24th March 2021

Today we’re publishing a story that made me rather emotional.

When I decided to set up Lockdown? What Lockdown? I set out with the same ambition I set out with when I write anything: if I can have a positive impact on one life, then I will have done something worthwhile.

What’s so wonderful about this website though is that I get to hear how you all are finding ways to be positive without me really having to do anything, and that has had such a positive impact on my life; so, at this point, I want to offer up the sincerest of thanks for all of your tales.

But that’s enough about me, onto our story for today…

We had our first Stand in the Park yesterday with over 60 people, which is massive for the Isle of Wight; and we’re confident we’ll have many more next week. But this isn’t just massive for the Island, it’s also massive for me; because, from not being in contact with anyone, I’ve now been able to do what I’ve wanted to do for the past year: I’ve managed to link people to an Island group of sceptics.

This website is not responsible for the gathering, but it is responsible for my being there and regaining that feeling of acceptance and being back in the swim of having friends, which I honestly thought was lost forever. I’ve also found that the skills I have in coming up with ideas, encouraging others and widening the circle are as valued in this technological age as in any other.

I’d wanted to so much to be able to send in a positive story about having had a hug or whatever, but one never came along. Now though, I’ve had multiple hugs, so, here’s my story.

I’ve really struggled over the past year. In the past I had confidence that all that was needed was a good idea and enough energy to make it happen. I’d put a notice in the local library, or sometimes a newspaper, and there would always be a response, so I learned there were a lot of people out there looking for like-minded contacts. 

Despite the deprivations of Lockdown, I actually thought it would be a good opportunity to meet like-minded people, as there would be lockdown sceptics out there keen to make contact, as I am.

The “new normal” seems to be an increasingly virtual world, and I have been strongly resistant to online meetings and social media. I contacted a few people I knew by email, but all seemed to have given up. 

For months I was putting considerable energy in to following up any lead I could find, but with absolutely no positive response, so my efforts were leaving me feeling drained and depressed. I didn’t even get a response from a lockdown sceptic forum, even though there were people who live locally.

The only sense I could make of it must be that my age was putting people off. I didn’t seem to have had a problem in my forties and fifties, but now I’d reached 60.  

As I’m increasingly out of touch with modern means of communication I felt doubly rejected. First as a social pariah, for being a sceptic and not wearing a mask etc., and second because the traditional methods of correspondence to which I am so accustomed have become a dead art. 

Having got to this point, I found Lockdown? What Lockdown?

I rarely cry – and have not done so at any point during the lockdown, but the first story I read brought tears to my eyes. It was so beautiful and a beam of light in a year in which the only relief has been black humour.  

I was so very deeply moved that I wrote to you, to thank you, and to my amazement you replied. The reason I was amazed is that this was the first time I’d received a reply from anyone I’d reached out to in the entire year.  And you gave me good advice, which was to sign up to “The Great Recovery”.

To do that I had to open a Telegram account. 

Having no experience at all with this kind of thing, I found the whole ordeal an enormous struggle. And then, when I finally succeeded, the posts confirmed my worst fears about social media. Most seemed absolutely not worth spending time reading and I felt even more like a relic from the past, now completely out of touch with current ways of doing things and of absolutely no interest to anyone.

However, I persevered, and eventually found a group for sceptics on the Isle of Wight.

Yesterday there was the first Stand in the Park gathering on the Island which over 60 people attended, of which I was one. This was the first of what will now be weekly events and I am sure numbers will grow rapidly in the coming weeks.

Your encouragement helped me at a very dark time. Not only have I now made some new friends, but I’ve also got to grips with this way of communicating.  Admittedly, it’s still not my preferred medium, but because it’s a group of sceptics, who enjoy meeting face to face, most people in the group are now real people to me and not just names.  

Some old acquaintances I’d contacted previously were depressed and lacked motivation to link up, but now I’ve been able to tell them about this real, happening and growing event and they’re keen to come along. 

And, although I’m not much interested in the general posting, through social media I’ve been able to add new people to the group. I have a particular interest in finding ways to reach out to people who are not on social media. And my fears that my age is an issue have also been allayed. When people have interests and enthusiasms in common, age is not an issue. Everyone’s just happy to see everyone.

A happy little tearjerker is that one person at the Stand in the Park had 60 people singing Happy Birthday to her.  She’d had a particularly hard time and had lost her partner, and for her to experience this support and fellow feeling was a moving and wonderful thing, and, as it turned out, the second time tears have come to my eyes in the past year.

This website is not responsible for the gathering, but it is responsible for my being there and regaining that feeling of acceptance and being back in the swim of having friends, which I honestly thought was lost forever.  

Following a very grim year, I now have a sense of a future for myself. We all held hands and we hugged and lovely things were said to each other. I made new friends and also renewed contact with old friends I’d lost contact with.  

From the bottom of our hearts, thank you for sending this in, and, if anyone else reading this is on the Isle of Wight, or you know of someone who is, please share this with them. The value of humanity is in our togetherness, and we will be together again, soon, I promise.

But, for now, keep up the excellent work of looking out for one another, and remember…

Get out. See a friend. Share a hug.

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