As a little bit of an introvert, I’ve always asked myself if I had a limit to staying isolated from the world. Well, with Mother Nature finally having enough and sending us all to our rooms for being bad humans, I finally have my answer. Yes, I do have a limit.
Nine days into the confinement, I realised that I missed walking further than a kilometre from my house; the freedom of going shopping without a permission slip and sneezing in public without people running for their pitchforks!
Yet, it has given me the time to reflect. Thankfully, living in a world of Skype and Whatsapp, we’re not cut off entirely. Ironically, the quarantine has brought us closer together. I have managed to keep a lot of my lessons going which have kept me anchored to reality. I have also been speaking more frequently with friends and family and I have spent more quality moments with my husband and four year old daughter. Every night we stand on the balcony to applaud the hard working nurses, and doctors and are reminded that we’re not alone.

The next question I ask myself is this: When the quarantine is lifted and we step out into the blinding sunshine, breathing in the unpolluted air, will we all be a little more considerate towards each other? I hope so. One thing is for sure, I will never look at a packet of toilet roll the same way, ever again.

Skills gained: I can make a fort out of almost anything, I know all the lyrics to Frozen’s « into the unknown »!



Lockdown thoughts

As many of you know, I’m an early bird, so my day starts at 6 o’clock. I make coffee and look at my emails before ruthlessly scanning all the news-sites to find interesting texts for my students. The biggest change to my routine at this point is that every single article on every single website is about the coronavirus, and not one of them has a ‘fun’ angle. It seems that fun has disappeared.

I then go about sanitising my living environment, needlessly wiping down surfaces in the vain belief that I’m keeping infection away from a place that nobody has visited in more than three weeks. However, as I feed my six cats at the same time, any idea that I might have a clean home disappears.

After my morning ablutions, I begin my telephone lessons, and the interaction with sharp, intelligent people energises me: together we analyse problems, find solutions and believe that when the pandemic ends, we’ll build a better society.

And that is the real positive of this strange and disturbing time: we’re all beginning to think differently about what is important in our lives, because we have to concentrate on essentials. After the love and support for our families and friends, perhaps the most essential thing is the time we have been given to reflect on the kind of society we want.

I am lucky to live in the countryside, and I spend my free time caring for my garden and watching the cycles of nature: the sudden slowdown in our lives has seen a dramatic resurgence in natural energy; in my own garden, the birds, butterflies and lizards are multiplying; further afield, wild animals are venturing into our deserted cities, and the waters of Venice are running clear and full of fish. Over the locked-down areas of Europe, pollution has dropped by 40%. In just two weeks, nature has bloomed, as if the planet were saying a great ‘Thank you’ to the all-polluting human race for taking a time-out.

I’m spending my time now wondering how we can translate this forced change in our behaviour into lasting change. Do we, together, have the power to overcome the inevitable economic crisis that will follow the pandemic, and fight together for a new world, stripped of the excesses of consumption and greed?

I am afraid that I am indulging in magic thinking, and that once things get back to the old normal, we will quickly forget. But I would like to believe that, united, our energy, intelligence and desire for something better may lead to lasting change.

 By Nick