I am loving the opportunity to meet up with my friends again.
During Lockdown I, II and III, I kept in VERY good touch with friends who like running (indeed, these friends kept me from going quietly insane – you know who you are; thank you), but I have had to face the fact that not everyone in my ‘tribe’ is as fascinated by running shoes or new running routes as I am. Consequently, BoJo’s extension to social opportunity has heralded a welcome diversion from Zoom and some lovely perambulations with friends that I have not seen in the flesh for some time. Most people are happy to walk, as long as a park bench and a cheeky coffee are included in the mix. On one such walk this week, a friend introduced me to the concept of ‘Covid Keeps’; good things about Lockdown that we should fight to hold on to once our freedom returns.
It got me thinking. I have been so keen to shed the shackles of ‘Stay at Home’ and to book a place in a beer garden, that I have not given much attention to ‘Covid Wins’. I will do so now before I get too busy to give this topic my undivided attention:
- Walking/running whenever possible rather than taking the car or train. I realise that although I am craving a foreign beach, I have not missed the cattle truck approach to air travel (alas, I have not saved enough in Lockdown to fly business class . I am also more appreciative of having a passenger in the car with me – I have been driving solo to and from work for months now (running/walking is not encouraged on the motorway) , and it feels nice to have a companion in the car when the opportunity arises. These days I find I am not even annoyed by Favourite Man’s (FM) choice of car music/radio station, for I just enjoy being on a road trip with company, even if the destination is B&Q or Screwfix.
- A new appreciation of receiving post. I am not just talking about delivery of on-line shopping (which is of course, delicious), but the receipt of good old fashioned letters and cards. Love them. I have known the joy of snowdrop bulbs and sunflower seeds gifted from my mates and arriving like sunshine through the letter box; I have found myself buying books of stamps again, and I hope to continue doing this.
- Salutations. With all this walking and running, I have grown to love a salutation exchange with a total stranger. I see a lot of people walking alone – it may be their one escape from their family, but I hope that we remain more mindful of true loneliness when the pace of life picks up again. I love that saying, ‘If someone hasn’t got a smile, give them one of your’s’. I noticed that when students first came back into school for their Covid testing and had to queue apart from their friends, their politeness was heightened, as was their eye contact above their masks – I hope this confidence and interaction does not totally disappear when students are allowed to ‘hang out’ freely with their peers.
- Hygiene. Let us just leave it with the hope that bowls of peanuts remain absent from parties and pubs, and that during my school lunchtime duties Year 10 girls do not return to eating their packed lunch in the toilets. May the hand sanitiser stand strong, proud and prominent in public places. May the lovely lady at our local Tesco still greet me with a cheerful, ‘morning lovely, sploosh of Sani?’ (I note that this wish combines my desire for Salutation and Hygiene so it’s a Covid Win Win or a Covid Keep Keep)
- Early nights. I am a lark. Always have been so I have loved the excuse to disappear early to bed with a book, which brings me to –
- Reading. I just can’t get enough. I hope I still find time when the siren calls of retail therapy, meals out and cinema return . I am a member of a book club for the first time in my fifty-something years; I can not afford to blow this now.
- Allowing people space. Ironically I have always hated people invading my bubble – although this has different connotations since the pandemic hit. I hope that strangers will still respect the 2 m rule when queuing in shops or standing at the cashpoint. I love a one way system around a supermarket and around school. I love a traffic light system to keep a beady eye on preventing a capacity crowd in any public building. Don’t crowd me, people! Only hug me if I know you well – in which case, I will happily hug you back – but read the next bullet before proceeding.
- No hand shaking or cheek kissing. I have always found this a little awkward. Yes, it is a good way to read someone’s character, but if they have a limp, damp hand shake or try to kiss you inappropriately on the mouth rather than the cheek, let me find this out in other ways than having to navigate through this excruciating social greeting. No also to fist bumps, or high fives. Please continue to stand back.
- A TV supper. Sadly, I can see this guilty pleasure already disappearing with an edict from FM that we should return to eating at a table before I morph into The Hunchback of Notre – Dame and before he runs out of enough Vanish to remove the tomato sauce stains from down the front of his shirts. I guess I should view this as training for my return to alfresco meals in the pub garden. I secretly hope that FM may return to meet his mates in a pub garden very soon so that I can sneak in a cheeky solo TV supper.
I am sure that there are other ‘Covid Keeps’ that I should petition for – feel free to populate the comments bar with any suggestions. I hope to respond to your thoughts…although I may be too busy for I have reservations to make for alfresco meals, my hairdresser and some long-awaited retail therapy.
Rest assured that some things will always remain the same. There will ALWAYS be time to run – it is a pre and post- Covid Keep/Win in my mid-life fight to stay sane.