Life… interruptedMay 13, 2020
Coronavirus has affected people in very different ways. For me, life just came to a halt at a very awkward time. I was moving out of my flat, intending to buy land and build my own home.
My mum had a stroke in December and sadly died at Christmas. I had been living in her flat, caring for her almost full-time. It wasn’t a particularly difficult type of caring – mostly making her meals, sorting out her accounts, doing her shopping, taking her out for walks etc. And Mum was great company, so I’m glad that I had that time with her.
There was a lot to do after she died – informing all of her friends and family, arranging the funeral and sorting out her estate (a process that is still ongoing). Then I had to get my flat sold. I spent most of February moving my things into storage. My plan was to sell my flat, pay any outstanding debts, buy land and then either live in a caravan or rent somewhere nearby while I built my new home.
I had got as far as contacting a local property auctioneer, because my flat has a lot of problems, and I just wanted a quick sale.
And then the lockdown was imposed.
My flat is empty, apart from six or seven large items of furniture that I had been trying (unsuccessfully) to arrange removal of. I had already temporarily moved back into Mum’s flat, because I needed to start clearing it out.
That is a really difficult process, because I can’t move anything out! I have about four big bags of rubbish that I can’t dispose of because the Council recycling centre is closed. I have piles of books and bags of clothes that need to be taken to charity shops (I think there will be a great need of these after lockdown is lifted, as many people will have lost their jobs).
The granddaughter of an old friend of Mum’s from Switzerland has been studying here, but she had to return home just before lockdown was imposed, so she asked me if she could put her things in my flat. Of course I agreed, but there is a lot of it!
So I’m living in my Mum’s lovely large city centre flat, but there are books and bags lying all over the place! At least it’s comfortable. I am in a much better situation than many people.
All sorted out… but nowhere to take things!
Just after the lockdown was imposed, I got toothache. It was bad enough to be classed as an emergency, and the dentist told me that I needed root canal treatment – but he was unable to do it, because dental procedures like drilling have been prohibited. He told me I might eventually lose the tooth as a result, and he prescribed antibiotics to stop the pain.
Missing the mountains
I am missing the mountains like mad, and desperately missing climbing, but I have taken up running (so far I’ve run for 28 minutes at a stretch) and I’m doing more cycling. I’ve also started following the Patreon account of one of my favourite climbers, who offers expert advice and exercise routines for £10 a month.
So I can’t say that I’m suffering, although I am in a financially precarious position. I have assets, like an empty flat that I can’t visit or do anything with, but I don’t have much cash. Mum left all her property to me and my sister, but we can’t access it until the legal work has been completed, and that has ground to a halt due to the lockdown.
I have been unable to continue with training for my Summer Mountain Leader award. I only had one hurdle to complete – the navigational reassessment, which was originally booked for November 15th last year, but snow fell on the hills, which meant that it had to be postponed, as it has to be done in non-winter conditions.
By the time the snow had gone from the hills, we were in lockdown. Even when the lockdown is lifted, I’ll need some time to prepare and refresh my mind for the reassessment, so I think my chances of working as a Summer Mountain Leader this season are diminishing.
Even without all these issues, I have felt a significant disconnect from most of my friends in our reaction to the current pandemic. I think it’s because I don’t watch TV, and I don’t watch or listen to the news. I keep up with what’s going on in the world by looking at BBC News online now and again. Up to about five years ago, I used to be a news addict, but I gradually weaned myself off it, because I felt it was full of propaganda and fear-mongering.
As the coronavirus crisis progressed, I thought it was being really overhyped. All the news reports about it seemed to be accompanied by photos of people wearing PPE and graphics that looked like blood clots or viruses enhanced with vivid colours. (Viruses are too small to have colour.)
The Guardian Newspaper’s online news roundup on May 1st had an interesting “bloodclot” design theme.
Most of my friends were totally panicked about the whole thing, and when I pointed out that the chances of people who are relatively young and fit getting seriously ill or dying from Covid-19 are extremely slim, they acted as if I was a granny killer, or as if I don’t care about people with compromised immune systems. As a result, I’ve had to distance myself from some of my friends, which is a shame. I’m not angry about their reactions – I’m angry at the media for provoking hysteria.
Thankfully I do have a couple of close friends who, despite not seeing this situation in exactly the same way that I do, are able to discuss the subject amicably, without temperamental outbursts. And I know there are other friends on social media who see things my way but are too nervous to say it in the current incendiary climate.
I’m not saying that people should just disregard this disease. But I personally don’t think it’s worth crashing the economy for. All along, I’ve felt that the strategy proposed by Dr David L Katz in the New York Times and in this interview on YouTube, seemed much more sensible than a blanket lockdown.
Katz proposed that the elderly and people with compromised immune systems should be sheltered inside, and that healthy people should be allowed to continue more or less as normal, taking certain hygiene precautions, in order to build up herd immunity in the general population. This would allow the disease to run its course and recede, which would make things much safer for the elderly and the immune-compromised.
I favour Katz’s proposal, and I think if people are nervous about catching the disease, even if they are healthy, they should be allowed to shelter in. But I think that people who want to get out and get on with their lives should be allowed to do so.
That’s my opinion. But having said that, I have been fully compliant with the lockdown and the social distancing guidelines.
I won’t say any more on this now, because I launched my new account, @imaginingfreedom, to voice my opinions on issues like this. Imagining Freedom is the name of a podcast that I started in early April. I’d been planning to do it for months before the coronavirus crisis started, because I’ve been increasingly concerned about the removal of our rights and freedoms in the UK, especially freedom of speech.
I feel strangely compelled to speak my mind on these issues, no matter what people think. Even if few people listen to my podcast, I want it to be on record that I spoke out.
And if people don’t agree and want to debate with me, that’s great – as long as it’s polite and non-aggressive. If you don’t allow yourself to hear different opinions, you don’t learn.
That’s why I thought it was important to keep this account separate from my @natubat account. I think it would be confusing for my followers if one moment I’m writing about a lovely cycle ride or hillwalk that I did, and the next I’m reading out the latest report on civil liberties from Big Brother Watch!
Anyway, having said all that, I do hope that everyone is well. I know that Covid-19 can be very serious and it can cause death. A friend of mine suffered very badly from it. And I was very saddened to hear of the death of Sharon, aka @fitinfun, which was officially attributed to pneumonia, although it seems that Covid-19 may have been a factor. I had some nice online conversations with Sharon.
I may have a different view from the mainstream on how we should deal with this pandemic, but I do take it seriously and I feel sad for anyone who has suffered or is suffering from Covid-19, or who is worried about it.
Main photo by Walter Knerr.