Reflecting On A Year In A Bubble
When Boris Johnson announced a National Lockdown on 23rd March 2020, most people thought it would all be over in about three weeks. And many complained that three weeks was a long time to put our lives on hold. There were a few of us who thought it might go on a bit longer. But I doubt if anyone thought we would be commemorating the date one year on, while still living under most unusual circumstances.
Tomorrow, we mark the date with a National Day of Reflection. We remember the hundreds of thousands who have died, not just in this country, but around the world. We commiserate with those left behind, many of whom missed the chance to say goodbye to their loved one. And we think about the millions whose lives have been disrupted, some temporarily, some permanently.
Few families are untouched. We have lost friends and family during the past twelve months; not to Covid, but still forced by restrictions to behave differently from ‘normal’. And at a trivial level, all our plans for the year: holidays, social gatherings and literary festivals were cancelled. Just like everyone’s. In my lifetime, I don’t remember any other circumstances that have affected the whole country, in fact the whole world, in this way. Thankfully, I was not alive during WWII, but I imagine that was the last time everyone was drawn together in this way.
But not everything about this past year has been terrible. There was a period, in the first couple of months, when the sun shone every day from a bright blue sky empty of aircraft trails. When our early morning walks were silent, due to the lack of traffic on the nearby A38. When we realised just how wonderful a community we live in; and how generous people can be with their time and their resources.
I realise I am very lucky. I live with one other person; our relationship is solid. But if we do need to keep apart, there is space in our house to do so. Lockdown has given us time to grow (some) vegetables; to cook more; eat and talk together more. I have no dependents to worry about. And with technology, we have kept in touch with friends and family. Many of the meetings I’d planned to attend in person went ahead anyway over Zoom.
I do not want to trivialise the current situation or the past year. I know how hellish it has been for many people. And tomorrow I will join in the minute’s silence at noon. I will light a candle at 8pm. And I will reflect on all the losses from the past year. But I will also reflect on the positives that have arisen during our Year In A Bubble and hope at least some of them will continue when we finally get back to normal – whatever that means.