Lockdown has been decreed, here in the UK, and at first, I felt like I was in one of those paranoid sci-fi films from years ago. The world has completely changed The world is exactly the same.
On the TV, or on social media, endless doom and the ratcheting up of tension, as the world finds itself knocked off its axis with this horrible new threat. But, when I look outside my window, the sun is still shining and the fields are still green, and I still wave at my neighbour as he mows his lawn. I work from home, so I haven’t had to deal with the sudden separation anxiety of being dragged away from friends and colleagues. I’ve heard about how the hospitals are being made ready for what’s inevitably coming from friends and family who work in healthcare, but I haven’t really seen any direct evidence myself. Maybe it’s all overblown, and if I change the channel, I’ll find a happier programme to divert myself with.
But then I went out, and saw the little differences, and it was that that broke my heart. A world at Dutch angles - looking the same, but just ever-so slightly off. I had grabbed a spare dust mask that I found at the back of a garage shelf, and got hold of a box of vinyl gloves – I was ready to kit myself out in order to go to the supermarket to get a few bits of shopping. It was here where it all really came home to me that things weren’t quite right. No-one looked twice at me, as I walked around the shelves in my mask, tightly worn over my face. Trying to be polite, I would smile and step aside for the shop-staff who were scurrying around trying to fill shelves, but I realised that they couldn’t see me smile, and I felt stupid at how pointless the gesture was. Walking out for my recommended exercise, people who I might have said hello to now crossed over to the other side of the road when I came in the same direction on a narrow pavement. It’s all a bit odd.
Then I found a route down to the canal, and walked. It’s quiet there, away from the road, and there’s a tranquillity that did me some good. I realised that, whilst things had definitely changed, there was a resilience there – spring was blooming, ducks swam across the water, butterflies swooped and flittered, and a heron flew overhead. In the fields next to the canal, tractors were still chugging up and down, preparing crops. I spent a few hours walking in all of this.
I’ll be ok. We’ll be ok.