As a co-founder of this blog it is fair to say I have neglected my commitments to providing updates. I am really pleased others in the group have found the will to carry on and write something. Collectively, those residents on the street helped form a month – 31 days – of unbroken commentary and I think that was quite an achievement. I also wonder if we were exhausted, or had exhausted all aspects of lockdown life. Only in recent days have a wondered if if was time to find space to blog away. I was delighted other writers had added updates the site. Firstly because I always like reading the posts, but secondly that the project was not dead. That people still had things tom say.
My update is one of hope not despair. I am about done with letting negativity cloud my thinking. Watching the easing of lockdown has been tough and stressful. People blatantly flouting rules (or carrying on as they did before in many cases) makes me angry and sad. The government has been increasingly disappointing in its messaging and today the Prime Minister had to explain why special advisor Dominic Cummings should not be fired for his breach of the lockdown rules. I know this has upset a lot of people. Boris knows that Cummings know where the bodies are buried. But let’s not get dragged down by that.
My kids are due back in school on June 1st. I do not intend to send them and entertain the publicity stunt that is schools reopening to a fraction ton of the school, for a handful of weeks until term ends. Because I now feel if we want to get through all this we need to work around the government, not with them.
I’m looking to the positives on Day 62 and my biggest sense of positivity and hope comes from witnessing how people have pulled together (while being apart) helped others and supported local businesses. It’s been good to see Jamal’s taking orders, people buying pints of beer in cartons from West End Brewery and socially-distanced queues at Currant Affairs. I think this support to small businesses by the community might make all the difference when the country rebuilds. Then there’s the army of people making PPE, sewing face masks and collecting for foodbanks, these people are making the best of lockdown and and doing something really positive.
Finally one last positive is the sheer number of humiliating memes and posters being pumped out on social media. Not only do I find them funny, it reminds me that that there are probably millions of us who think and feel the same way about what is happening. So no need to Stay Alert, but stay positive and keep doing the right things. Work around this government, not with with them
My attempts to keep fit and stay in shape in lockdown may have backfired. This morning I was on course to run 100 miles in April. After completing a six-mile jog this morning, the goal is now in tatters. It did occur to me when I set out at 9am that I didn’t run 100 miles in a single month during my London Marathon training. Now it would appear that I’ve overdone it and left myself with a knee injury. I had a sore knee when I set out and jarred in New Walk on the way home. And it feels like a bad one. I had until Thursday to get to 100 miles and that should have been smashed with two morning runs. Now I am going to have to sit it out. Incidentally, it would’ve been London Marathon 2020 today so it was a good day to get injured I suppose.
A bad knee is a little frustrating because one of the few things lockdown has given me is time to balance my working day with making sure I got some exercise. For those who use Strava, the running app, my outputs since Lockdown day one March 23 went up by more than 10 miles a week, just by using my daily allowance of ‘Borisercise’. Now I’m going to have to put my feet up, which is all too easy to do. I’ll definitely try some walking to keep myself active and hope that after a week things will feel different.
The strangest thing is that before lockdown I did not take running seriously. I either went running or I didn’t and I did not care. The lockdown has enabled me to get my act together and get some training momentum (even though I was training for nothing. Hopefully I’ll get back out there soon, but more fundamentally I’m thinking how I can carry on this positive development of finding time to exercise during a demanding weekly work schedule into the post-lockdown era – whenever that may be.
The weekly ritual of celebrating the NHS never fails to draw people onto the street. I took this photograph from the velux window in the loft. I did my best to show all those who came out and make some noise for our brilliant key workers. What the image doesn’t capture is the sound – lots of chatter, cheering, a random firework and the bells of St Ursula’s Chapel in Wyggeston’s Hospital. It’s always great to see the solitary of the street and is becoming an important marker in the weekly lockdown routine.
I went out to the back of my house and saw an amazing red sky:
Things like this make lockdown life a little easier to get through.
Following on from Day 20’s podcast, in which Mark and I discussed my current obsession with the 1980s and 1990s and whether Mark has been dreaming, we turned our attention to 70’s music (especially The Bee Gees), our views of labour (alienating or purposeful), the number of cars on the Hinckley Road in Leicester as a measure of desire for herd immunity, and the potential for democratic planning rather than competition. Fun, huh?!
The lure of social media is killing my lockdown days. I do love Twitter, Instagram and Facebook but I have found I am on my phone all the time seeing what has changed in the world, or whose statuses are providing food for thought. On reflection I have come to realise that 99 per cent of time, nothing has changed and the statuses providing food for thought are turning my brain to pancake batter.
The worst of these social media ‘updates’ are based around asking you for your Top Five and then being tagged in like your opinion some how counts. Top five albums, top five footballers, top five pizza toppings and so on. When I get tagged in, I do the honourable thing. I ignore it. No one is using the Top fives to dish out some home truths. So if you are reading this and fancy doing a Top Five, do a Top Five of the worst things about Coronavirus lockdown. If you like bad news, you’ll love this. Consider yourself tagged.
