March 23, 2021, is a year to the day since Boris Johnson announced that the country would go into lockdown. It is perhaps a time to reflect how it has impacted society and individuals. Rye is of course different to Hastings or many parts in London or around the country as a lot of people are retired which means a different type of stress compared to that experienced by young families who had to tutor their children as well as get on with their work.
Many people lost their jobs, businesses have gone under, and our High Street at the moment looks rather sad, with several empty shops and still no sign of the George Hotel opening. And mental health problems have increased over the year as has domestic abuse. But, talking to friends, it seems that the initial “stay at home” guidance was easier to follow than the latest stage. I have wondered why, and what did I do then differently to what I am doing now, as well as being slightly nervous at what is ahead.
Last March it seemed that we were all in it together and people did their best to adhere to the advice however limiting, apart from the heroes who continued to ‘look after us’ – the bin men, the NHS, the workers in supermarkets, all on the front line – and also local individuals who gave their time to help others in need.
I felt relaxed about staying home and caught up with unread books, knitted a pullover (not the best), started building a wooden electric model (half finished). I had plans to write my history for the children, grandchildren and great grandchild. It starts in 1700 with lots of twists and turns, death and survival. I managed six pages, but in this second lock down somehow I could not concentrate, so have got no further – which is upsetting. Looking back did I waste precious time? What have we learned about ourselves and society?
There were lows as I watched the figures of infections and deaths rise, but also pleasure – with time to keep in touch with family and friends on Zoom, in a bubble, and visiting the allotment to plant or relax. I am surprised at what survived and bulbs from last year are blooming. One Rye friend finished a book, amazing. Another used the time to be creative making beautiful jewellery. I wonder how others will think back on this time which we hope will be the last lockdown if the road map works. The infections are right down in Rother and Hastings after a steady rise from the Christmas freedom.
In Rye probably 70% of people will have had two jabs by the end of May. Does it mean we are free to do as we please at the end of June? Personally, I feel there should be no travel until other countries are down to the same level as England. Yes, people are desperate to do what they used to do, but do we want another wave? We have to open the economy for sure and Rye at Easter and in the summer will be a tourist destination which will help the hospitality industry. I hope it works and a certain herd immunity for the group not vaccinated yet is possible to live with. But young people feel forgotten having lost out in education, and skills learning and job opportunities for them are lower than before.
I guess everyone has to make their own decision as to how the new normal way of living will be for them, as going back to how things were is doubtful. But perhaps we and the politicians should now concentrate on the desperate climate crisis debate, not just the economy, though neither will be an easy task as the Brexit difficulties ahead may become more problematic.
Image Credits: Heidi Foster .