This week, Rosie shares a series of tips which in no way reflect bitter personal experiences, while James reminds us all to take care of ourselves, and each other.
Our writers Rosie Paterson and James Fisher — who have both, one way or another, ended up alone for the duration — are sharing slices of their lives.
So far they’ve ranked musical instruments (and not in a good way), mused over mysteries, shared tales of curious robins, video chat and little old ladies winching shopping through windows. You can catch up on all their columns here.
Let’s start with a special shout out to my parents — Polly and David* — who helped write this week’s column. It’s a list of handy instructions for throwing the world’s (or at least Devon’s) best beach picnic.
*Any resemblance to people called Polly and/or David is entirely intentional.
I was at the pub the other day with a few friends (doing my patriotic duty/creating the ‘Second Wave’ — delete as appropriate) and, strangely, we decided to talk about this coronavirus pandemic that you might have heard of.
One thing we all sort of noticed and agreed on, is that all of a sudden it’s basically August, when last week it was March, and that somehow, we had all switched off our brains for three solid months.
Time, for me at least, stood still and then suddenly snapped forward.
It’s an unsettling feeling, just having a hole in your memory. I forget stuff all the time, and I’m often reminded of embarrassing/unusual things that I’ve done that I had just erased. But this gap is different, isn’t it?
Maybe I didn’t bake enough banana bread, or go for enough runs (or perhaps it was too many), but if someone were to ask me ‘what did you do in April’, I would reply ‘nothing, probably’.
Like, I know I did ‘something’, I just don’t know what it was. It’s odd looking back, now, because it feels like the virus itself, as awful and devastating as it is, is in fact just a small part of the pandemic. It’s an event that is so new, and so extensive, that we don’t know what to expect. Every ramification, every aftershock, will be a new experience that we will have to deal with, with no handbook to understand how. Hands up who had ‘forgetting an entire quarter of a year’ as a symptom of Covid 19?
So we talk about it, in the pubs, and in the Zoom calls and on WhatsApp. Because coping with the unquantifiable damage that this bug has done, not just physically, but certainly mentally, requires us to reach out and discuss things and experiences that we never would have imagined six months ago.
So keep doing this. Keep talking, because while you may be aware of what you are dealing with, you won’t know what others are. Healing a body is one thing, but healing a mind — one that has been smashed and battered by something nobody prepared for — is a group effort, and it will be far harder and require a lot more work than any vaccine.
Also, wear a mask.