Well, hello you – it’s been a while. It’s been ten months, give or take, but it’s good to be back. The last time this column was published was in March, just as the first lockdown began. There’s a certain symmetry in returning in the week that tougher restrictions have again been imposed.
I wanted to be writing a ‘New Year, new hope’ message. But in the race between vaccine and virus, the virus is moving faster, and unless we all hide at home to give the vaccine a head start, the virus will spread and overwhelm our beloved, underfunded NHS again.
You’ll have your own idea about whether the new restrictions will work, but I’m resignedly in favour. I won’t enjoy being stuck inside again – I was getting quite used to lighting the fire to meet outside with friends, and to sitting in pubs in twos and fours.
We’ve done this before; we remember the drill
But if 2020 taught us anything, it taught us resilience. We’ve done this before; we remember the drill. Knuckle down. Do what you’re told. And get through it by looking for positives. There’s some great stuff I’ve not yet watched on Netflix, plenty of workouts on YouTube, and I’ve already soaked the fruit in port to bake a second Christmas cake. We need all the comfort (if not the calories) that we can get.
January is always a dismal month; cold, dark, and austere after the usual joy, light and excess of the festive period. Being stuck inside again (especially if you’ve decided to go dry and vegan for the month) suggests there’s little to look forward to.
But this lockdown is different…
Escalating case numbers mean it’s all still a bit scary. And compliance fatigue means there’s less evidence of social distancing during trips to the supermarket. But this time there really is some hope on the horizon.
Back in March TV news coverage was of lines of Italian hearses waiting to bury the dead; we had no idea how to treat this horrible disease, little understanding of how effective masks and social distancing might be, and our intensive care units quickly became overwhelmed.
Now we know that everyone over 50, plus all teachers and healthcare workers in Scotland, should be vaccinated by May. Sit tight. By May the weather will be fine, our gardens will be bursting into bloom again and we might begin to see our way back to normal – if we ever remember what normal means.
I know how lucky I am to have my health, a warm house, close family and friends, some income starting to come back in from freelance work, and SEISS to help pay the bills. And thanks to a pair of dumbbells and regular (free!) workout videos from an American ex-serviceman called (ahem) Bullyjuice, I’m feeling strong and energised.
I’ve also found time to launch a life-coaching practice (Zoom calls with a purpose) in fulfilment of a wish I’ve held for the past six years. But even in my cosy, bread-baking, coaching, gardening and fitness-fuelled muddle of a year, I’ve had days where I’ve felt low, angry, devoid of purpose and worried that I’d never do anything more worthwhile again than watch Netflix. I can’t be the only one.
So, how have you been? No, how have you really been? I’m afraid I’m not going to settle for the usual north of Scotland answer of, ‘Aye, fine’. Few of us are really, truly fine with all this; not one of us has been unscathed by this pandemic.
So, keep looking for silver linings, however slim. The vaccine is a big one, of course, but there’s more – spring bulbs pushing through the earth, our outdoor exercise is unlimited and the second series of ‘Staged’ is on iPlayer.
Don’t sweat the stuff you can’t change
Accept this new lockdown. Give in to it. Between work meetings – if you have any work – take naps. Read books. Eat cake. Give yourself permission to let unnecessary things slide, and don’t sweat the stuff you can’t change. Stop being angry. Instead, wrap yourself in a blanket and watch All Creatures Great and Small on catch-up. Isn’t that lad from Nairn good?
It’s horrible, I know. But we’ll get through this. And when we do? Just think of the parties. And the hugs…