Tuesday 24 March 2020

Splendid isolation?

So it's Day One of social isolation. I feel like I can hear the Big Brother voiceover ringing in my ears, giving a running commentary of life in the 'house' so far. On the plus side, online school seems to be going well for the kids this morning, barring a few technical wrinkles. And the dog has enjoyed more walks than usual as we take turns to sample the sunny freedom in the fields behind our house.

Coronavirus haircuts in the kitchen
Coronavirus haircuts in the kitchen
My God, was it only a week ago that we had friends round for Sunday lunch? The last eight days have felt more like a month as we've watched our freedoms fall by the wayside, felled by an unremitting virus. It is incredible how the apparatus of our society - the education system, our economy, basic human rights - can be dismantled so quickly. And in the end, all it comes down to is life itself, the battle to preserve our little flickers of being.

I appreciate we are only at the start of it (I dread to think how this will feel in a month's time) but so far, we're managing ok in the Notebook household. Human beings are remarkably adaptable. At the beginning of last week, my diary was wiped clean of social engagements. Now it is chock-full of Zoom get-togethers (I had never even heard of Zoom until recently). Where there's a will, there's a way. 

Schools are gearing up for remote learning - I stood back in awe as the two heads of my children's respective schools swung into action last week, reassuring the kids and embracing the challenge of educating outside the classroom, not to mention dealing with cancelled public exams. The demise of the academic year, freighted with all those emotional goodbyes, was squeezed into one unlikely day in March. 

Meanwhile, our front-line workers in the NHS are now risking their lives to keep us safe. A mind-blowing concept for  a country that has enjoyed seventy-five years of relative peace and prosperity. 

Last Friday, I felt myself sinking into a slump as I watched my daughter grow ever more emotional, reacting to the news that her GCSEs had been cancelled and then having to say goodbye to her friends. I also kept thinking of all the other people who are bound to suffer in the current crisis - beauticians, hairdressers, caterers, cleaners, freelancers, people in abusive relationships, vulnerable children - the list goes on.

To scare away my funk, I forced myself do three rounds of the seven-minute workout app on my phone. The next morning, I woke up convinced I had contracted the virus - my rib-cage was aching and tender. It took a few minutes before I realised that too many press-ups were the real culprit for my discomfort. This virus is turning me into a hypochondriac.

But on the bright side...

In a bid to keep my spirits up, I have devised a list of the positives so far:
  • I've never spoken to so many friends in the space of a week - we're all reconnecting like mad with our nearest and dearest
  • community spirit is alive and well - volunteers in my riverside town have acted quickly to throw a safety net under the feet of the vulnerable residents
  • many have re-discovered the delights of the countryside - I've never seen so many (socially distanced) hikers during my daily dog walks
  • spring is on its way and doing its best to bless us with its sunshine
  • my tulip bulbs from last year have made an encore, delighting me with their defiant red petals
  • six months of renovating our house could not have come at a better time - we now have weeks confined to quarters to appreciate the finer details of our new plumbing 
  • my freelance work has dried up so there's going to be plenty of time to catch up with my To-Do List (although I'm still putting it off... been too busy getting to grips with Zoom and talking to all my friends!)
  • I can really get stuck into writing novel number four (although... see above)

I'm sure you can all come up with your own list of silver linings. At this tricky juncture in our lives, it's going to be even more important to focus on the positive. So, Day One in the Big Brother house: the housemates are doing okay. Let's hope it remains that way over the weeks and months ahead. Stay well and hopeful, everyone 😊

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