25th February 2021

Thank you to all of you who have taken the time to send in your stories; they’ve come in thick and fast, and so many of them are making us smile, so, really, please do keep them coming.

Last thing before we get to your stories for today; I had been assured that I would be getting a story or two from students currently living in London. These stories have failed to materialise. When I harassed those who’d assured me they’d be sending in stories, this was the response I received:

“I’m so sorry, we’re legit partying too hard to have time to tell you how hard we’re partying.”

Stay tuned though — I’m sure we’ll hear from them soon!

Today, we’re kicking off with an excellent story from Richmond, London.

In the past couple of weeks, me and my partner have seen our siblings — in public settings outside our immediate area — and found these experiences made us feel normal, they refreshed us and re-energised us after a tough few months during which we have both struggled with our mental health. Seeing my girlfriend back to her old self after months was wonderful; I haven’t felt so warm since before the winter.

The experience on Sunday was particularly notable. The three of us — me, my partner, and her sister — sat by the riverside in Richmond, enjoying cheap ciders and casual chats on the first warm day in a while. We were surrounded by groups of people — clearly not all from the same households, and with a great spread in age — doing the same.

The atmosphere was pleasant, convivial, even communal in the sense of relief to be achieving some sort of normality in the haze of the late afternoon. The panic-stricken bleatings of Clive Myrie seemed a long way off. “We’re all scared”? No, not quite. It seems now the only people who really are scared are those who fail to understand how vaccines will and do work, or how the virus itself behaves.

For the first time it really felt like normal life may return at some point, and sooner than I’d previously hoped.

We share your hopes and optimism of a speedy return to normality, and that this website will soon become superfluous to requirements.

While Lockdown? What Lockdown? is intended to provide a dose of joy and hopefulness, we must remember that there are those who have managed to find ways of looking after themselves in spite of the regulations and yet have still struggled a great deal. Today’s second story comes from an individual who told us, “the anger and helplessness [they] feel right now cannot be measured.”

The reasons for this anger and helplessness? The removal of personal freedoms; how little others seemed to care; the criminalisation of normal life; and the behaviours of the Government.

So, how have I broken “the rules” or “guidance” or whatever you want to call them? What I won’t do is call them “laws” because they are not laws that any sane person would recognise or abide by.

I have during all versions of lockdown and various tier restrictions, and in no particular order:
– Met up with family and friends on a regular basis both inside homes and outside;
– Hugged and kissed family and friends on a regular basis;
– Ignored social distancing completely, especially in the company of strangers;
– Refused to wear a mask in any setting where it is required. If challenged (which is rare), I simply say that I am exempt. I’m not, but if the Government is going to lie to me, then I will lie to them;
– Travelled outside my local area and gone to work even though I can easily work from home;
– Sat on park benches on my own and with friends;
– Had a drink in a pub without ordering a “substantial meal”;
– Visited and entered the house of my 85-year-old mother regularly even during the first lockdown; and
– Had a lock-in at a pub where all rules were ignored and you could drink standing up at the bar.

I’m sure there are others… Does this make me a “Covidiot”? A “granny killer”? “Socially irresponsible”?

None of the above. What I am is someone who has had to look after themselves during a time when we’ve been neglected by the NHS, the institution we were asked to clap for throughout that neglect (I did not), the institution that was established to protect us.

We hear your frustration, and we hope that we will be able to stand at a bar with you one day very soon!

Our next story today is short and sweet and points out that there may be more cars on the road than pre-lockdown. Has anyone else noticed this? I found myself in a traffic jam on the M25 on Saturday; no accident, no workforce in the road, and certainly not a build up of commuters…

I drove to my local supermarket at 8.30 yesterday morning (24/2/21) and I had to wait longer than non-lockdown periods at two junctions — I can just about remember the difference.

Outside of my house a gentleman, about 65, is walking up and down with a toddler. It’s beautiful to watch. We’ve finished with lockdown.

Fourth up today is a wonderful brief story of a multigenerational family gathering, and the inspiration for today’s feature image — if you’re not familiar with Bob Moran’s work, you’re going to want to familiarise yourself, and I promise you won’t be disappointed.

My 56-year-old wife is driving from Staffordshire to Shropshire with our daughter (22) and 6-month-old grandson to be with their 90-year-old mother, grandmother, great grandmother, as she has been doing for weeks. Edie is in the final stages of her life and she will be with her family as much as possible, not left to die alone and miserable as our dictators would have it.

From us here at Lockdown? What Lockdown?, we wish Edie all the best and hope that the final stages of her life are filled with many hugs from her daughter, granddaughter, and great-grandson, and that she gets to experience so much joy from this day until her last.

Our fifth and final story for today highlights the absurdity of this website perfectly.

Not much to say, really. I’m lucky that I live in the same town as my elderly mum and dad. They still live together in their own home.

We did the ‘social distancing’ thing initially, until one visit when my dad stumbled in the hallway, and I ran in to stop him from falling over.

At that point, we all realised what a ridiculous concept ‘social distancing’ is, and we agreed we’d go back to normal.

I was round there only yesterday for a couple of hours, before driving them to the seafront for a short walk and an ice cream!

By the way, it was a bit cold for ice cream really, but it was nice anyway!

We loved this story — its simplicity, its normality; but, why, oh why, do we need a website that brings to light stories of someone going for a walk and grabbing an ice-cream with their parents?

Anyway! That’s all from us today, folks. Remember to spread the word — we’re not all done with Lockdown until we’re all done with Lockdown!

Finally, do tune in for tomorrow’s update. We received an absolute blinder of a piece from an individual who works in paediatric mental health that we will be publishing in full and is well, well worth waiting for and reading.

Get out. See a friend. Share a hug.

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