Lockdown UK. It sounds like a Channel 5 docuseries on Britain’s toughest prisons or a cabal of nationalist locksmiths. It’s still surreal to consider that, what it actually is, is media shorthand for a series of loosely lawful and increasingly confusing restrictions on our freedom of movement to ensure we don’t inadvertently overwhelm an ICU.
The pace at which new rules are churned out and slightly older ones are abandoned means what we consider law-abiding today might be a fineable offense tomorrow and vice versa. So I’ll leave the forensic analysis of the Tory party hymn sheet to those more qualified. Focusing instead on what it’s been like for the many.
Being under house arrest isn’t that much of a laugh. And as much as we might find solace in experimental baking and terrestrial media the majority of the time it’s fair to say we miss our public spaces.
Even the abject worst parts of having a social life loom out of imaginations like treasured childhood memories. I found myself wistfully longing to have a syrupy cocktail spilled over my trainers on a packed dance floor. My body aches to be injured just 3 minutes into a gym session. I wish just one elderly relative would insult my life choices.
That said, it’s nice to know I might be making doctors’ lives easier by re-watching I’m Alan Partridge in my dressing gown. It’s probably never been so easy to do some good. You really feel as if your actions are contributing to a greater goal. And in the most reliable of British ways, we’ve managed to turn this into an excuse to talk about the war.
While comparing a global pandemic to war is a bit like apples and oranges it’s undeniable this will be the strangest and most costly event in a lifetime for the majority of us. The ripple effects of which will be felt for the rest of the decade at least. So, yes lets all band together to remain resolute and sure enough we will see dawn break. And if bunting and belting out the national anthem is what gets you through then, I suppose, to each, their own.
Unlike the war, the human cost is almost alien to us, a number ticking upward on a smartphone or tablet. There’s no rationing queues or rubble, no bodies piled in the streets or shrieking sirens. The horrors happen quietly in care homes and behind cubicle curtains. Even the funerals are clandestine affairs.
So in that way it can be difficult to take the virus seriously as it’s not visible. The threat isn’t palpable and only the tutting of another human when you venture inside their 2m radius at the supermarket jogs your memory. Don’t grind your teeth, though, as there has never existed a year more taxing on the soul. You never know what another person is going through and in the age of monstrous job losses, broken businesses, and heaving hospitals that statement has never felt truer.