It didn’t hit me when I was sitting alone on a train that I’ve never seen empty, and it didn’t hit me when days later I was having a BBQ in the backyard for a weekday lunch. It wasn’t until we were 6 weeks in, that life in London Lockdown moved from surreal to real.
Putting the reason for it aside, heading into the UK’s first lockdown seemed like a bit of a novelty. Working from home for 3 weeks, no commuting, no £5 Pret lunch. Sounded like dream come true and I believe a lot of people were in the same frame of mind.
We could leave the house to buy food (and beer), but there was nothing to do and nowhere to go. Four of us living full-time in a semi-detached townhouse. It was starting to rub. Eventually it was lifted and we enjoyed a few months of freedom (and enough time for me to move into a 2-bedroom flat). Then it was all taken away again – Lockdown 2.0 was here.
Technically the second lockdown was only 4 weeks, but the restrictions were tough enough that it made little difference. During this time the battle with my own mental wellbeing began. The persistent fight with lethargy and apathy. Get out of bed, feed myself, shower. What reason did I have to do any of those things? I had no one to impress and my housemate had the same attitude. Pandemic fatigue was very real and started to feel impossibly endless.
Lockdown 2.0 lifted just in time for Christmas, with a great sigh of relief heard across the UK. The PM announced relaxed restrictions over the holiday period, but not long after that London was placed into Tier 4. Just a fancy term which meant the restrictions were tough enough we may as well be in lockdown. At the very least we could go and buy food for a Christmas lunch right? Wrong. With about a week to go, my housemate tested positive for Covid. Into isolation we went.
Instead of a Christmas tree, we had a plastic houseplant. Instead of festive wrapping paper, everything stayed in it’s elegant Amazon packaging. A holiday season that no one wanted to remember. Shortly after we welcomed 2021, Lockdown 3 arrived and the cycle began again.
I’d like to say that I spent the time in lockdown learning a new language or a new skill. Maybe the week I tried my hand at embroidery counts, maybe not. My saviour came in the form of books. Reading lots and lots of books. Fiction was the best way I found to distract myself from everything happening – or not happening. Perhaps I even managed to expand my vocabulary, if only slightly!
Slowly, and I mean slowly things started to improve. I was back to the office once or twice a week. Occasionally going to the pub for a drink and a meal with friends. But the long-term lockdowns meant that socialising no longer came naturally. Pandemic madness had changed my love of London. So for that reason I returned to Adelaide, quite the worse for wear, and a bit listless.
Now, living in the Adelaide Hills, spending more time outside than ever before. A backyard with grass, what a novelty! Back-to-back summers is no hardship either. And I haven’t stopped reading, but now it’s purely for pleasure rather than distraction.
What did I learn from all this? The freedom to leave your house, see friends and family, go out for a meal, and (I hate to say it) go into the office! All of which can be easily taken for granted. Something to think about when you have to force yourself out of bed to go somewhere – at least you have somewhere to go!
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