Contains some strong language.
If you’ve been around here a while, you’ll know that there have been a few times when I haven’t exactly been following the rules. From an absence of social distancing to meeting up with more than one person, I haven’t been clear of violations. While I haven’t been to any parties or raves, there have been times when I’ve decided to march to my own beat. Last week, I realised I’m not alone.
Barely two weeks ago, my mother turned up to walk our dog. We’d planned to go together, but the electrician had a sudden cancellation and could pop round to fix our washing machine within the hour. My Mum still visited anyway because she still wanted to take Hugo for a walk.
“What are you doing here?” I asked my brother, not this game again.
“I thought I’d come up and see you” he smirked. I smiled at him and shook my head, he was a little devil for sure.
“Skiz, can I get a hug?” he asked, holding out his arms. Skiz, Skizzy, both short for Skizzer, his very own way of saying sister. That was his name for me.
I paused and considered it for a moment. We shouldn’t, and I knew we shouldn’t, but he’d been on furlough and stuck at home for several weeks. Fuck it, what are the risks?
So I hugged him, and we held one another for several minutes. When I let go of him, he was crying. My big, strong, burly security guard of a brother, crying.
After that, I was angry. I didn’t care for the rules anymore. I didn’t care for shoulds and should nots, musts and must nots. I’d live my life, I’d run with the risks, I’d take my own precautions and I’d face the fines if and when I get caught. My family meant more, my family’s mental health meant more. We made up our own Coronavirus motto – “Stronger Together, Weaker Apart”.
But when Mum invited me to push boundaries even more, I was surprised. After all, only a week before, she was steadfastly against any car sharing.
Do you fancy going shopping up ASDA this morning?
Umm.. ok, but what about the car?
What about it? Wear a mask, we’ll be fine 🙂
So we did.
I’d forgotten so much about that feeling. I’d forgotten motion, I’d forgotten distance, I’d forgotten landscape. After nine months cooped up inside my own home, I’d forgotten so much of living. I’d forgotten the feeling of frosty air on my face and the sight of my own breath. Everything amazed me, everything bemused me. At times, even the most simple interactions seemed overwhelming. Inside Makro, everything seemed completely normal. The only signs of a pandemic were the social distancing markers on the floor, and even then, most people were ignoring them without retribution.
“Insert your card into the reader, please?” the cashier asked.
Shit, how do these things work again? I’d not seen one of these since, what? About Februaty.
I used to walk out of Makro with an air of calm and grace, and yet this time, I walked out looking like I’d been slapped with a wet fish. Outside, I had to lean against a signpost and catch my breath back.
“Are you ok?” Mum asked.
“Yeah,” I nodded, “just anxiety.”
As I stood, I stretched and let out a groan. The pain in my chest and back, I realised, was from hours cooped over a desk in the corner of my living room. Holy cow, lockdown had not been kind to me. I sounded far too much like an OAP, even at my young thirty-two years of age.
After Makro, we headed up to ASDA, Britain’s answer to Walmart. If Makro had overwhelmed me, ASDA was all-consuming.
“What pandemic?!” I joked, overlooking the car park. At the end of the slip road lie rows upon rows of parked cars with families and couples bustling in between them. Some wore masks, others didn’t. Some shouted, others ignored social distancing and walked close to people. It would have been impossible to enforce the rules, there were too many violations going on.
“I thought it was supposed to be one person from each household?”
“Exactly,” Mum affirmed. “I came up here a few weeks ago and I couldn’t believe what I saw.”
In the store, social distancing is forgotten. It’s each man for himself, though most people will also help out if you ask them nicely. Face mask compliance is strong, but social distancing is not, and a few elderly customers had even upgraded to wearing face visors. They looked like little old-aged riot officers, bustling to get their groceries and newspapers.
As a former pandemic worker, I now work on my own models and conclusions. This one has a lower mortality rate than H1N1, and as such, I’ve stopped listening and worrying. Yes, maybe it is more infectious, but then how did my mother get sick and the rest of the household didn’t? Is this virus highly contagious indoors, or only in certain circumstances? Outside of office hours, perhaps? I have questions.
It’s great for the government to call for lockdowns and tiers, but the police just aren’t out there enforcing them. They’re overwhelmed, they’re broken, beaten and taken for granted by protests and student parties. The nation has woken up from the fear and now realise that this virus just isn’t so scary after all. People can and will find workarounds, we’re British, it’s what we do. We’ve had nine months of lockdowns and for many, we have come out in tiers higher than when we went in. The British public has had enough of the rules, they’ve had enough of those who make them and those who can afford to break them. Now, the British public and the STWA brigade just aren’t willing to listen.