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A week of lockdown over and I am trying hard not to succumb to cabin fever. The news is stark, and having initially watched every bulletin, scanned every article and endlessly discussed the notion that life as we know it will never quite be the same again, I realise that this is doing me no good. Of course we need to be informed, but an overload of this global catastrophe has my mood swinging violently between manic flurries of cheery optimism – cue very loud music whilst producing a culinary marvel for my girls (and no – not a first, since you ask!) – to languishing gloomily on the sofa with the dog, to just buckling down and getting on with the huge amounts of work that – to be fair – does keep me more than occupied now that I am working from home. 

But what is happening across the world and right here on our own doorstep is overwhelming. Our panic is palpable and brings with it every emotion in the book. What we read, what we see on every form of social media we seem to be scouring daily, and each virtual conversation we have with our now isolated family and friends means normality can no longer exist – something that up until now we have very much taken for granted – and something we are definitely going to have to get used to. A new kind of normal.

What will be interesting is if this new kind of normal brings with it a better and more caring world for all of us. It’s too easy – yet so understandable – to get caught up in the fabric of our immediate existence and those we chose to share that with. Of course we think about others, but for many of us only in a way that skirts around the edges of our thinking as we live our lives consumed with families, friends, work and personal obligations. This confinement and what is happening not just here but across the globe means that collectively we are coming together and really thinking about the wider communities around us.

Watching and being a part of #ClapForOurCarers as the entire country stood together on doorsteps, in the street or leaning out of windows was beyond moving. And it made us think. On a much deeper level now we understand and appreciate the phenomenal commitment and loyalty of those who are working tirelessly in such challenging circumstances and at risk to themselves. We are all now actively thinking more about the homeless, about people who live alone, those who struggle with their mental health, who suffer domestic abuse, and we are worrying about the job security and financial stability of the masses who will be affected by this. Collectively we are so much more aware and alert to the difficulties of everyone around us. This has to be a good thing going forwards.

Once this is all over, the jobs I have been putting off for a good ten years may well be done, the house a gleaming show home, annoying cupboard under the sink littered with old plastic bags and cleaning products I didn’t know I’d bought all cleared, my cooking repertoire spectacular, drawers sorted, wardrobe ordered, I’ll be Queen of Scrabble, a jigsaw addict, I’ll know every single walk in the vicinity and might even have mastered how to speak Russian. But what’s more important – once this really is all over – is that hopefully we will emerge on the other side so much more aware of the communities around us in a kinder, compassionate and more caring world. 

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