At the end of lockdown week 15 we are used to being told to social distance or even better to stay at home and not see anyone. Suddenly we can go out, go to pubs, even go on holiday. But we don’t want to. For many, this period of stasis has been enjoyable enough to now present an unexpected problem – FOMLO, or Fear of Missing Lockdown. Of course, so many have struggled terribly, losing loved ones, or lives and jobs and plans going up in smoke. For others, however, the pandemic has produced a wholly different experience.
Now that lockdown is lifting are we still scared of either getting Covid-19 or passing it on to someone we love ? Covid-19 has not disappeared, it is still lurking. Yesterday 89 people died of it, and the day before over 180 – nearly 270 families grieving for the loss of loved ones.
As I am over 60 yrs and my husband is 74, we have taken on board the message that we are more vulnerable than many. We have obeyed the government guidelines or perhaps interpreted them in some instances. We have become slightly institutionalised in these housebound weeks and we have liked it. The need for a packed social calendar and even looking presentable have ebbed, too. Anxiety over always “doing” has fallen away. We appreciate that we are part of the ‘Lucky Lockdowners’ living in a house with a garden and having enough money to survive the financial implications but for some of us there is a legitimate fear to going out again.
Queuing, sanitising our hands, wearing a mask have made going shopping less of a pleasure and more of a chore which to be honest we have managed for 15 weeks to do without. As a friend said to me, “Why not continue to stay home until they find a vaccine?” Online shopping has catered for all our needs and in that respect our needs have been fairly minimal. We have enjoyed this simple life and perhaps that is why we are suffering from a little bit of FOMLO.
I read that Nigella Lawson is going on a 5:2 diet but from friends rather than food. I agree we are just not so keen to go back to the old routines. Don’t get me wrong I have missed my friends but lockdown has not stopped me keeping in touch and in actual fact I have made more of an effort with those that live further away and have spoken to them regularly rather than the occasional, less than personal, text. Coming out of lockdown does not mean any of us who are older are going to throw caution to the wind – we have been in training for 15 weeks so we know what to do and we will take care.
For OH and I this was D-day week. His back op was scheduled for Saturday, 4th July, previously postponed by 15 weeks. He has learned to live with the sometimes excruciating pain. He has been on a health diet to get himself as fit as he could, without taking any exercise. So on Wednesday we drove to London for him to have various pre-op tests – ECG, blood pressure, swabs and blood tests. The last two were to determine for certain that he does not have Covid-19 right now and the first two were to make sure he was strong enough for this operation.
He went into the hospital gloved and masked up and found the experience quite alarming as human contact was reduced to a minimum and without reassuring smiles it could be quite daunting for many.
Of course many of the medical staff must be on their knees with both physical and mental exhaustion and now they face the formidable task of trying to catch up with all the other medical problems that have been put on hold whilst Covid-19 raged.
Meanwhile I sat outside waiting for him and suddenly realising that there was nowhere for me to go to the loo. I was not allowed into the hospital and there were obviously no pubs or restaurants open. I asked the car park attendant and he said most people were ‘squatting’ in the corner of the car park. He happily showed me the corner but it was not for me! I did think that if my dog had messed in the corner of the car park I would have had to pick it up in a bag and taken it home or risked a fine.
Why do people feel it is acceptable to leave human faeces in a car park? I gather this problem has been multiplied in coastal resorts where people in their thousands have descended and there have been no public toilets open. Homeowners have had to put up notices as people have been squatting in their drives. My message to the government is if you are opening the pubs then remember what goes in has to come out and if the loos are not open or if they are but are not kept really clean then it will take more than a mask to keep Covid-19 at bay. As the virus is known to survive for longer on hard surfaces, different ways of cleaning public toilets will need to be looked at.
So no, even at the end of lockdown week 15, I won’t be off to the beach in a hurry and if my first experience of going to London is anything to go by then that is out too. I am looking forward to my OH being out of pain and I can hide behind the excuse that I need to stay home to take care of him. I shall be dropping him off at the hospital at 7am on Saturday and beating a hasty retreat to the safety of my home with clean, flushing loos.
But emerging into the new normal is something we must all do eventually – whether with holding our noses or shrieking with joy or in the vein of Nigella’s 5:2 transition from hibernation.
For more of Annabel’s diary posts during lockdown click HERE