The things you might miss once lockdown has ended
Slowly but surely, lockdown is coming to an end. But what, you might say, will we do when it’s all over?
To our surprise, parts of lockdown haven’t been that bad.
We’ve enjoyed the sound of birdsong from our window and enjoyed being off the road during the Monday morning, lung-choking journey to work.
That’s not the only thing we’ve enjoyed and as we assess an unprecedented two months at home, key questions emerge: Will we be allowed to wear pyjamas in the office or slippers in the classroom? Will colleagues frown upon us if we haven’t dyed our roots or taken part in the Friday night drinks party on Zoom? What will they say when they realise we spent lockdown watching Piers Morgan destroy politicians while eating pizza, rather than staying fit in a Joe Wicks’ PE session?
As the Government sets out its timetable for a return to school and for shops to re-open, it’s time to look back over a unique two months in which Britain ground to a halt.
We can reflect on the things we’ve loved and loathed about lockdown, consider what we’re dreading and fondly remember the unexpected lockdown highlights.
Here, then, is our essential guide as we focus on what we’ll miss about lockdown – and what we fear about the ‘new normal’...
Pubs and restaurants
It won’t be long until the Government sets out its timetable for a return to quaffing real ale, cheeky gin’n’tonics or a glass of deliciously fruity red wine.
Pubs are the lifeblood of our communities – and something to look forward to as the working week turns into the weekend.
When they re-open, however, they may be almost unrecognisable from what we used to love.
We won’t be able to stand at the bar with a drink, we won’t be able to crowd around the games machine to fritter away lose change.
Social conversations, where tables join up with tables, will be replaced by the quiet hush of polite chatter.
Screens may separate us and we’re more likely to grab a handful of hand sanitiser than dry roasted peanuts when we’re ordering our next pint.
If we visit a local restaurant, we’ll be physically distanced from our nearest neighbours, being placed further away than before.
And we may be asked to leave if we ask someone to pass the salt and vinegar – who knows what germs the bottle of Sarsons will hold.
Restaurants will have fewer staff, smaller menus and less choice. But, at least they’ll still do the washing up.
Kindness and patience
Social mores that were acceptable pre-lockdown are frowned upon.
It’s no longer OK to scowl at the cashier in Sainsburys if she takes too long, to barter with the £6 car wash man and knock him down to £5, or to flip the bird at an irate motorist at the traffic roundabout.
We’re not supposed to be at the traffic roundabout anyway – just like Dominic Cummings.
The impatience and impoliteness inbuilt into our 100mph society has been forsaken for a new kindness.
We have finally recognised that it’s nice to be nice, that helping others gives us a sense of purpose while providing ties that bind.
If there’s one quality we ought not to lose as we emerge from lockdown, it’s kindness.
The 1950s seem as though they might not have been that bad.
Traffic levels on our road have fallen to levels not seen for 70 years as people have stayed home.
And that’s meant essential journeys have been carried out in relative peace; without a screaming boy racer pulling up to the bumper, an irate White Van Man treating the road like a dodgem rink, or an elderly driver pootling along at 23mph in a 50mph zone.
The roads have been clear, the air has been fresh and driving has been pleasurable and safe. Gradually, that’s coming to an end.
Construction trucks and delivery wagons fill the streets and soon the roads outside our schools will resemble a football stadium car park at 3pm on a Saturday as parents jostle for the final space.
The Government wants more of us to leave our cars in the garage, to protect the environment and avoid destroying that gains we’ve made. Which brings us neatly to…
Cycling on busy roads
While the economy has shrunk more quickly than a globally-warmed icecap, cycling has enjoyed a boom.
It’s been the form of daily exercise for many as cyclists have taken advantage of safer roads to reveal their inner Bradley Wiggins.
Mothers have cycled with the gusto of a peak-condition Victoria Pendleton, dads have swooshed along country roads as quickly as yellow jersey-wearing Chris Froome.
The mad van drivers who head off petrol forecourts without checking for cyclists have been mercifully absent, but those days are coming to an end.
Soon it’ll be time for cyclists to retreat to the gym, to invest in home training kit, or to give up the ghost and take up jogging instead.
We shudder when we think back to the standards that passed for normal prior to Covid-19.
Did we always wash our hands after eating? Did we use hand sanitisers to wipe down the steering wheel and desk? Did we stand a safe distance from colleagues, friends and family when we thought we might have a cold or other form of infection?
No, no and no.
Covid-19 has taught us good hygiene and that’s something we ought not lose.
Of course, we’re looking forward to shaking hands and hugging as much as a kid looks forward to Santa’s present-filled sack at Christmas.
But Covid-19 has equipped us to drive down the spread of common colds, flus and other seasonal nasties that thrive on poor hygiene.
Seeing friends and family
We all know that a number of politicians and their advisors have been doing this irrespective of the lockdown.
But the for the vast majority of ordinary folk, the end of lockdown will bring the most important breakthrough of all – the opportunity to spend time with friends and family.
As the rules have eased, we’ve gradually been able to do that – albeit in peculiar circumstances among rules that defy logic.
Soon, however, we’ll reach a point where uninfected households will be able to mix with other uninfected households.
We’ll be able to hug, place a tender hand on an arm or shoulder, and to experience the joy that being tactile brings.
We won’t have to skip birthdays, hospital visits or funerals – we’ll be present and able to participate, albeit from a sensible distance.
More than anything, the ability to spend time with loved ones will bring great joy.
Going back to school
Sarah didn’t do her geography. Alan didn’t do his maths. Colin did everything, including building a lifesize replica of the Eiffel Tower in his garden. And Fiona’s dad taught her how to make sourdough, even though she’s only seven.
Kids are readying themselves for a return to school.
Though they might resent it, or at best approach if trepidatiously, the re-opening of schools will bring enormous benefits.
Socially, educationally and in terms of all-round development, the return to school will help us all.
Besides, let’s face it, mum’s a rubbish maths teacher and dad’s useless at history.
Not having to get dressed for work
The wardrobe door has been unexpectedly closed for longer than we care to remember as our journey to the ‘office’ – for which, read the ‘sofa’ – has cut down commuting and reduced the amount of time we spend getting dressed.
Power dressers who once spent hours in front of the mirror have become feral as they’ve snuggled onto the sofa in Abercrombie And Fitch pjyamas.
Those days are coming to an end.
Long hair will soon be tamed, nails will be polished (and that’s just the men) and trousers pressed as we get ourselves ship shape and Bristol fashion.
While we can’t wait to see extended family and friends, we’ll miss spending time with those we love most.
Couples who’ve been together 24/7 will bid adieu each morning, mums and dads will lose some of the connections they’ve enjoyed with their kids, neighbours will become socially distant as the present normal ends.
Family time has been happy time for many, though not all, and during the coming weeks we should make the most of what remains.
Seeing nature from our window
The beauty of nature has revealed itself to us all; whether it’s in the blossoming of trees viewed from tower blocks, the gentle song of a blackbird in a garden or the pictures of dolphins, goats and wild boar that have been beamed onto our TV screens from around the globe.
Mother Nature has enjoyed its break from humankind during lockdown – perhaps we can learn to respect it more as introduce better habits in our new routines.