Here’s my Top Five worst things about Coronavirus Lockdown:
Politicians – predictable but with few exceptions from world leaders to UK party leadership, politicians have been utterly useless. It’s not all bad news -thanks to politicians, the UK and the US are now the best in the world in something – spreading disease.
Voters – yes, I’ve seen you out clapping across the country for the NHS on a Thursday night. You make a racket as if somehow makes up for you voting for the man who tried to sell the NHS to the US just weeks ago, the man who voted against nurses’ pay rises and then promised them £350m a week in return for being Prime Minister only to admit he was lying. Put your pots and pans away you hypocrites, the NHS doesn’t want to hear your support, it needs investment and you blocked it.
News – Are all current journalists hopeless? Or do they work for media organisations that do not want to hold the Government to account?
People – yes, people. People in lockdown sunbathing in parks, heading to the coast, flouting the rules, not moving over on paths to keep the distance – including cyclists who still ride on pavements when the roads are empty.
Brexiteers – Because they still think they are right, even though coronavirus has left us exposed, a tiny island with no friends, apart from the one no one wants right now.
“When will we see the sea again?” That was a question posed by one of my twins this weekend. It was a fair question. We were supposed to be seeing the sea. Instead they got socially-isolated walking in Western Park. I can’t begin to imagine how my boys are seeing the world right now. They hate the socially-isolated walking because the things they have seen and heard make them want to avoid everyone and not leave the house.
In an effort to get them outside, and also to avoid people, we took an early morning walk through Western Park. What I never really appreciated was the vastness of the space we have just off Hinckley Road. This map taken from the council website shows how you could easily take a long walk there:
I feel bad that we have missed a family holiday and my boys won’t see the sea this time but I’m appreciating what we have nearby, finding new places to walk and, most importantly, staying healthy.
Good Friday was my first full day of holiday/break from work since the ‘lockdown’. I say ‘lockdown’ as I’m convinced more draconian measures are coming our way as some idiots complete to flout the social distancing rules. I have spent my Easter break wisely. Getting drunk and watching films about music. I previously wrote about Blinded by the Light – the story of an Asian kid who fell in love with Springsteen, which was brilliant. Then I started London Town, a ludicrous film about a boy who drives a London black cab at 14 without getting caught and somehow befriending Joe Strummer of the Clash. Then I watched Yesterday, a film about what life might have been like if the Beatles has not been a global musical force. Then I finally started ‘The Future is Unwritten’, the life of Joe Strummer, in a late attempt to understand the genius of The Clash, or otherwise. They are sounding better the more I get to understand them, but the greatest sound I heard this weekend was the birdsong in Western Park:
Following on from Day 8’s podcast, in which Mark and I discussed the genesis of The Coronavirus Diaries, we return to discuss the project and diary entries we have received so far. On the way, we discuss my current obsession with the 1980s and 1990s, the music of The The, whether Mark has been dreaming, and applauding key workers whilst looking out for the international space station.
I watched a beautiful film tonight called Blinded by the Light. It is a story of an Asian guy about my age who got hooked on Bruce Springsteen in the 80s. It was the start of his personal development that took him away from a strict family upbringing of Pakistani heritage and ultimately bought him a ticket out of Luton. I was so absorbed actually forgot we were in a coronavirus crisis. I am not a Springsteen fan, although probably should be on the basis of the film. It reminded me a lot of my own upbringing, growing up in my own environment but escaping to university to get the f*** out of Dodge. I think a lot of people will connect to it. It was unexpectedly brilliant. I am sure the film will mean lots of things to lots of different people.
‘Boris Johnson entering into intensive care as a result of his coronavirus is a jaw-dropping moment. If the person tasked with keeping the country safe, cannot keep himself safe what does that say about the crisis we are in?
I’ve already seen gushing praise for the Prime Minister from well-wishers and some unsavoury comments about what might happen should things escalate.
Personally I wish him a speedy recovery, as I would any covid-19 patient. I suppose once he is well I would hope this is a game-changing moment that would force him to reflect on his failed plan and change tactics.
For the premier to learn the hardest of lessons like this could go on to be an extreme moment in politics.
Some of my friends say someone as selfish as Boris deserves no sympathy and I’m inclined to agree. I also fundamentally disagree that his life is worth more than anyone else’s. Therefore I hope he recovers and takes a long, hard look at himself to recognise how the NHS has saved him and countless others. It has saved him despite his continued crushing support for Tory austerity policies that have battered doctors, nurses and staff. They saved him despite his inexplicable love of Brexit at any cost that has seen European medical staff and cleaners and porters and so on who form the backbone of the NHS leave the country en masse.
While I am angry at how things have played out with Brexit and the Coronavirus, I wish the PM a full recovery and hope he gets a second chance to put things right, a decent pay rise for all NHS staff would be a start.