We’re on the cusp of seeing out 2020. What a year it has been! As I write this blog post, I am thinking of ways in which I can use this space to encourage you. In doing so, I feel it is an opportunity for me also to gain insight into this year, and how to move forwards.
2020 – A Year Like No Other:
Regardless of where you have been in your personal life journey, the events and happenings of 2020 will have had some sort of impact on you.
I wonder if a ‘recap’ is in order, of if many among you may just wish to forget what the past year has brought.
I’m pretty sure we all just faced our first pandemic. I still remember the early days when the coronavirus was an unfortunate news story of an epidemic outbreak in China and a few other parts of the world. I don’t know about you, but living in the UK that seemed pretty far away from me and my daily life.
If you wish to look back at my blog archives to around this time of year, earlier in December 2019 I actually went traveling to the Black Forest in Germany and enjoyed the snow covered mountains of that beautiful region. I enjoyed the hustle and bustle of festive European Christmas markets in Germany, and also in Strasbourg, France.
The Year In Which Our Plans Changed:
Heading into the new year, January 2020, my mind was busy brainstorming potential travel plans for visiting the European countries I had not yet had a chance to go to, before Brexit and the UK’s Exit from the European Union finally took hold. Well, today is the day, folks – from 11pm tonight GMT, the UK will no longer be under EU law. It has been somewhat of a chaotic few years politically to get to this point, but here we now are, and in a very different world.
Who knew that all of those potential travel plans for 2020 would evaporate in a puff of smoke?! I remember meeting a couple of my female friends for coffee in January to catch up after Christmas and New Year, and they were telling me that they had already booked trips away to France and Italy and were looking forward to ski trips and summer holidays. ‘The best laid plans of mice and men…’ and all that!
I remember being concerned for my friends as one of them had booked to travel in late February, and by that time I’m pretty sure Italy was taking quite a hit from the coronavirus. Suddenly things felt so much closer to home!
The First Lockdown and a New Vocabulary:
In the UK, news of the coronavirus soon overtook what we thought would be the big news story of the year – Brexit – as cases began to rise in Italy, in France and in other European countries.
Words that we didn’t use much in general conversation suddenly became common parlance. Suddenly there was talk of ‘quarantine’ for people traveling back to the UK from abroad, and as the virus spread, this worked both ways with other countries quarantining travellers going to and from the UK.
I am a bit of a ‘clean freak’ as it is, and in normal pre-pandemic times at work I would always be taking extra care to avoid germs, and would use a handkerchief or tissue to open doors, especially when touching those door handles outside the ‘restrooms’ or communal toilets. Gross. Most people didn’t bother, and I don’t think hygiene was uppermost in everyone else’s minds. I guess I’m just a bit more aware of things like that, and I even joked with some colleagues about how I’d take my own bedcovers and cleaning supplies when staying in hotels or traveling so that I could ensure cleanliness! You can’t be too careful, after all….
What might have been a joke to other people, gradually became part and parcel of daily life. I remember talking with a friend at work about our concerns about the virus, and she said that her colleagues were making fun of her for taking it so seriously. Sadly, the virus proved them wrong, and quarantine, lockdown, and hypervigilance to cleanliness has become part and parcel of daily lives.
I was concerned and expressed my concerns with my boss prior to Mother’s Day in the UK in mid-March when I wanted to visit my family. At that point in time the public health message was that coronavirus mainly affected only older people or people with underlying health conditions, and the tens of cases that we read about in the news were mainly only of people aged 65 and over.
Long gone are those days now. The older age group were expressing concerns over being locked in and made to stay at home, but it wasn’t long before we all had to. Boris Johnson, the UK Prime Minister declared that we all had to stay at home, protect the NHS, and save lives, and on 23rd of March 2020, the United Kingdom went into its first full lockdown.
Suddenly, the word ‘unprecedented’ also became part of our daily conversations and newscasts, as nothing like this had ever happened in recent history during peacetime. People who remembered the Second World War knew all about lockdown, rationing and quarantine of sorts, but most of the rest of us had never experienced anything like it. We have it easier than previous generations who had to deal with real rationing, shortages and the threat of death from a perhaps more frightening enemy, yet the coronavirus was still having a devastating impact upon our country and across the globe.
(End of Part 1 – to be continued…).