[TW: This post contains some references to self-harm and as such has been hidden on the main page. Please click the link or the ‘Read More’ below to see the account.
The pandemic is making difficult situations even harder for many people. There are lots of amazing services out there that are there to listen and help. If things are getting difficult please talk to someone.
Back into lockdown today. Or perhaps not lockdown but ‘tighter restrictions’ as they say. In a strange way it is a relief. Firm rules mean that you don’t have to walk some tight rope of what is acceptable; which friends are okay with hanging out, which friends are scared shitless and don’t want to be in the same proximity as anyone. Partial lockdown means you don’t have to navigate the new social, but instead can live in little bubbles. There is no anxiety about whether you should go for a meal with your family even though it breaks local lockdown rules; but if you don’t go you are not being part of the family.
The bubble isn’t too bad to be honest, less pressure. If you see less people it is almost like you can be less responsible for people. Everyone is just trying to find their own way through and you are almost allowed to be insular. It is pretty exhausting carrying the weight of everyone so it is rather refreshing only concentrating on one or two people. Or perhaps this is just the results of six months of all this. It is quite surprising how many people still hold onto the idea that there is an end point to all this. Vaccine hope, my friend calls it. The media and even the politicians talk about this golden arrow that will just make everything better. The scientists are pleading with us to realise that we have to change our behaviour and that this is long term. I don’t think people have the capacity for long term anymore. Everything is instant gratification. Also the individualism of society has become so evident. It feels like people can’t see bigger picture, instead it has to be personal.
Anyway, you can now get pretty cool masks from Gap, so Covid19 Fashion is becoming a thing.
Sept 21st 2020 My county is one of those going back into lockdown tomorrow evening. Realistically this makes no difference to me. I moved about 2 months ago and don’t know anyone around here. My boyfriend broke things off with me just over a month ago (not that I’d seen him before that since March). I’ve missed seeing him, I’ve missed our lives being normal. Now I miss all of that plus having him to talk to. If I didn’t feel so very alone before, I definitely do now. And I miss the hope of a future.
We had a work picnic a couple of weeks ago, first time we’d all been together since March. I’d missed being around people, joking, winding each other up. And I met a friend for a McDonald’s drive-thru breakfast last week – easily distanced by sitting in our own cars. But that’s it. So when I say realistically another lockdown makes no difference to me – the fact is it’s not really possible for me to go out or see people less than I already am.
Once again I am back to zero hope for the future. I had pretty much none left after the person I’d thought I’d spend the rest of my life with made a different choice. I’ve been working on getting some of it back, slowly. My counsellor says she’s going to get me to be less cynical. We shall see (she said, cynically…). But what is there for me to hope for? What a second lockdown does do for me is serve as a reminder for how alone I am. No one to stop seeing, no changes to make. And no hope for things to be different.
I’m pathetic and ungrateful, I know. I have a job, I’m probably unlikely to lose it even with things changing on a regular basis. And I’m doing okay at it, for the most part. I have a house now, which I feel very lucky for. I am pathetic and ungrateful. But I can’t help but feel like if the soul purpose of my life is to get up, sit alone at my desk for 8hrs working at a job that really doesn’t make that much difference to other people’s lives, then maybe I peaked before I hit 30. Maybe my life at 29 was as good as it’s gunna get. I have nothing to look forward to, and no hope that things will ever be better. My counsellor may have her work cut out…
This pandemic has robbed me of loved ones and any hope for a better future. But realistically, a second lockdown makes no difference to me.
My world has shrunk to the space between my house and the corner shop. I don’t go anywhere else; I can’t drive, and it’s not worth risking public transport, so, as of a few months ago, my whole world is half a mile long. When you walk the same half mile stretch every few days to pick up a pint of milk, you tend to notice things that you never even thought to look at before. The forest green ceramic tile of the house number plaque at number 392 has a little crack in it, just between the numbers 9 and 2. There’s a pot hole near the roundabout which grows a few centimetres in diameter every week or so, and now it’s nearly the size of a dinner plate. The house on the corner has paused the work on their extension since April, and the tarpaulin that covers a portion of the roof has a rip in it; I wonder if their whole attic is flooded.
And on the bus shelter near the end of my world, there’s a poster. I’ve seen it dozens of times since they put it up in about December last year, but I’ve never really looked. Only the other day, I did. It used to be a poster advertising the employment prospects for those who could speak Welsh, some effusive copy about how many jobs in the public sector required Welsh speakers. This is your time to learn Welsh! Employment beckons for a person of your skill! Wales is booming!
That poster hasn’t been changed in 9 months; it’s hardly a priority for the council to use their already meagre funds to tend to the aesthetics of bus stops, after all, especially now that the bus services are so reduced. As I remember it, the poster used to have a photo on it of a young man, grinning placidly at the sheer joy of being off the dole and in a cushy council job, and the bilingual caption said something to the effect of ‘the council needs you.’ By now, it’s bleached totally white by nearly a year of sun. There’s still the vague shape of a man, the outline of a head and shoulders, but all the detail is invisible, his smile disappeared into nothing. The space where the excitable copy shrieked about employment opportunities is long gone too, worn away into the same blank white as the poster background. There’s nothing there any more except for the vague impression of what used to be, half a year ago.
