I wrote these during the first lockdown last year. The colours for each month represent the emotions I was feeling at the time!
COVID CHRONICLE 2020
Somewhere inside the Rainbow!
by Bett Cloutman
JANUARY = RED (Flare-up)
It is late January, and I read in the newspapers that some ‘nasty’ disease is spreading throughout China. We then see the news media being peppered with more isolated cases and are becoming aware of growing concern about the uncertainty surrounding this mysterious virus. But it is far away – nothing to be concerned about here in England. However, like a distant drum roll slowly, but relentlessly getting louder, it is obvious this is something to be taken seriously.
FEBRUARY = PURPLE (menacing)
Rumours from China confuse us; South Korea is in lockdown. The EU is making plans to obtain testing equipment and protective measures to be in place when the plague-like conditions hit the continent. Unlike Westminster, they are preparing for the worst. “Hello Prime Minister…?”
MARCH = BLUE (Blues)
The unease is mounting all around us. People are beginning to panic buy and there is a vast shortage of, above all things, toilet rolls and tins of tomatoes and baked beans. Does this sum up the British physique? My husband and I, being over eighty, hear that we are being counted as vulnerable persons. It is hammered home to us that all elderly people are AT RISK. We are supposed to self- isolate – I called it self-containment!
I will always remember the day of shutdown, in the middle of March. Our little village club had a rowdy last night and then closed until further notice. Quite shocking! The next day I had to collect some papers from the solicitors in town and found their door tightly shut. A notice to ring the bell and stand clear of any staff when they answered, chilled me to the core.
Since then, of course, the mounting horrors of deaths and financial struggles seem to swamp everything. I can only compare it to a sudden injury, where the pain is sharp and acute. Then inertia, stiffness and aching sets in, followed by the realisation that the road to recovery will be long and arduous. This month I am depressed thinking about my limited years ahead, and the jolt many teenagers are having to bear. Businesses closing, and the long term effects social distancing will have on the very young. We decide to renew our Wills!
APRIL = GREEN (Spring)
During late March I became aware of early birdsong and greenery budding everywhere. Burgeoning blossom in glorious sunshine is like nature’s champagne! I am so lucky to live in a village with my husband and pets. Chats with family and a few villagers each day keep me sane - ‘spaced out’ now has a new meaning - and the weekly food boxes they’ve arranged are a life-saver.
We are reasonably healthy, give or take a few creaky bones. I walk the dog every day and occasionally we have a little jaunt in the car across the Somerset Levels so I can walk on flat ground. Once, when parked by the road, I saw a police car pull up and put a warning sign on the windscreen and take a photo of our car. Feelings of both guilt and outrage rose within me. How have I come to being treated like a criminal at the other end of a long and varied life?
I can’t help noticing that my peers are stoically taking all this in their stride. It is heartening to see the imaginative ideas that people are putting into practice and so much innovation going on, spurring us all to combat boredom. I don’t suffer from that affliction, which is why I have not yet attempted to tackle my list of “Things to do in Lockdown”, but carried on with my hum drum life and trying to keep to a daily routine.
While I feel desperately sorry for the people on frontline jobs and those who’ve lost their livelihood, the air is clearer, wildlife is certainly more free and people are learning that there’s more to life than being frantically busy and find they can have meaningful time with each other.
Yes, I’m hoping May will be a yellow month for all, and for me now in the rainbow of my life!
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FEBRUARY 2021 = Yes – late summer gave us a few days of hope and respite – but how quickly colours fade to grey in the Winter! Bring on Spring 2021