10 May 2020. Things are moving forward. An announcement by the Prime Minister this evening. Variously interpreted. Mostly bafflement. Are we out of lock-down? No. Stay home, stay safe. Can we go out? Yes. Now that the glorious summer weather has broken we can picnic in the park. But only in family or household groups. Not sure how we prove that? Carry a utility bill and/or DNA testing kit and/or marriage license/ birth certificate at all times? Exercise more. But don’t play team games except with your immediate family. Cricket for 3, anyone? Can we go to work? Yes, if you can’t work from home. No, if it is not safe to do so. Who decides? Reasonable you or your totally unreasonable boss? What are the penalties? And go to work without using public transport. Ideally walk or cycle. OK – just 25 miles in the rain …
But this news, whatever it is, has been welcomed by many of the small, self-employed businesses we deal with. Within minutes a flurry of Facebook messages. We can now get the dog walked, the plumbing fixed, the house deep-cleaned and celebrate it all with a magnificent cake. We can also exercise more than once a day. Not welcomed by one friend who flatly refuses to do any more exercising than she has been doing – – what with the 5-10 km daily walks, the 2 hour zoom pilates, and the online high-impact aerobics. Just lucky she has such a large lounge and the children have left home.
Good news for us because now we might be able to find a decorator, carpenter, electrician who can come out to do essential maintenance on the house we have just bought. House buying is a fraught process at the best of times. COVID-19 and lock-down have not made it any less stressful. Unlike many, many others whose sales and purchases have fallen through, along with their mortgage offers, we exchanged contracts the week before lock-down. But in the weeks since we have watched the fall of the stock markets; the potential crash of the world economy; worried about banks failing; attempted to manage large mounts of money via telephone banking with bank staff working from home who haven’t read all the emails about pro-tem procedures; imagined our own difficulties in signing vital documents from possible ITU beds while on ventilators; imagined our vendor in lock-down for 12 weeks unable to move out; not entirely sure how she did move out; been told by our removers that they will not consider anything before mid-May, even June; watched everyone about us indulging in an orgy of DIY and gardening while we could do nothing. Completion day was definitely a limp rag day.
This is my personal Mass Observation blog. I invite anyone, particularly members of Radley College community, to join in to create a group record of this important period in our history as we face the COVID-19 pandemic.
© Clare Sargent