Sitting in traffic on Tuesday morning it was hard not to get lockdown nostalgia. The hour- long delay to my journey brought about a reminder of a world it was easy to think lay in the distant past. It was my first traffic jam for over a year. Yet it felt so depressingly familiar.
The day before another, shorter delay had been brought about by three cars involved in a triple prang. No more than that, no gore or blood-fest, just three drivers walking round frustrated that the day ahead they thought would be straightforward would now involve police statements, undriveable cars and swapping insurance details with people who otherwise would have been strangers zipping alongside them at sixty-plus miles an hour.
Yet the delay wasn’t caused by the physical intrusion of the cars involved, but by the dozens of cars slowing down to get a better look at the unremarkable sight of smashed- in headlights and crumpled bonnets and boots. Despite a year of millions of lives lost, jobs and businesses being destroyed and the heroism of the few to protect the many, it seems it hasn’t quenched the thirst of drivers slowing down to get a good eyeful of other people’s misfortunes.
In someways it seems already that not every outlook has been changed or perspective realigned.
On the BBC last week I saw a young man being interviewed at an airport as his expected holiday had been curtailed by the government deciding to put his country of destination on the amber list. “I believe you haven’t been on a plane for two years?” asked the reporter in a tone that suggested a hardship equivalent to incarceration in a Turkish prison cell. “That’s right”, replied the young man solemnly. A nation wept…
These still are of course, relatively early days. Much of a return to our previous lives are to be celebrated. Seeing family and friends is wonderful and makes us feel more complete. Little things like going for a coffee somewhere and watching the world go by. I’ve just bought tickets for my first gig for this coming December and I relish the thought of seeing the first outdoor performance of the local theatre group Imaginarium Theatre in early July.
Yet what of those things we’d forgotten about that we’d like to see confined to a previous life? Will those lessons we should have learned about out the need to curb our manic, all-encompassing mass consumer-driven indulgences and the need to protect the vulnerable be slowly swallowed up as we hunger for a full and expansive life again?
Have enough of us learned the hard, fundamental truth of our own fragility?
It would be of course, unrealistic to expect a global, complete epiphany were every soul we meet is changed and chastened sufficiently to radically change their lifestyle. And certainly many are facing genuine reopening anxiety regarding the gradual return of post pandemic life,and the calm public acceptance of the government’s decision to delay full reopening of society does point towards a shift in people’s outlook.
It will be interesting therefore to see how many of us in a few months’ time; should the control of the virus continue well enough to allow such freedoms to unfold, feel the urge to hark back to this calmer, overall more reflective period we have all been tiptoeing through.
Lockdown nostalgia. Whoever thought that could be a thing?