The last normal …

We have now been in lockdown for 78 days and we are very slowly beginning to be allowed to meet others outside from our household, in the open air with social distancing. Shops will start to reopen from next Monday and primary schools are opening for limited year groups. There’s no news on pubs, restaurants, cafes, cinemas, theatres and the one I’m desperate for hairdressers. We have no idea when we will be able to visit people in their houses and stay a night away from our homes. When things reopen all is going to look very different. This has got me thinking about the last normal, when we didn’t realise what was coming. I look back on a couple of weekends with fondness now, at the time, they were just normal.

At the beginning of February, Little Miss was in her school’s production. It was a new time of the school year to do the show, but had been designed not to distract Year 11s from exams. The timing meant that of all the school productions due to be done this academic year, it was one of the few which happened. This was the last time I saw my parents who came down to watch the show on Thursday evening, before they flew to Thailand for a 3 week holiday. It seems so strange now that despite news about a virus that they still travelled and then returned home with no health checks. On the Friday, I went to do some collaborative work with a sister school with my colleague, meeting up with our peers, it was a really useful day and promises made for further visits and joint work, which are all are currently on hold. On the Saturday, my father in law came to stay for the weekend so he too could see Little Miss in the show, my sister and brother in law also decided to do this on an impromptu visit. My over riding memory is of us all in the fish and chip café in between performances, a big, loud table full of family, pots of tea and steaming plates of chips, it really is the simple moments which are the most precious. After the final performance, Little Miss and I stayed for a drink and dance in the theatre bar. The bar was packed, noisy and hot, reminiscent of Saturday nights out in my 20s and just brilliant. It felt a grown up moment with my daughter, chatting, high on excitement as we walked home on possibly that latest she had ever been out. This weekend filled with family has got me through those low moments in lockdown and the promise that we will get back to normal.

The final normal weekend was March 7th and 8th, it was a weekend when we knew something might be changing, but at the time it was all about hand washing. I did my parkrun, it was the penultimate parkrun and talk was about the possibility of postponing upcoming marathons, we hoped parkrun would be safe with perhaps a few alterations. After parkrun, I picked up Little Miss from her drama session at the local youth club and we headed to ‘big town’ for some shopping and lunch. Its these things I miss so much now, popping into a coffee shop for lunch. I remember treating Little Miss to a ruby pink hot chocolate which made her happy. I don’t always spoil the children, but I’m so pleased I did it on this day, no point waiting for treats which can’t happen now, carpe diem! We had to buy a birthday present for my nephew, we got summer swim shorts and matching flip flops for his upcoming holiday to Florida, I never imagined it would not happen and the virus would cause Disney Land to close. Fortunately as I was in the summer section I picked up a few shorts and t-shirts for my son as they had his size, these were very useful purchases and has taught me to pick up the things I will need when I see them, you never know what will happen to change your plans. Lockdown has given us the sunniest, hottest and driest spring on record and these clothes have been worn lots.

On the Sunday, we were still limited in our walks because of the storms and we walked through the botanical gardens of a neighbouring town, finishing up with a pub lunch. Whilst this sounds idyllic it was cold, windy and showery on the walk and the pub was packed as people tried to avoid the rain. I do remember having hand sanitizer in my bag and making everyone use it before the food, given the packed pub I’m not sure if the virus had been in the air that we could have avoided it given the lack or knowledge of social distancing. I’m not sure what we did after we came home, but I presume it was watching the football on Sky, ironing the school and work shirts and getting ready for the coming week. The ordinary which has now become the extraordinary.

Our normal will return, but for my wellbeing, I am working on this being a long term project. If it happens quickly, I will be delighted and relieved. I’m looking forward to the normal things on a weekend, a parkrun, a trip to the coffee shop, popping into shops, listening to the football results at 4.45pm on a Saturday afternoon, Sunday pub lunches and having school and work shirts to iron again. I will be so grateful for normal.

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