It’s funny how life pans out sometimes. We finally think we are getting somewhere and then, suddenly out of nowhere, something happens to stop us dead in our tracks. This something may be a bereavement in the family, an illness, an accident, redundancy or a relationship break-up, to name but a few. For a while it might leave us on our knees as we struggle to come to terms with what has happened. But given time, we learn to adjust and we get up and we carry on. Things may not be the same anymore, but we adapt and we get on with life once more. There is always light at the end of tunnel, we just have to figure out how to muster the strength to move towards it.
The Corona virus, the terrifying pandemic that is currently holding the world to ransom, has us all on our knees. One minute, life is happily rolling along without a care in the world, the next, it comes crashing down before our very eyes. Normality becomes a thing of the past. I remember just a month ago, I was out celebrating my brother’s 50th birthday. We went to a pub and had a couple of pints before going to a restaurant and eating an incredible meal surrounded by large groups of people. It was just taken for granted. We were free to socialise whenever we desired. Covid 19 has taken away this liberty and who knows for how long.
On a personal level, 2020 was going to be my year. It even sounds like a good year, when you say it. I was going to finally move to Spain and live with my girlfriend of almost five years. 2019 had been a disaster for us but we survived it and were now ready to put an end to the ‘long-distance’ element of our relationship. In January I put my house on the market hoping for a quick sale. The estate agent spoke encouragingly of a buoyant market in which prices had recently been going up. I also reduced my hours at work in order to concentrate on designing my business website, still a work in progress, and also to free up time to find more work as a translator. All being well, I predicted the move to take place sometime during the summer.
Needless to say, the Corona virus has put an end to all of these dreams, for the moment anyway. Weirdly, there has not been a single person through my door to view my house recently! All interest has, not surprisingly, dried up. Similarly, on the job front, there has been no activity. Nobody needs a translator when the business world has ground to a halt. Even my Masters in Translation, studied at the Open University, has fallen foul to this deadly menace. Studying online, I believed I would be immune, but I have recently learnt that my end of module assignment has been cancelled and my result will be awarded on the basis of work already completed. I now find myself in the odd position of completing the material for the rest of the module without having to prepare for a final exam. It may be a more relaxing way to study but it hardly motivates you to work harder.
In this bizarre state of limbo that we currently find ourselves in, it is natural to worry about the future. We want to know how much longer we have to stay socially isolated from one another. It seems inevitable that we will continue in lockdown throughout April and perhaps well into May. Due to the highly contagious nature of the virus, the fear will be that allowing people to mix again too soon, may provoke another spike in numbers further down the line. It is therefore likely that it will not be before June that the Government relaxes some of its rules on social distancing. We also worry about when things will return to normal. Social distancing has been the correct response to reduce the number of infected cases but it will not get rid of the virus completely. The anxiety is that if bars, restaurants, theatres, stadiums, airports, and other public places are opened up again, the number of new cases could rise steeply once more. Therefore, ‘normality’ may not happen for a long time.
Consequently it is very difficult to predict when we can return to our ordinary everyday lives when we used to work together, drink together, eat together, watch the football together and go on holiday together. Without a vaccine we may very well be at the mercy of this invisible enemy for quite some time. And the next question is perhaps the most worrying of all. What sort of world will we be left with once this horrible disease has finally departed? How long can our economy survive without making any money? And for many businesses, how can they expect to survive once we return to normality? If huge swathes of the population cannot work for a considerable amount of time, they will have no money to spend in shops or on leisure activities. Who will buy a settee, a television, a car or a new house, who will go for a pint down the pub, and who will go on holiday if our pockets are empty? Recovery may well be a distant speck on the horizon.
The epidemic has brought out the best and the worst in people. We have seen the amazing work done by key workers, many of whom have put their lives on the line for us all. The doctors, nurses, carers, supermarket workers and everyone who has had to work during these terrible times, have been a credit to the nation. People have started to look out for one another once more. Small acts of kindness where volunteers do shopping for the most vulnerable in our society show that we do still care a great deal for each other. But we have also seen that times of crisis can bring out the worst in some. Bulk buying and a blatant disregard for social distancing meant we have all had to suffer the tighter controls the Government inevitably had to bring in. There have also been instances of unsavoury behaviour including police officers being spat at by people professing to have the virus. And in the last few days, a minority on social media responded to the news that Boris Johnson was in intensive care in hospital by wishing him dead. Unfortunately, even in these times, there will always be elements who shame our society. Boris, as Prime Minister, just as Jeremy Corbyn would have done if elected, has given nothing but his all for us during what is the worst crisis to hit this country since 1939. We need him and we wish him a speedy recovery.
So what now for the future? All we can do is pray for a quick end to the current state of affairs. Hopefully, the scientists, working tirelessly round the clock, can come up with a vaccine that will rid us of this terrible disease. If not, we just have to patiently sit tight and adapt to our new social situation. I for one, now have much more time on my hands. Ironically though, I have nowhere to go and, even if I did, I don’t have a dime to spend. All we can do is prepare for when the lockdown lifts. We can all use our time wisely and be ready for a new dawn, when it finally comes. We are on our knees but we will get up again and we will carry on. As the great man Winston Churchill once said, ‘A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty’. Who knows, maybe 2021 will be my year? After the catastrophe that is 2020 I think it will be everyone’s year!