What do you most hate about lockdown? Okay, this isn’t really a proper lockdown as such, because most of us are living – and working – a version of normal, certainly far more than in the first lockdown, more shops are open than last time and more of us are out and about, walking, cycling and generally doing anything to alleviate the boredom. I hate not being able to do the things, and go to places, that lift my mood and make it worth getting out of bed.
It’s nice having plenty of time to continue my failed writing career. I can pour my few remaining creative juices into this blog and soon, with any luck, complete and self-publish my non-awaited follow-up to my best-selling (!) book ‘Corfu, not a scorcher’ (it is no coincidence that I mention that book since I flew to Corfu on this day in 2015 to research it). If I was unable to write for my loyal reader, I’m not sure I would have the mental strength to go on.
Today, I would love to play golf, even on my own. A brisk walk in the countryside, plus around 100 swings of my clubs, gives me such a lift in all sorts of ways. It’s good exercise and it sets my mind free. But the government has decreed that while it’s perfectly okay to visit a garden centre or an off licence, a round of socially distanced golf cannot be permitted. So, that’s out.
I like to drive to Bristol Airport AKA Adge Cutler International to watch the planes landing and taking off. Dressed in anorak and flat cap, with my flask of coffee and daily newspaper to hand, no one can bother me. I can head to Battery Point at Portishead, by the Merchant Navy monument, gazing across the Bristol Channel where my dad, the younger Anthony Johansen, would sail and where his ashes, as well as his father’s, are scattered. I can go to the remnants of Pilning Station and watch the expresses thunder to and from Wales, the daunting blackness of the Severn Tunnel just down the slope. I can get the Metrobus into town, and visit Rough Trade and HMV to look through and inevitably buy some new, or old, music. For now, I can do some of these things, even if they are against government rules and I cannot do the others.
At least I don’t have COVID-19, the reason why normality has been suspended Ad Infinitum. And I understand it, to an extent at least. I get why record shops are closed, I get why pubs are closed, I even get why outdoor sports have been outlawed, which is all about consistency and not having one thing open and another closed: just close the lot.
I also get it why I can’t drive somewhere out of my area because what if my car breaks down or I have an accident or fall ill? Someone has to rescue me. Probably not the best use of time for emergency and rescue services. So, the answer about what I hate most about lockdown is pretty well all of it. But pretty well all of it doesn’t mean all of it. The lockdown, deeply flawed though it is, saves lives, tens of thousands of them. Until the vaccine is rolled out across the land, we do what we have to. It’s shit, it makes people with good mental health have bad mental health, it makes people with bad mental health have even worse mental health.
My guess is that I will be able to resume mishitting golf balls, as well as plane and trainspotting, sometime from April onwards. Unless, that is, enough people refuse vaccines, in which case we’ll be stuck in this mess for years to come. But that’s another story. In the meantime, I’ll lock myself down when I can and dream of normal.