I can’t speak for others. The altered experience of so many, across a harshly punctuated year, has been altogether different from mine. An older person, on his own but with family living near, I’ve had it easy: too easy in a way. Furlough money for doing nothing – how I need to get back to my one day a week teaching! – no immediate caring duties, the odd minor health issue attended to by the NHS in spite of their screaming overload – so one has drifted along. But within a bubble of comparative security my teeth have been gritted, like everyone else’s. On this anniversary of the first lockdown, and waiting for the lifting of the third, the idea of a day of reflection has been promoted – not that many will have time for more than a few minutes of it. I think I’ve been most conscious of the mental frenzy this virus will have established in a million individual lives left without support.
It will rage for some time. Outwardly people will welcome the return to “normality” that it is hoped will soon take firmer root than before; within there may well be a legacy, a scar. After the War the business of practical reconstruction took first place. The unconscionable trauma of hardship and loss was addressed to an extent by an instinctive drive to build a new country with vital social reforms. That won’t happen this time except in a kind of wishful thinking: it will be business as usual and in their own way people will – or will not – come to terms with all that has happened.
But I can’t speak for them. For me, I shall have to somehow falteringly climb out of a valley I really don’t want to look back on, an abyss of all that has not happened. Nature abhors a vacuum: I have become too comfortable doing nothing, perfecting a strategy of idleness. Perhaps I shall throw myself into a radical writing venture, entailing a deal of travel (even if without departing these shores, for the time being). Such a project has in fact long been on my mind. Perhaps I shall slide ever more gently into the rut of age. I hope it will be something nearer the former, for like everyone else – and here I know I can speak for all – I just want to put this damn time behind me.