Journal #6 – some thoughts about lockdown and personal responsibility

Jounral, pandemic, lockdown, thinking, monkey, worries,
Photo by Juan Rumimpunu on Unsplash

Hi out there, anyone who’s still following this blog after a pretty long period of nothingness. Lockdown life unfortunately for me has not been a blissful reflective period of copious spare time to grow vegetables, do jigsaws and write a novel. Like lots of folks with kids and caring responsibilities, I’ve had more to do, more stress, less help and less support. So – blah. I’m not going to whinge about it, but that’s why there’s been no posts – nothing here and not much over on Everyday Radical either (although some limited progress is being made on the novel, excerpt here from ages ago if you’re interested. Key development – it’s going to feature a dog called Daisy).

Anyway, the boy is back at nursery school this week, so to celebrate I thought I’d write something. All the writing guides tell you to write every day, even if it’s just a journal or stream of consciousness ramblings, and I would love to make this happen – I’m considering doing a super-organized block schedule of our daily routine to maximise time available (#5amWritersClub is a thing, folks).

But I mainly wanted to write today about some thoughts on the pandemic, to try and make these thoughts GO the FUCK AWAY, so I can think about some other stuff. (This is the reason for the picture of the thinking monkey, by the way. He won’t have whatever thought he’s having for very long, and it won’t turn into a ruminating, teeth-grindingly anxiety-inducing worry. He’ll just think about where he might find a banana, then go and find the banana and eat it, then scratch his bum).

So, this pandemic and lockdown situation is pretty rubbish for everyone, I think it’s safe to say. Even if you have no money or health worries and have a big garden and loads of time to develop a skill or enjoy your hobbies, it’s got to be a bit lonely unless you’re a total misanthrope – and even if you don’t miss people at all, watching the death rates climb must induce some sadness, or the fear of the disease must induce some anxiety.

My main feelings of late have been confusion and powerlessness.

First, the confusion. There are opinions everywhere, zillions of column inches and social media posts where every individual is convinced that their own view is right. We locked down too late and not hard enough, the schools are re-opening too soon, there’s going to be a second wave, the government are more interested in the economy than they are in saving lives, everything is completely fucked and we’re all doomed. Or – it’s no worse than seasonal ‘flu, we shouldn’t have locked down at all, lockdown causes more suffering and death than it prevents (people scared to go into hospital for serious but non-Covid things, or not wanting to over-burden the NHS so leaving it too late with Covid symptoms, the increase in domestic abuse, mental health crises, loneliness, depression and anxiety in older people hastening physical deterioration … the list is long). Or – it’s all a conspiracy and death certificates are being falsified. The whole thing is a man-made virus to make money for big Pharma by forcing everyone to be vaccinated. It’s all down to 5G. It’s a complex ploy to corrode our personal freedoms and we are on the way to becoming a totalitarian regime. {NB – I don’t agree with all of the above-stated views – obvs. You can guess which ones I do agree with in the comments if you want.]

It’s all quite interesting to me, as someone who is interested in politics and people and healthcare. But I don’t actually have time to research this stuff properly, and I’m not a virologist or an epidemiologist so I’m not going to pretend to have an expert opinion on the R value or the death statistics or the relative risk of lockdown vs. herd immunity. And, fundamentally, does it actually matter what I think? Is Dominic Cummings going to call me up and ask me my thoughts on lockdown easing strategy? No, of course not. (One opinion I will own up to is that he should have bloody resigned, and that he is running the show, and that he’s an arsehole – and that’s not a word I use very often). The government are in charge – I didn’t vote for them, but what actual power have I got to oppose them, really? Petitions don’t work, protests don’t seem to work. Thus, the powerlessness. And the subsequent attempts to LET GO of the worry about the things I can’t change.

I can only change my own behaviour. I can wear a mask in the supermarket if I think it’s a good idea. I can’t make you wear one. I can decide to stick to the social distancing rules. I can’t force my neighbours to do the same. I can only make a decision about whether to shop them (I decided not to, incidentally). I can decide to send my kid back to nursery school, based on my assessment of the risks and benefits for our family. It’s none of my business what you decide to do with your kid and I won’t bitch on social media about people who make different choices.

I struggle, though, to escape from the feeling that I should be DOING something about it. I think it’s the slightly dysfunctional hero complex that a lot of people who’ve worked in the public sector for a long time carry around with them – I spent 15 years trying to fix my little corner of the NHS, and now I feel like I can’t fix anything.

I was hoping that the process of writing this all down would lead me to some profound conclusions, but it doesn’t seem to be happening. So I will try to be like the thinking monkey, and just have a thought once, then let it go, and eat a banana instead. And maybe watch the news a bit less often. And think about what means of protest are available to us, beyond whinging on Twitter about Dominic bloody Cummings.

I’m going to try and post some more poetry soon, so give the blog a follow if you’d like to get an email when that happens. Maybe tomorrow, maybe next week – who knows?

Peace and love x