Whisper it softly but I’m actually beginning to like lockdown. My name is Border Belle and I’m enjoying isolation. The lifestyle I’d never have chosen for a moment, which I was horrified to have imposed on me and which I thought I’d chafe against endlessly, is slowly but surely beginning to reveal hidden pleasures which I know I will definitely miss.
As I relax into lockdown it is beginning to exert an almost zen-like calming, healing influence. As I surrender to what is inevitable and begin to zone out of the usual hectic daily run around and embrace an alternative way of existing, I find myself loving this new leisurely pace of life which brings its own simple daily delights and unforeseen compensations. The last time day upon day unfurled luxuriously before me was at the beginning of the long summer holidays. Remember that feeling of summer days stretching out endlessly?
Don’t get me wrong, I want to get back to normal before I forget what normal is. Or was. There is no way I want to live without seeing friends and family as often as possible, kissing hello and goodbye, slipping my arm through theirs when we’re out and about and then collapsing into a shopped out heap with a cup of coffee. In fact, be warned any friends or family reading this that you will be tightly hugged on our first post-lockdown encounter. You may have to tell me to stop.
And that’s because no amount of Teams or Zoom or What’sApp can ever compensate for the unique buzz of actual human interaction. For all the sharing, caring and delicious gossipy frivolity that female friendship means. Not for my generation anyway.
Whilst it’s undeniably true that it’s good for us all to learn new skills (hello Grace and Annabel on Instagram) I’m far too comfortably rooted in the old-fashioned ways of social interaction to make the switch for any longer than I have to. Although, of course, I’ll keep joining in with Grace and Annabel’s virtual coffee get-togethers.
So, whilst I’m adapting better than I thought possible to this pared down existence, this period of enforced quiet and relaxation and life lived in slow-motion, I do miss the life enhancing sheer joy of face-to-face human contact too much to want lockdown to go on and on.
I’m enjoying the almost surreal lack of traffic. No longer do I have to wait for ages to cross the main road whilst being blasted by diesel fumes. A glance in each direction and away I safely go. Apparently, you’d have to go as far back as 1955 to find similar levels of traffic density. Or traffic undensity. 1955 was a good year for many reasons (the hauntingly lovely ‘April in Paris’ by Count Basie was topping the charts back then) but it had also got the level of traffic passing through our small towns and villages just about right as far as I’m concerned.
We’ve been making the most of an exceptionally sunny April by having lockdown lunches and coffees in the garden. Spring is surely the most intensely beautiful time of year and it’s an absolute pleasure and privilege to suddenly have the time to appreciate that dizzyingly blue sky and those verdant greens and yellows as nature effervesces into life. You can’t help but be infused with an almost primal sense of energy and renewal. They can ban what they like but they can’t ban Spring.
Like most people I’ve woken up to who really matters in the big wide world out there. As well as the NHS and Care Workers, I am grateful to the delivery drivers, the cashiers and shelf stackers, the refuse collectors and the transport workers. The list of people we hardly noticed before but who actually (who knew?) keep the whole darn show on the road, goes on and on. We’ll come out of the other side of this with a better sense of who is really important when it comes to the crucial business of keeping our world turning.
And acts of altruism and kindness matter so much more at the moment, don’t you agree? Friends phoning just to ask how you are. Surprise invitations to join on-line groups set up with the simple aim of keeping in touch. Children who decorate their homes with colourful drawings of rainbows for passers by to enjoy. A local family who spent the Easter holiday digging out a garden pond. Now finished and fringed with reeds and irises it has signs saying, “New Homes for Newts” and, “Dragonflies Welcome Here.” It’s impossible not to smile and feel uplifted by their obvious enthusiasm and good humour.
When the Great Quarantine is all over what will you realise that you simply can’t live without? For me, and I suspect for many women, it’s a no-brainer. And it’s not a What but a Who. It’s my wonderful hairdresser Zoë. Whilst I can keep the dreaded roots at bay (thank you L’Oreal) I couldn’t possibly attempt a home haircut. So long-length tresses here I come! And a facial and a manicure will be in very close in second and third places. In fact, a serious spa day will be absolutely at the top of my post lockdown to do list!
In the meantime perhaps we should simply relax and try to reconnect with our inner child and appreciate the positive aspects of lockdown. Remember how liberating those endless summer days felt? As GK Chesterton said, “I can recall in my childhood the continuous excitement of long days in which nothing happened… ”
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