Shared Experiences

Some of your have been kind enough to share your experiences of the Coronavirus pandemic and lockdown. Some of these will be retained in the archives for future generations.

My Experience of Coronavirus Lockdown 2020

Submitted by anonymous

At the age of 73 years I did not expect there to be many things I would be doing for the first time. However, when we were placed in lockdown on March 23rd due to the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, that proved to be the case.

There had been feelings of unease over several weeks as the BBC kept us informed of the virus spreading out of China and advancing ever nearer. I remember going on Sunday March 22nd for a walk on Keele campus, not only to exercise ourselves and the dog but also to inspect the progress of the cherry blossoms that adorn the campus. That was the first time I became aware that I was viewing other walkers warily and physically distancing myself when they came into view.

The following day it was official. We were told to socially distance ourselves keeping two metres apart when outdoors, to stay indoors leaving only to exercise, work or shop. I live with my husband aged 78 years, a dog who requires exercise and an elderly cat who only requires food and sleep. Being retired our concerns were simply to shop for food and get our daily exercise. As we are both over 70, we are deemed to be in a high risk category, my husband has high blood pressure and I have a chronic chest condition.

So, I suppose at the early stage my main feeling was one of fear. Every day the news showed many more deaths from this virus which seemed to be spreading as fast as the Australian bush fires of a few months ago! When told you are “high risk” it certainly ensures you keep to the rules because you think “If I get this virus, its likely it’ll kill me.” Both my husband and I sat down and wrote instructions about what we wanted to happen if we died, where we wish to be buried etc. We should have done this years ago, but being faced with such a deadly virus does focus the mind. I checked regularly online to see how many cases were in Stoke but, was relieved to see it remained relatively low.

In March it was my birthday. It felt strange not to leave the house all day but I had many phone calls, emails and post to keep me occupied and in a celebratory mood. We are fortunate to have a garden and the sun shone that day – as it has many days since – as we had a very select tea party outside with just the two of us.

I belong to a correspondence magazine. There are nine of us all over the UK and we have been exchanging monthly letters for over forty years. We decided early on in lockdown that, to prevent journeys to the post office, we would send our letters by email and print and post them to the one member (aged 92) who is not on email. In addition, we would chat using Zoom – a new experience for a 73 year old!

Each Friday now at 2p.m. we have forty minutes to see each other, check we are all well, say what we have been up to and generally make each other feel better for the contact. I am telephoning the member not online each week to update her.

Zoom has also proved valuable for the shared reading that I do as a Stoke libraries volunteer. These sessions have, obviously been cancelled which is very sad as I know they are helpful for the benefits gained from meeting others.       I feel sorry for the group members and wonder when it will be deemed safe enough for the group to resume.

Meanwhile, members of shared reading groups in Tunstall and Longton libraries have started a Zoom group and we now “meet” each Monday morning to share a short story and poem. This is particularly beneficial for those living alone, it helps to talk and to share our thoughts on what we have read. We are not limited to forty minutes and usually 6 or 7 of us talk for about an hour and a half.

On May 11th it was my granddaughter’s 9th birthday but she lives in London. We had filmed a short video of us singing Happy Birthday which featured us together with dog and cat and this was sent to her by WhatsApp first thing on 11th. At 4pm that day we connected with the family using Zoom along with her other grandparents who are in Plymouth. She chatted with us all, showed us some of her presents, asked to see the dog and shared some of the questions she and her friends had been asked when they linked up to do a Zoom quiz together at 2p.m. There were no moans from her about her unusual birthday but I felt it was sad we could not physically give her a hug. Her six year old brother was most concerned about his ever lengthening hair, it reached the stage when his sight was blocked by his fringe so his parents gave in and he now has something we used to call a crew cut!

So, what will I remember of this time in lockdown?

I will remember the feeling of community and offers of help. When out walking with dog, most people now greet me and there is a feeling of all being a community together facing this adversity. The local group on Facebook has had a mixture of posts, some have been quite nasty and paranoid while one person asked for stories in large print and I was able to lend some of mine which felt good. It was also FB that alerted me to the trend of placing teddies in upstairs windows for children to look for when out on their daily exercise.

I will remember having to make lists of any shopping we need, not being able to just pop to Sainsbury’s as usual, having to be more organised. We were lucky to have kind neighbours shopping for us but there were many days when I looked in the fridge and wondered “what I can make into a meal!”

It was frustrating and scary but I have a great deal to be grateful for. We have enjoyed our garden, I have been posting photos of new blooms each week on Facebook, my husband has taken advantage of free time to work in the greenhouse and tackle some overdue weeding. I have read more books than usual; there is time each morning when the Guardian arrives to sit down and read it at leisure and attempt the crossword and we have also used Amazon Prime and Netflix to watch films on TV.

But I do crave a decent cappuccino and I wonder how long my hair will grow before I am allowed to visit a hairdresser!