No hugs. No handshakes. No crowed pubs. No live music. No packed football terrace on a cold February night singing support. No theatre. No garden parties. No crammed cafe filled with people sheltering from summer rain. No school concert. No five-a-side football. No knock-about cricket in the park. No choral music. No midnight mass. No hard miles down the gym. No funeral party at the club with cuddles, remembering and shared love. No wetting the babies head. No quizzes in the old way with heads huddled together round a pub corner table. No piling to the local after a game of football, cricket or rugby. No drinks in a buzzing bar after a show. No comedy shows. No crawls round town with your mates. No nightclubs. No dancing. No children's party at the village hall. No scouts and guides. No kids pushing to the front to get the best view. No fireworks party. No New Years drinks in the village inn. No birthday pizza and drinks. No nights out with the guys from work. No popping into the pub after a walk to stand at the bar chatting to whoever will listen.
I am worried, upset, genuinely scared that the "new normal" everyone talks about means many of these curses of lockdown won't go away. There's a new battalion of worrywarts, fussbuckets, sneaks, snitches, self-righteous nannies and know-alls all set to impose their " new normal":
"I think it's going to be very very difficult for us to return to any of us standing at the bar or any of us mingling in a cafe indoors in a way that we have in the past,"So proclaimed one of these worrywarts, Michael Gove. Not "it might be a while" but "very very difficut to return to". If this is true then you can probably measure my box or find me a ticket to a place where you can get back to normal because it's not a world I want. Nor was it the deal we signed up to when the government, back in March, sent us into lockdown. That deal was that lockdown was needed to make sure the NHS wasn't overwhelmed. It was not a plan to close down our lives until such a time as we either die or the government deems us fit to share a space over a drink, do some exercise or a million other things with friends, neighbours and family.
I read, can't remember where, about a pub that opened to serve takeaways. And, while folk were waiting for a meal, the landlord would sell you a bottle of beer to enjoy in the garden. Great idea, a business trying to survive and folk getting the chance to sit awhile with a pint. But for those snitches, sneaks and worrywarts this wasn't good enough, they complianed and the place got visits from police, trading standards, planning enforcement and anyone else the fussbuckets could rope in to stop this terrible thing - having a few folk sat in a garden enjoying a beer while waiting to pick up some dinner.
I've played the game. I've clapped for the NHS. I've spend a fortnight without leaving the house. I've socially distanced. (But believe me I'd have broken the lockdown in a breath if a friend or family needed help). It's time now to stop saying "thank you" for my effort and start returning me - and millions of others - to a normal life. One where children go to school. One where gyms and pubs are open. One where I can sit in a games cafe and play D&D. One where there are places to visit with nice cafes and a country pub for a drink and a meal. Not the nannying fussbuckets' "new normal" but the old normal, the one we set aside for a short time out of neighbourliness and solidarity.
Just open the pubs damn it. Let's have our lives back, let's end this lockdown. Above all let's not create a false impression that somehow because your cute Norfolk village is quiet, that makes lockdown anything other than an oppressive, controlling restriction on our lives. Yes, there really are some who see it as a sort of blessing (I guess they have money, jobs, business unaffected by the closures, and lives that don't involve social interaction):
So the effects of Covid-19 and the lockdown will be short-lived, though the inevitable recession has already begun to bite. Everyone will have less money, many will be jobless, taxes and prices will surely rise, yet I doubt if even those things will push us back into the peace and gentleness of lockdown. It has been a different world, and though it will be wonderful for so many to get outside freely again and for everyone to be reunited with family and friends, surely we will feel sadness and regret for our weeks in yet another lost world?The "peace and gentleness of lockdown". Enough of this nonsense. Just open the pubs. Give us our lives back.