Charlotte Philby's trying to keep zen and hold on to the positives of lockdown life but she's pretty angry too
I’m going to be honest, I miss my old life. I miss a reality that doesn’t include my four-year-old son screaming ‘A FATHER MUST FIGHT FOR THE DIGNITY OF THE SON!’ as I try to work from home. He’s seen all 72 episodes of Ninjago on a loop over the past five and a half months as I have attempted to edit my third novel and plan my fourth while my second, A Double Life, hits the shelves. All whilst homeschooling three children…. Stay with me on this, there are work/life balance lessons coming.
While I hanker for a return to some semblance of normality, I will not be celebrating. I know I am very lucky. My family is healthy, I still have a job whilst the country finds itself on the brink of recession, yet I’m making a vow to myself that I will not forget the lessons learned in lockdown. I will not forget the great things four months at home have reminded me of – be it the power of community , supporting local business, or the majesty of the natural world.
And I refuse to be pulled back into a world that hasn’t worked for a long time, without asking myself what I want to take forward with me as we finally emerge.
I will remember how lucky we are
I thought working between drop-offs and pick-ups was a challenge but compared to lockdown, I see my life was breezy. Today I miss taking the kids to the park and watching them scramble freely over other children on a climbing frame. I’d love to see my friends minus the weird configurations no-one seems quite able to comprehend. And I sort of miss hugging.
I miss the time when we had an innate belief in the fragile structures we rely on to prop up an otherwise chaotic universe. I miss the at least partial hope that in such a time of national crisis the government might show something other than total contempt for the nation it was elected to serve.
Time for real change
With new poll claiming that only 6% of the UK public want to go back to pre-pandemic times, it’s seems the mood is definitely changing as we head out of lockdown. The rampant inequalities exacerbated by the pandemic have left 49% of those surveyed determined to see big changes in the way society is run.
It seems it’s not just me that’s missed the naïve hope that we could rely on those in charge to make decisions, if not from a place of total competence – I’m not that naive – then at least with the slightest deference to science or ethics. Or, hey, the basic needs of its citizens. A YouGov poll revealed 31% of people surveyed want to see big changes in the way the economy is run. It also showed 44% were pessimistic when they thought about the future of the economy, while only 27% were optimistic.
So, yes, I’m not alone when I say I miss imagining the government might prioritise the institutions that provide a basic life-line for so many. That wouldn’t it be refreshing to have politicians determined to get a generation of children back to school, instead of being stuck with ones who deem the re-opening of horse-racing and theme parks more important.
‘We can’t return to normal, because the normal we had was precisely the problem’ a message that went viral as the world locked down and it’s a lesson we must never forget.
* A Double Life by Charlotte Philby is published by Borough Press and on sale now