Friday, 5 June 2020

The last normal photo on my phone

I really enjoyed reading this article on the BBC the other week - The last 'normal' photo on your phone - and so I thought I'd share mine!

This photo was taken on Saturday 14th March at Goring Beach. Ram was very ill from mid February onwards (with all the Covid-19 signs and symptoms, although unable to be tested as he hadn't been to China!) and so we hadn't been out as a family for a while. As the number of cases increased in the UK he stayed at home as much as he could. He is higher risk with asthma and as he was still recovering we wanted to keep him as safe as possible.

Children on Goring Beach, Worthing

The beach was busy that afternoon, but people were starting to become aware of keeping their distance. This was our last visit to the beach for a long time! We walked to a closer stretch once during lockdown for our daily exercise, but it was a long way and the children complained. It's only been over the last week or so that we've been returning to the beach in the car. Even then we only go during the evening as we don't want to face the crowds during the day.

That evening I went to the theatre to watch Jane Eyre. It was a strange performance because one of the actresses was ill (we were told not to worry, it was unrelated to the virus!) and was replaced by a last minute stand in. She did a brilliant job, reading from a script on stage. But looking back I wonder if the company were desperate to give what became on of their last performances. It was becoming clear that theatres would be closing very soon and that their tour (which should currently be in China) would be forced to stop.

We received an e-mail a couple of days before reassuring us that the theatre was safe to visit, and there were signs to remind us to wash our hands. With Ram's health in mind I did feel anxious sitting down in such close proximity to others. There was definitely a hushed atmosphere on the night, but when I came out of the auditorium I didn't see anyone else using the provided hand sanitiser.

I went to the theatre with a friend that I normally meet every week for a hot drink and cake. I dropped her home at the the end of the evening, and I told her that I couldn't meet that week as we'd decided as a family not to go out for a little while unless it was necessary. I honestly only believed it would be for a few weeks, and that seemed long enough. In the end it was well over two months before I saw her again, sitting on a picnic blanket at the beach and keeping 2 metres apart! I can't imagine when we'll be able to meet in a cafe again.

Looking back, it's hard to believe how quickly everything shut down. The signs of impending doom were there for a few weeks (I have photos on my phone prior to this one showing empty shelves in the supermarket) but I think even at this point we were in total denial about how long this was really going to go on for. I definitely thought that the children would be back in school and back to normal after the Easter holidays, and now I can't believe how naive I was!

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