone who works online, I initially found it difficult to maintain a level of positivity and self-motivation amidst the consistent level of toxicity of my home feeds that were predominantly made up of nonsensical petitions, fictitious stories and general yelling into the abyss.
However, as full lockdown has been implemented and many are beginning to acclimatise to their new situations, the general mindset seems to have shifted to something far more positive, particularly in the importance of family and sense of community with acts of kindness happening everywhere. I have been moved to tears on more than one occasion with videos that have been shared of great things that others have done, and laughed out loud at the ingenuity and creativity of families who have produced some truly hilarious content while they are self-isolating. Support for the independent businesses of Birmingham has continued with the #ISupportBirmingham hashtag and Go Fund me accounts. In the town where I live the food banks have been inundated with items, I have received several cards through the door with the contact details of people offering their time to go and get groceries should I be housebound, my teacher friends are offering their services to parents who are homeschooling their children, and houses have positive messages stuck on their windows. The social media posts are slowly beginning to change from shouty ‘Stay at home!’ to a much more positive ‘How is everyone?’
I am reminded daily of how lucky The Bloke and I are. We are both safe and well, have both continued to work from home and I have genuinely enjoyed spending the extra time with him. The cat has acquainted himself with Zoom and has actively participated in meetings by sitting next to me on the couch and staring into the computer as if he has something to contribute. We have exchanged texts with our lovely neighbours to check on their well-being, and I have been able to continue my fitness classes with my instructor in the form of online sessions. It has also emphasised a number of things about how we live and what is important.
The highlight – for me at least – has been the acknowledgement and appreciation for those who are key workers. My mum works for the NHS and is understandably in an incredibly stressful situation. I have been worried not just for her health, but also for her safety after reading that a number of NHS staff have been robbed for their ID badges. She text me the other day to tell me that a random stranger paid for her petrol at the station, and when she went to the supermarket she was moved to the front of a long queue and the cashier paid for a bar of chocolate as a thank you, which made my day. On Thursday night the whole country showed their appreciation by participating in ‘Clap for Our Carers’ (fabulous idea, terrible hashtag) and a large amount of our street stood at their doors and windows clapping and cheering. It lifted the spirits, restored my faith in humanity and made me proud, even more so when I read that 650,000 people have volunteered to assist the NHS.
Stay safe and well, everyone.
What about you guys? What have you been doing while self-isolating?
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