#Lockdown ramblings

It’s 4am at the end of the 3rd week of Lockdown. And I can’t sleep. Again.

There are so many posts I’ve intended to write for this blog, and in recent months, just not had the time. I’d intended to post about the books I’ve written, the photography work I’ve had, the places I’ve been to. But time has been consistently lacking for far too long.

That however, now seems to be crawling to a snail’s pace. Lockdown reduces our options to such a limited range. And even though I’ve been lucky to have the distraction of some work to do over the last month, lockdown is really hard to cope with.

I’ll be honest, I don’t cope well with frustration, or with officialdom “for the sake of it”. But I do understand that there are times when we need to pull together and follow instructions to the best of our ability. Even when those instructions aren’t always clear, or even in some cases make no sense. (For example, that those within the first 7 days of the virus (ie highly infectious) can still wander around in public under essentially the same rules as the rest of us. To me that just doesn’t make sense – particularly if the whole point of lockdown is to prevent transmission.)

But the thing with this is that we’re all human. And the dire situation we’re in, is bringing out both the very best and the very worst in us.

The best in us includes the caring compassionate side, that’s looking after those nearest and closest to us – both physically in in our hearts, doing the best to minimise our own risks and making the best of the situation.

The worst in us includes the excesses of the police apparently enjoying making up non-existent laws and their attempts to turn us into a police state, the media who are printing fake news, or uncorrected errors of others (even after the error has been “clarified”) and whose words are intended to turn sectors of society against each other, the vigilanteism of those who seem to think they are lawmakers and judges and have the right to bar others from essential, still-legal, activities.

  • 99% of us are doing the best we can.
  • 99% of us are probably failing in minor ways.
  • But that 99% is so much better than even 50%.
  • Striving for 100% isn’t achievable. No human is perfect.
  • Zero tolerance is doomed to failure and is likely to cause collapse of the 99% we have achieved.
  • Along with collapse of trust in each other and community spirit and mutual support and co-operation.

To those who are delighting in tittle tattle, telling others what they can’t do, shaming others for their views on what is acceptable:

  • Everyone has their own views on risk – what is high risk, what is low risk and what is in between.
  • Everyone has their own views on what is most likely to transmit the virus and what is sufficiently least risk that it’s not worth worrying about.
  • Everyone has their own views on what is local
  • Everyone has their own views on what is essential
  • No-one’s views will match exactly!
  • That doesn’t mean that any individual is wrong. Or that any individual is right. Just that we have different opinions.
  • A lot of what we perceive as risky, local or essential is very subjective*.
  • You almost certainly don’t know why other people feel the need to do what they’re doing. But there’s often a good reason if you stop to ask.
  • And for the 1% who aren’t co-operating as best as they can. Yes, they probably are being selfish and stupid. They probably are putting people at risk. But they’re also being human. And they’re not the only factor in virus transmittion.
  • 1% non-cooperation still is so much better than 50% or 90% non-cooperation. That 1% really won’t make as much difference as some seem to perceive.
  • Be kind to others. Even if their views are different, nearly all of them are trying hard to reduce the risks too.

* Subjective – In a crowded city, a 300m journey may be high risk, pass 1000’s of people, be a long distance in relative terms and go well beyond the nearest shops to home. In a very rural area, you may have to drive 50 miles to get to the nearest shop and pass 1 other person on the way. And everything in between. So exact amounts, identical for everyone, just don’t work.

People’s perceptions of what is “risky” varies hugely too – which is the highest risk of a gatepost latch, a narrow footpath beside a road, a parcel through the post, a previously-busy A road, a village shop, a supermarket, a wide track, fake news, a pharmacy, a narrow footpath,a wide open country space, people not keeping 2m apart, people staying widely apart but travelling some distance to get their shopping or exercise?
It’s almost certain that if you ask a group of 10 people you will get get 10 different viewpoints!

So before you go whinging on social media that anyone has done something you don’t think you would…

Just stop and think. We’re all struggling, we’re all trying to do the best we can. And just because everyone is failing in minor ways does not mean that overall we’re failing at lockdown, that it will be “the cause” of your relative getting ill, or that snitching and bitching about it will do anything other than sow discord or cause additional stress to what’s already a very rough situation.

After all, if you’ve stayed at home all day every day, and “not put yourself in any risk”, have you made a hot drink, walked up or down some stairs, used an electric appliance, had a bath, done cooking, cleaning or DIY? All of those have a degree of risk, and all cause accidents that cause people to end up in hospital. But you view them as “acceptable” because nearly everyone does them.

Walking, cycling and running are all excellent ways of getting essential exercise, boosting your mental and physical health and your immune system too. Sunlight and fresh air was known to be a factor in reducing transmission of past global pandemics such as the flu, so it would seem sensible that it should be of benefit to COVID. (Yes, nothing is certain and little is known about this virus, but it makes more sense than crowding folks together indoors without fresh air or sunlight for 23/24 hours a day!) And some folks will stop to rest briefly during exercise, enjoy the sunlight and fresh air, walk or cycle on rougher ground, or seek out quieter places. It doesn’t neccessarily mean they are risking themselves or others. Or that they will have an accident – or even if they do that they will neccessarily rely on others to help them. Or that they are causing others to congregate around them – particularly if they have chosen a quiet space to begin with.

Staying at home has other risks too – to mental health, to breakdown of family relations (even the best of families will argue when spending all day every day in a small space together), domestic violence, accidents in the home and illness through a far too sedentary a lifestyle currently being enforced on us. It’s only because the risks of mass numbers of people being infected and needing hospital treatment at a rate which cannot be provided that is overriding those risks to a large extent. But they are risks none the less, and should not be ignored. Which I presume is why we do have the freedom to exercise outdoors away from home.

So do the best you can, stay as local to home as you can, give others as much space as you possibly can, and 2m or ideally more unless it’s impossible in that circumstance (in which case, perhaps next time take a different route, or shop at a different time etc to reduce that risk of that reoccurring?).

But please don’t snitch and bitch – it’s making social media an intolerable place when it should be a place that’s providing one of the few means left of connecting with each other as well as dividing people who need to support each other.

And think about what you do as much as you can before you do it – so that you really are doing as best as you can in this dire situation and reducing the risk of transmission as much as is humanly possibly – without killing everyone through means other than COVID or destroying human compassion and kindness as a result!