Tuesday, 16 June 2020

Lockdown Review

The lockdown has effectively been over for several weeks now. You can see it in the streets thronged with people and the roads clogged with vehicles. It ended with the Dominic Cummings fiasco. During which a national newspaper posted a ‘cut out and keep’ mugshot of DC on its front page and invited readers to put it on and do whatever the hell they wanted. And since then many people have pretty much been doing that, whether or not they bothered to wear DC or any other masks. On a national level, it is plain to see that the government’s handling of the crisis has been woeful and inept. But on a personal level, I have to conclude that the lockdown has mainly been beneficial for me.

Why do I say this? Well, during lockdown I’ve completed a series of major jobs around the house that I’d been putting off for a good while: building my new bike, cutting the heavily overgrown back hedge and clearing the clogged garden pond, to name but three. I’ve also done a substantial amount of writing and editing work. I’ve completed the manuscript of my second poetry collection and succeeded in gaining a book contract with Dempsey & Windle. I’ve formatted the manuscript and secured the rights to a photo for the cover. And I’ve now started work on my next book, which will be a novel.

Lockdown gave me the uninterrupted time and space to take on a range of multi-day jobs, whilst also removing most of the distractions that would have encouraged me to avoid them. So I can now congratulate myself on having successfully achieved a series of important tasks, some of which had been neglected for a while.

The low traffic of lockdown and the associated good weather enabled me to do a series of long bike rides on major roads that I would never have dreamt of riding on in normal circumstances. The best of these was along the Castlewellan Road to Newcastle, around the coast to Kilkeel and Rostrevor, into Newry and back along the canal to Poyntzpass. Lockdown has certainly encouraged people to get out bikes that had been left in the shed for many years. This can only be a good thing for people's health. I hope that the boost to cycling continues, despite the increase in traffic.

As T has been working from home, it has meant that we have spent much more time together. We have shared many breakfasts and lunches together and have been able to talk more and more often. These everyday connections have strengthened and deepened our relationship.

As for living with the stress of a life-threatening disease? Well, I’ve been doing that for the past nine years. You have to take things day by day and not expect too much of yourself. It’s not easy, but this has become my normality. You take all the precautions you can, do the right things and hope for the best.

Lockdown has meant that I haven’t had a haircut, a cup of coffee in a cafe nor been to an event for three months. But in the great scheme of things, this has been a small price to pay. I’m aware that we don’t have little children to care for, or a business to run. And I’m not wishing for lockdown to return, just doing my own assessment of the past three months. For me there have clearly been many more gains than losses.



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