week one of social distance
Updated: Sep 17
Tuesday 24th March, I got a text announcing the start of the UK lockdown.
'Protect the NHS', it said. It grated at me, the tagline slogan chosen by the tories, of all people
People rejoicing en mass, celebrating an institution that has gone through 10 years of systematic cuts and is so resource poor, sex shops feel compelled to donate medical supplies.
Maybe it takes dire times for people to realise the value of our public services. Maybe this will make the start of a new era of public investment.
All we can do now is try to not forget how reassuring it feels to have a nationalised healthcare. How vital it is for our society as a whole that every individual person have access to the level of care they need, regardless of means. If it took a national emergency to realise that, then I'll take it.
(image by Jess Oliver in Clapham Junction, London, 27/03/2020)
A friend works on a street in London that has mostly upscale coffee-shops. She said the road reminds her of a market now. The coffee-shops, forced to shut a week ago, decided to sell their stock off to the public. An attempt to limit their loses, I suppose.
It sounded so utterly bizarre, so I asked her to take a photo. And she delivered, she sent me a photo of a glass fronted cafe selling wholesale tubs of chickpeas, stacks of chopped tomatoes, fresh pastries in the morning. I can't help but think of the articles talking about how food banks have been struggling to provide for the most vulnerable in society because of panic buying.
Of articles concerning the UK's food supply will surely make the problem worse.
Of how poorly shared our resources are.
(image by Jess Oliver in Clapham Junction,
(image by Lewis, Manchester supermarket, 24/03/2020)
Empty supermarket shelves is normal. In theory we are still producing more than enough to go around. But people are scared. And fear makes people selfish.
He most recently used his resources to donate food to food banks, and encourage his following to do the same. I don't really know what comment to make about him. I could feel frustrated that he is filling the role of helping to care for people that should be cared for by the state. Mostly, in this moment, I feel weary, an ache to feeling nothing more than grateful that he tried, at least.
A friend shared an article, a letter to the UK from Italy. The article speaks of how the same thing is happening all over the world, but on different timelines. China went through it first, and watched it happen in Italy. Now the Italians watch it happen to us. There's a certain sense of camaraderie in the words. It's well written, balanced, but still left me feeling chilled. I think maybe I'm reading too much, thinking too much about the future.
I spoke to my mum today. She works as a care assistant, and I asked if she's been given any protective equipment. She said no. I asked, perhaps the company could restructure the work pattern, so she only supports - is only exposed to - one person or house, instead of a variety of houses. Unlikely. Are people at least keeping their distance? That's impossible, in her line of work.
Could she maybe take a few months off? Stay home, stay safe?
No, she needs to work.
I feel powerless, frustrated, worried. My mind drifts as I try to find the right message to finish this piece and I can't. I see potential, but I see failures too.
I feel caught in two contradictory states. Things are happening, new policies, new reasons to feel frustrated, new projects and solutions. New things every day. But life around me feels frozen, at a stand still. Inaccessible. It's getting harder to not feel overwhelmed.
And it's barely been a week.