26th February 2021

Welcome back to yet another day of celebrating all the little ways in which you have rebelled against the Lockdowns by living your lives. It’s been wonderful to read and share these little moments as we seek to adjust the level of societal fear back to something resembling proportionality.

We have four stories for you today, including a feature piece from a paediatric mental health worker, but first up is a great snippet of how a couple of friends have mitigated the pubs being closed.

A friend and I have built ourselves a mini pub in his shed. We brew our own beer and meet for a few happy hours every weekend to watch our rubbish football team and pretend we live in a normal world. It is no exaggeration to say this oasis has kept me sane while the lunatics are running the asylum.

Our second story follows this theme of finding enterprising ways of getting the pub vibe without the pubs!

I drove from Oxford to a village near Reading last night to attend a meeting of fellow lockdown refuseniks!

We met in the upstairs room of a non-compliant café by candlelight! It was wonderful. I had a beer, I laughed, and met I some lovely people.

More of the same soon!

Our penultimate story covers examples of life-living going right back to the very beginning.

My father is a relatively fit 85-year-old living alone. After the first week of Lockdown, we went in to sort out his computer and teach him to use Zoom. It became apparent that he was losing the ability to talk and couldn’t really cope with the lack of stimulus. So, I started going in to clean his flat and to accompany him on his alarmingly long walks. My sister also visited with Sunday dinner and sorted out his house and maintenance. This has continued for the past year.

We have also had two new babies in the family, one in Nottingham and the other Poole. We live in London. We have visited both families and had them both to stay too.

At Christmas, my father was able to stay while one family was with us (and my other son snuck in around the back), and he has now cuddled all four of his great-grandchildren. He was never in any danger, we were careful. We took him on holiday to a flat in Poole to visit one grandson and, when the pubs were open, we went for pub walks.

We also managed a holiday in Grasmere with my daughter and her family, a trip to Chester and Rutland, and managed a birthday celebration in early December with 3 separate groups of 6 arriving throughout the day — the first two outside and then my sisters inside.

My husband has studied the law and we have ignored the guidance. I wouldn’t say that this year hasn’t been without its stresses, mainly caused by the last-minute changes in law, but we have managed to keep our family together and, with nine adults and three children, it has had some funny moments, like two groups on Poole beach in September meeting in the water for a swim.

And so we come to a fourth and final story today. I won’t keep you from it any longer; instead, I will just leave you in the capable hands of our anonymous paediatric mental health worker.

I’m happy to report that I haven’t ‘done’ lockdown. I support the Great Barrington Declaration and I think in the fullness of time those brave experts will be vindicated. From the very beginning, I made a decision that I would not participate in the insanity of lockdown, so I simply haven’t. It’s been much easier than I expected. I’ve had a weekly gin and tonic night with my brother and his wife and have caught up with my nephews and nieces. They are teenagers, and their friends have always been in and out of the house. Sometimes my elderly parents have come too. We’ve had family barbecues, walks, meals etc at each other’s houses. In the first lockdown, when our family business nearly went under, we met every day for strategy chats and tea and sympathy. Quite right too.

Best of all, I’ve fallen in love, I signed up for online dating in the summer as I was just so enraged at the government’s edict about relationships. I soon met a lovely chap, and, when able, we had a series of dates in restaurants and hotels. Since the tiers system and then Lockdown 3 we’ve taken not the slightest bit of notice; we stay together every weekend, and friends come over for drinks, dinner, Sunday fry-ups etc. His neighbours know my car by now and give me a nod because they are quietly breaking the rules too. I think this discrete neighbourly ‘omerta’ is taking place up and down the land; it’s the British way: you don’t bother me and I won’t bother you.

I’ve never worn a mask, and have only ever been challenged once (and that retailer is now shopped to the EHRC!). I wear a lanyard – I am in fact medically exempt but wouldn’t wear a mask even if I wasn’t – and I am always polite, I smile a LOT, but I call it my ‘invisibility cloak’. I find it a brilliant conversation starter at checkouts in the supermarket, and I love getting a wink and a thumbs up from other lanyard wearers when I’m out and about. Staff on the till are the biggest sceptics of all (the posher the supermarket, the more eye rolling they do!) and I encourage everyone to ask them about how Lockdown has been for them; you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the conversation you end up having with other people in the queue.

I’ve taken no notice of ‘essential’ journeys, it’s nobody’s business where I go, what I do, or with whom I do it. I have regular walks and meet-ups with other friends and family members, and their kids, and I generally try to act like Lockdown is not happening. Visitors have always been welcome at my home. I actually feel a responsibility to ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’, as I see so many people punch-drunk with fear, or worse, with curtain twitching moral certainty, and I think it’s important to ‘be the change you want to see’. People need to see there’s nothing to fear, and people need to realise they have no right to judge or moralise — that’s not the British way. I also feel very strongly that it’s not my job to babysit other people’s ill-disciplined feelings — if you really cannot control your fear to this extent, then you stay at home and hide under the stairs. Let the rest of us assess our own risks and make our own decisions, thank you.

This whole thing is, in my view, a posh panic, a middle-class indulgence. I’ve found the sense of entitlement just astonishing. Young, fit, healthy professionals who should have ‘taken one for the team’ in the name of herd immunity have hidden at home – all zoom yoga and banana bread – sparing not a thought for the ordinary people, often a lot older, or in poorer health in those blue-collar jobs that have had to fetch and carry for them. It’s embarrassing. I work in kids’ mental health, and I can assure your readers it’s an absolute bloodbath, what we’ve done to kids in the name of ‘safe’ should shame us all. We have a good few NHS workers in our extended circle and they are embarrassed and ashamed at what our health service has done, particularly to the elderly. I think the public are going to be absolutely disgusted at what is revealed at the inevitable public inquiry. I made a decision very early on that none of this would be done in my name.

In short, I’d really like to encourage people not to be afraid. Life does not promise us freedom from risk, and being a citizen in a democracy is not a passive thing, we have an important job to do. Lockdown isn’t something that is done to us, it’s something we are participating in every minute, something we as citizens are deciding to do or not do. We have a moral obligation as free people to think about what that actually means, what cowardice means. The only reason this lockdown is still holding is people keep doing as they are told. So, there’s no need to be rude, or offensive, or frighten other people; just quietly go about not ‘doing’ lockdown would be my advice, it’s surprisingly easy.

People – who really should know better – have repeatedly compared lockdown to the war, but this comparison is offensive, I think. During the war, ordinary people took extraordinary risks, and sacrificed a great deal because they decided that given a choice between death and freedom, they chose freedom. That’s my take on Lockdown — although the reality of ‘resistance’ has been far gentler and more prosaic: wandering into a Tesco Express without a mask is hardly equivalent to being behind enemy lines; but it is just as important I believe. If not me, then who?

Come the reckoning (and it really is coming) very many people, currently basking in smug, moral certainty are in for a very, very nasty shock. I shall enjoy their comeuppance. Until such time, my conscience is clear.

It is with that massive mic drop moment that I will leave you to have a wonderful weekend of seeing friends and family and living life as best as you can.

If you do find yourself living something resembling your best life this weekend, let us know about it. We’ll be back on Monday with more of your stories.

Get out. See a friend. Share a hug.

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