This is just a quick video offering some advice on how to pick a History dissertation topic for any final year students. These are just my tips. There are many like them. But these ones are just mine. Other people might have other suggestions or preferences – please feel free to add down below any tips you have that differ from mine.
Description of Video: Kristopher (me!) talks to the camera with the following timecodes appearing on screen as headings:
I write this on the weekend before lockdown 2.0, due to come into affect week commencing week commencing September 14th 2020. I write following a weekend of celebrations for mine and a friends’ birthday, where – perhaps unwisely – we chose to celebrate together with our friends at a local bar. The venue we chose is an outdoor venue, which we’re lucky to have in the city, as it meant that – presumably through some creative interpretation of government policy – they could accomodate our party, just shy of 30 in attendance.
A degree of care in choosing the venue was taken, as we wanted to make sure the venue was one we frequented regularly, the owners were trusted and whose care for their customers seemed legit in these unusual circumstances. A healthy dose of cynacism for government policy was also present, with the some of the key players such as the Prime Minister, his Ministers and Advisors all having been caught out at one point or the other bending or breaking their own government’s rules. With our Government simultaneously making it law punishable by a minimum fine of £100, to gather in groups greater than 6, whilst also threatening to ignore International Law in their handling of leaving the European Union, I would be lying if there wasn’t a certain satisfaction in getting in one last hurrah before the rules tigthen up again.
We’re fortunate here in Cambridge for having some of the lower cases of Covid-19 reported in the country. That said I made it clear that if anyone didn’t want to attend owing to Covid concerns, I’d be totally cool with it. Anyone pushing peer pressure in a pandemic – not cool. A few people opted out, and that’s fine, but the majority were comfortable in joining on the day. Fortunately I have fairly sensible group of people to call my friends, and I really appreciated them joining me in a celebration, in a year that has given little to look forward to.
13 September I thought I would get used to working from home but I haven’t. I haven’t heard the words “new normal” for a long time either, which I imagine is because most people seem to have decided to just go back to behaving how they did before. Crowds in streets, shops and bars, parties with grandparents and extended family, kids back to school…
And yet mental health is at an all time low for a lot of people. Anxiety is spiking, depression is deepening, and even some of those who are throwing caution (and social distancing) to the wind are in turmoil about the uncertainty of the future.
Seeing local lockdowns seeming to creep around the country, slowly spreading outwards is fuelling those fears. Like I said, I haven’t got used to working from home. I hate it. The loneliness and the lack of support from colleagues, the mounting pressure and stress of supporting mental health for people who have lost their support networks, who relied on routine and structure and don’t have it… and the prospect of further lockdown here really makes me feel cold inside.
Not that I want things to return to “normal” as it was. This is an opportunity to change, and grow. To build local networks and communities, and to change the way we work and live. It just doesn’t feel like we’re moving that way. Half of us are sitting static, unsure of what to do, whilst the other half drag us back (seemingly to the 1950s in some cases…)
Call me “Captain Foresight”, but I knew the proverbial shit would hit the proverbial fan back in February. I remember buying a bottle of hand sanitiser for my bag along with an extra bottle of Carex in Wilko – and an extra tin per food shop, too – “just in case”. I remember the number of people wearing masks on campus rising a bit. I remember reading that thrilling novel called “the news” reporting on the mass deaths in Italy at the time like some kind of plague-zombie-plot. I don’t get why the government didn’t. We’re now one of the worst hit nations in Europe – and not for a lack of foresight.
I was more than fine with the first lockdown. “Flatten the curve”, or as the Prime Ringmaster of the United Kingdom dubbed it, “Squash the sombrero”. Fine by me – too little too late, even! Deaths and cases were kicking off. I was – still am – anxious about “Eat out to help out”, about my upcoming return to university, about offices and kids returning to school.
But the current talks of “lockdown 2” – curfews, reducing the number of people who can meet to 6… they don’t add up in the slightest. As I said to a friend – over instant messaging, of course – “What the fuck’s a curfew going to do?? Is the virus fucking nocturnal?”
Nevermind the fact that the government is hellbent on keeping pubs open like the “Nothing to see here!” scene from Naked Gun, or sending people into offices and schools like some kind of Covid-era General Melchett – which is apparently not the cause of the current rises, which are instead apparently all “the young not obeying lockdown”. To me all the actions from now are clearly not driven by any protection of people but of business. The drive to send people back to offices is to keep Pret and office rents afloat, clear as glass.
I’ve been saying for months that it’s no coincidence the worst hit countries in the world are often the ones under the control of right-wing populists – of Trump, of Boris, of Bolsonaro, of Modi. “Elect a clown, get a circus”, so the saying goes. But now it’s very clear the circus tent’s crashing down, and it’s going to kill people.