Well what a weird week. Since the last time I wrote I feel like the world has changed dramatically. I guess that’s because it has.
In the space of a few days everything we thought we knew and understood has shifted, changed and been turned upside down.
This is a tough time and there is a lot of difficult stuff to take in when you turn on the telly or phone stroke your way through social media. In my moments of fear and despair, I’ve been trying to focus on and feel inspired by some of the kind, innovative and creative ways people have responded to this terrible situation.
This week, small business owners and the self-employed have been forced to use their creativity and determination to survive, and have come up with ways of adapting to suit a nation temporarily on house arrest. I imagine lots of these new ideas will continue to bring in revenue and provide services to customers long after the social restrictions are lifted. I hope so.
Within days of this virus being understood as a big deal, my Pilates instructor messaged to say she’d be running an online class instead of meeting up as usual or cancelling. Now, I’ve got work-out DVDs at home. Lots of them. Some are still in their cellophane wrappers. Some I’ve watched occasionally, sitting on the sofa in my gym gear, drinking a cup of tea and possibly even dunking a biscuit (sometimes to get fit you have to first eat all of the bad food in your house, this is a fact universally acknowledged). So I wasn’t really sure how well this was going to work if I’m honest. But this was so different to just putting on some ridiculously comfy clothes and lying to yourself about why you weren’t actually moving. 15 minutes before the class started our group WhatsApp was pinging constantly as more tech-savvy members gave assistance to those of us who annoyed some tech guy in a previous life and are unfairly paying the price in this one. As I took part, I could see smiley faces, love hearts and up-turned thumbs flying over the screen, all showing appreciation for the instructor and somehow making me feel like I should get off the sofa. (Also, I once heard from a friend’s cousin’s uncle that even if your webcam isn’t on, someone from Alexa HQ is watching you, so, you know, I didn’t want to give her any more reasons to talk to me in a condescending tone of voice, thank you very much.)
This cruel virus has also, I think, terrified us all into thinking about and appreciating our friends and family a bit more. I have a lot of aunts. I also have a few uncles and cousins. They’re a fairly wacky bunch of intelligent, funny, in some cases wonderfully bonkers and in all cases very busy individuals. I absolutely love them all. But did I have plans to see any of them this month? Nope! However on Saturday morning I took part in my first ever Zoom video call with 11 family members from across the world! (Ok, one was properly abroad, two were in Scotland, the rest were in England, but I like the way ‘across the world,’ sounds, so I’m once again shamelessly using my ex-pat cousin to make my blog sound more interesting!) The point is, my 4 year old niece got to tell us all that her dad is a, “wee wee poo poo head,” a valid opinion that might have only been shared with her mum and brother had we not been flung into this madness! I’m in a new WhatsApp group with family members whose telephone numbers I didn’t even have until a couple of days ago, and am subsequently now being kept up-to-date on the health and well-being of the wine aisles of various supermarkets across the country!
I’m not saying the coronavirus isn’t terrible. I’ve had lots of emotions this week and have displayed some fairly odd behaviour. I’ve obsessively cleaned all my door knobs and kitchen cabinet handles with disinfectant wipes. I’ve gargled warm drinks and helped spread rumours that may or may not be true about petrol pumps being the villains of this dark dystopian tale. As an asthmatic I’ve googled the likelihood of me dying several times (the answer: no idea). As a first-time mum of a baby whose obsession with licking anything and everything has (shockingly!) led to her getting what is probably just a cough, I’ve called 111 and I’ve visited the urgent care unit with a scarf wrapped round mine and P’s faces. I’ve at least doubled the number of times per night that I creep into her room, listen for breathing, carefully place my hand on her to detect movement, then, on seeing her fingers twitch, freeze, drop, and roll out of the room, preying to escape detection. Depending on when you ask, I’m either feeling pretty relaxed or absolutely terrified by what’s going on around me. But I have truly been amazed at how some people, for whom the coronavirus is aggressively attacking their livelihoods if not their lives, have responded, and have seen and experienced some really creative ways of socialising from a distance. I think that it’s ok to feel good about these things, even though we all wish we hadn’t been flung into this weird scenario. It reminds me that people, on the whole, like people. And that’s a nice concept to be reminded of.
Wishing everyone good health, plenty of loo roll, and lots of distant socialising. Xxx