Reasons to be cheerful

DEAR reader, I have a confession to make. I’m quite enjoying this lockdown.

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No, not exactly enjoying because that takes away my heartfelt concern for my family, our essential workers, many of my friends who, like me, are now in the ‘vulnerable’ cohort and those facing potential ruin or other financial hardship.

Let me explain a bit better. The lockdown lifestyle you are now living is pretty much how I have lived for years. You will be surprised to read that I am an introvert and possibly a closet hermit. I’m happy with my own company, plus that of the dog and a couple of cats of course, and very content pottering around Old Farm.

You will therefore imagine nothing much has changed for me then now that we are in lockdown. Not an unreasonable assumption at all and a week ago I would have agreed with you. But day by day a realisation has crept up on me that my life is getting incrementally better.

Family means an awful lot to me and I am used to regularly seeing mine around and about the farm. That void was filled by a combination of modern, internet wizardry and conversations carried out at extreme distances. In fact, I now socialise more with my kids than I did before. Because they are locked in with no outside life of their own, I am being included in their new virtual lives.

I’ve already attended three quizzes with them and one birthday party, all online and all great fun. And there will be more to come if the lockdown continues. Because I fear that once their busy lives resume such opportunities will be few and

far between.

The other great plus is that I have become less, not more, independent of my family. I dislike going out shopping and find it quite physically difficult. On-island delivery services were few and far between, meaning I was forever asking the children (youngest fast approaching 40) to pick up a loaf or some fresh fruit for me.

Now I can order just about everything I need and have it delivered in pristine condition the following day. I wonder if this will continue post-lockdown?

Then there is the big one. I’m an outdoors sort of person who loves nature and peace and quiet. Now I have that peace and quiet in spades. It’s as quiet as a 1960s Sunday in Guernsey every day of the week. As I write this all I can hear is my clicking keyboard and birds singing outside.

When I go outside for my breath of fresh air, I am amazed at the sheer variety of birdsong I can hear. It must always have been there but just drowned out by the background noise of a busy island. I can’t hear a single car and of course the sky is completely empty of planes.

Talking of fresh air, I heard Oscar Pearson on BBC Guernsey say that he believes the island smells better than it did before he went into isolation a couple of weeks ago. He is right, it smells like spring. We probably don’t notice it so much because of the usually all pervading smell of traffic fumes?

Now I fancy that the air quality is not just better but ‘crisper’ and generally just nicer. This may just be my fancy but it strikes me that when Greta Thunberg was telling us that we could all do a lot better she was right you know. In days we have begun to create our environmentally friendly, paradise island. We’ve even cut down on electricity usage (although I know our electricity is ‘environmentally friendly’, wink, wink, say no more, you know what I mean) as well as reducing our fossil fuel burn.

Now you will understand how my life has been improved by the lockdown and why I feel guilty about the pain all of the rest of you are feeling for a variety of reasons which is actually doing a great deal to protect me and others like me.

To those of you who suddenly find yourselves without an income and are worrying how you will keep a roof over your head, or those who worry that their business built up over years of hard work and toil is days away from folding, please be aware that I have experienced your pain in a previous life and know how hard that is and I wish it on no one. And to those of you who find yourselves in the misery of being locked in with an abusive partner or those who find their precarious relationships are being strained to breaking point, please know that I weep for you.

Why does it have to be a choice between a beautiful island paradise or one that provides for all and keeps everyone safe, except from global climate change.

The ramifications of this pandemic will go on long after this lockdown ends and our prosperity, such as it is, may take some time to return to normal. And for some it will never be as good as it was. I certainly wouldn’t want to be in the shoes of those making the decisions and I suggest those decisions may plague them for the rest of their lives.

However, is there some way we can capture the new community spirit we are seeing, even on social media, and some of the positivity to keep hold of some of the good things that now surround us even as we reopen Guernsey for business?

Perhaps it is time to look at how we live our lives. You have given up your freedom to roam to protect the vulnerable in our society and I personally thank you for that. Perhaps you will also be willing to cut down on car use, fly less often and generally make the sacrifices necessary to deliver the world safely to our grandchildren?

Out of this terrible darkness perhaps we can pull some light to shine upon us and make the world a better place for us all?

Makes you think, eh?

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