I live in Glasgow and the UK has been in lockdown since March 23rd.
It was a surreal moment but had been a long time coming as it became evidently clear throughout February and March that the coronavirus outbreak – as it was still being called back then – was a fully-fledged pandemic the likes of which the world hadn’t seen in around 100 years or more.
At the time I thought about writing something but figured I didn’t really have much to write about. Well, not from a personal perspective anyway.
Being a freelancer I’m mostly home-based anyway when I do have work and living alone my life really wasn’t going to change that much.
I cancelled my gym membership in early February as I took unwell and just as well as within a month most of them had been closed indefinitely and all still are.
Notice I said I had taken unwell there.
A Friday night out up the west end with the boys was followed by the usual hangover but then I was back to normal by the Sunday.
But then Monday came.
They say on average you get at least three bouts of the cold every year with most showing minor symptoms.
Sometimes I feel like I’m coming down with a fully-fledged flu and feel terrible for 24-48 hrs with aches and pains, headache, and general malaise but then it usually clears up as quickly as it comes over me.
This time was different in that rather than a sudden feeling of unwell starting on the Monday it was gradual with the symptoms getting increasingly worse as the week progressed.
By the Thursday I was in my dressing gown dosing on paracetamol and Lemsip and trying to consume as much vitamin C as was humanly possible.
I had a dry cough which based on all of the news reports of the time was a leading symptom combined with a pounding headache so I started to panic that I had coronavirus or Covid-19 as we now know it.
Of course, everyone told me this was impossible as there was no way it could be in the UK at this point.
At the weekend I started to feel better and the dry cough became a wet one and I thought I was out of the woods but by the Monday I was going backwards again.
Even when the main symptoms began to clear by the following Wednesday the dry cough returned much worse than before and it plagued me for the next three nights as I struggled to sleep.
A cough bottle I purchased from a local chemist did absolutely nothing in fact if anything it made things worse.
There’s something mentally taxing about a persistent cough especially a dry one.
It feels like it’ll never end and the repetitive nature of it is horrible.
In total it took just over two weeks for the thing to clear up and normality to return.
The strangest symptom of all was that I got a really sore middle toe on my left foot throughout the whole experience that still doesn’t look right now three months later.
I’ve since read that’s a strange side effect of Covid-19 and a few doctors have told me that it’s likely I did have it based on my symptoms and the fact they now believe it’s been with us here in the UK since January.
Though I’ll never know for certain unless they bring out an anti-body test and even then who can say if it’s accurate for someone who had it so long ago.
Anyway, the lockdown continues as I write this on May 21st.
All pubs, clubs, cafes, restaurants and coffee shops not to mention indoor and outdoor arenas, leisure centres, libraries, schools, colleges, universities, bookmakers and retail stores are all closed to as well as theatres and cinemas etc.
Life as we know it has ground to a halt.
We were told here in the UK that the death rate would likely come in at around 20,000.
So far it’s at 36,000 and according to some sources could be as high as 62,000.
Thankfully first-line services haven’t been overrun and for the best part, the public has observed the quarantine and social distancing messages.
For a while, people seemed friendlier in the opening weeks with more folk nodding in your direction and saying ‘hello’ when you passed them on the streets when out for exercise or on visits to the shops but that has eroded and we’re more or less back to how we were ie: general ignorance and apathy to passers-by and your fellow man.
I guess the novelty of us ‘all being in this together’ has worn now off.
Talk of a vaccine has been almost daily since March with reports last week suggesting it could be widely available in the UK by September which sounds wildly optimistic to me but who knows.
The daily briefings from the government have also become a thing with such characters as Matt Hancock, Dominic Raab, Priti Patel and Rishi Sunak flanked by medical experts like Chris Whitty and Patrick Vallance entering into the public conscience.
It was essential if grim viewing for a while with the updated infection rate and death toll being read out and the same questions being asked over and over again by out of their depth journalists via live link-up though even with the return of head honcho and the nations Prime Minister Boris Johnson to the front line after his own near-fatal bout with the virus it’s become pretty tepid stuff.
The time of year that this has all occurred has been both a blessing and a hindrance in that the better weather and much longer balmy evenings make it pleasant to sit outside and to go for exercise in but they also make you miss beer gardens, nights out, and being able to lounge around the park or go for a barbecue with friends.
We’ve still got a long, hopefully, hot summer ahead of us and who knows how things will change as the restrictions are gradually lifted but I think it’s certain that it’ll be an even longer time before true normality returns.
Chatting to your friends via video calls on things like Zoom and the House Party app have become the norm and replaced actual physical contact.
Outside of my neighbour and a few visits from a distance from family members I haven’t had face to face contact with anyone in over three months.
That’s a new world record………..for me at least.
Furloughs and redundancies are at actual record levels as unemployment surges and the economy shrinks at an alarming rate.
Conspiracy theories also abound but it’s difficult to see how anyone is actually benefiting from this.
If ‘the man’ is getting rich I’d love to know how.
Some claim that 5G is causing all of this but having worked in telecoms tech support for years I know this to be absolute nonsense. Professional charlatans like David Icke throwing their weight beyond such claims just confirm that belief. I mean the guy went on the Terry Wogan show back in 1991 wearing a turquoise shell suit claiming that he was ‘The Son of the Godhead’ whatever the hell that is and that the British and Irish isles would be consumed by earthquakes and tidal waves within a few months.
Over in America Donald Trump’s behaviour during the pandemic has been nothing short of farcical to the point that even his premier British cheerleader Piers Morgan has turned on him.
No surprise then they have suffered the highest fatality rate by some distance.
Meanwhile with millions infected and hundreds of thousand dead that we know about various right-wing and ultra-capitalist types are still making out like it’s a storm in a teacup and that we should lift all restrictions and just get back to normal immediately.
Incredibly an increasing amount of the population actually agree with them.
It would appear only a Hollywood style movie or Netflix series type of post-apocalyptic drama unfolding in front of their eyes with men in hazmat suites lifting bodies out of their neighbour’s homes in rubber bags, mass graves being dug, full-scale public rioting and martial law would have them convinced otherwise.
In reality, most of the drama and tragedy has been occurring within ICU hospital departments and care homes for the elderly up and down the country far from the public eye which apparently to many renders it meaningless.
Maybe in a months time, I’ll write an update and everything will have changed again.
Perhaps a second wave will have began and made it all worse or indeed maybe normality will be steadily returning.
Or actually, maybe it’ll just be the exact same as it has been for the last two months.
In which case I guess there won’t be much point in writing anything.
Let’s wait and see.
There’s nothing else to do anyway.