More Than Words

It’s been months…

Life has changed dramatically, and we’ve learned new words and phrases: “lockdown”, “social distancing”, “keyworkers”, “shielding”, “Coronavirus”, and more recent ones such as “local lockdown”, “covidiots”…… Words and terms we’d never heard or used before, now they’re used daily.

What does it mean though? What’s it all about? Why does it affect every one of us, everywhere?

I was on the front line for the avian flu “crisis” a few years ago. It was worrying as a frontline worker, A&E departments were concerned and hospitals had to put measures in place to handle it all. But the general public didn’t really have much idea of the seriousness, and it lasted a relatively short time. Coronavirus, aka Covid-19, is a whole world different, and it has created a different world.

We’ve all been in various stages of lockdown for months, travel restrictions are in place, people are fed up and, of course, there are the conspiracy theories!

How on earth in the 20th Century can (even slightly) educated people believe that a mobile data communication method (5G) could spread Covid-19?? It’s a virus (not of the computer variety)!! Why, when people are clearly dying, do people believe that Covid-19 is not real and think its some kind of government plot?? And why do grown people not realise that their noses are connected to their mouths and they must cover both with their face mask to help prevent the virus spreading effectively?

As I write this post, a number of cities in the UK have been placed in a state of local lockdown. A second wave has been predicted. Having walked city streets, and been in public places, I’m not surprised. Social distancing is non-existent, its more like social risk-taking, an face coverings are scarce. Many are being worn in completely ineffective ways. It’s very frustrating, but no one is doing anything about it. Daily, the government is adding countries to the ‘quarantine list’, stating travellers must self isolate fir 14 days if they are returning from any of them, but who polices that? People are holding protests against lockdown and being told to wear face coverings but, by doing so, are they not extending the need for measures they’re protesting about?! Nobody really has the answers, it’s new land and unknown to everyone, but casting blame wherever possible isn’t going to help.

Companies are folding on a daily basis, businesses are closing, online sales are rocketing. Will we ever see the ‘normal’ we used to know?

NHS staff are being hailed as heroes, but they’re not being given the correct equipment, in high enough quantities, to protect themselves as they do their job.

These are times like the world has not experienced for decades, centuries. Stresses are high, lives are being lost, not just from the killer virus among us. But we can get through this. Not by protesting about whatever is fashionable this week, not by complaining, and not by trying to do it on our own.

By simply following the rules; wearing a face covering in public, hand hygiene and looking after each other, checking others are doing ok, this will soon be nothing more than another memorae period in history. If we don’t, it will drag on and on. There are many of the rules that are ‘inconveniences’, but surely those inconveniences are tolerable for the short period of time necessary? They’re not just new words, this is all real and it’s happening to everyone, everywhere.

As those great philosophers, Bill & Ted, once said – “Be excellent to each other”. By doing so, we’ll see some form of normality again much sooner.

Then there’s Brexit……

I See Your True Colours Shining Through

This post is not the type of post I normally write. I started writing it a week ago, when Covid-19 was wreaking havoc in Italy. Now the whole of the UK is in lock down too. Phrases such as “self isolating” and “social distancing” are heard daily. Panic buying is gripping the country and creating scarcities of…toilet rolls and pasta, among other strangely random items. This is a very real threat to everyone’s health but, managed correctly and sensibly, the threat can be minimised.

As humorous as this may seem, and I hope these panic buyers are left with their stockpiles after this is all over, we are a country in genuine crisis and we need to think of other people’s needs too.

I was in the ambulance service during the avian flu crisis around 2007. There was similar panic in some areas, but nowhere near the scale we are seeing now.

Last night Britain applauded the NHS workers. People stood on their doorsteps up and down the country clapping. Some cities lit up blue in support too. This morning there are reports of someone who died “because paramedics left her at home”. Paramedics who have never seen anything like this before but are expected to know what to do. Paramedics who are out there ill equipped with protective wear, doing their best in an unknown situation.

Now is not time for sensationalism. Its a time to pull together, to recognise the work people are doing to try to keep us safe. Not a time for negativity and blame.

It seems to be a time when people’s true colours are starting to show: people refusing to stay at home to contain the virus spread, shops and other unscrupulous people trying to charge extreme prices for essential items like toilet rolls and bottles of hand gel. Peopled stockpiling those items unnecessarily to the extent that there are no stocks available for other people who actually need them. Today I heard of youths going round coughing and spitting on people, threatening to ‘give them the virus’!

But more and more, people are rising above this. Every day there are stories of how people and companies are showing support, stories of acts of kindness.

I recently spoke with a bus driver friend who told me of a wheelchair user struggling to get on their bus. Someone helped push the wheelchair on the bus then, rather than get on the bus as a passenger, they walked away. It transpired that the wheelchair user didn’t actually know them, a random stranger, not afraid to help or scared to touch the wheelchair lest they contracted Covid-19.

Another friend saw an elderly person fall while trying to walk up a steep incline near some houses. They were helped by three random strangers who crossed a main road to assist. Yes, we need to exercise caution, but we also need to practice common sense. At a time when social distancing and caution are very important, concern, care and kindness are also equally important.

Ambulance crews, nurses, doctors and all the support staff are working hard to cope with the Covid-19 outbreak. No-one knows how long the crisis will last, no-one knows how long it will be before a vaccine is discovered. Still these people go to work, knowing they will have a busy day ahead. But it’s not just about them. The country still needs to keep going – bus drivers to take people to work, store staff who put up with still rude and selfish shoppers, lorry drivers who tirelessly keep supermarkets stocked, Police officers, Fire crews….right down to the people who keep the streets clean. All deserve some kind of thanks for keeping the country going. Some coffee and fast food retailers were offering items free to emergency workers, but that ended when they were forced to close.

Most of you readers will know much of this already, but how many of us show kindness to these people ourselves? How many of us keep an eye on our elderly neighbours or offer to do shopping for others when we’re doing our own? How many of us say “thank you” to the bus drivers, say nice things to the supermarket staff, or give a thumbs up to the emergency workers? Now, more than ever, we need to stay positive. Boris Johnston was recently likened to Winston Churchill, and I suppose the Second World War was probably the last time the whole world saw times similar to these. We are all in this together, whether we like that idea or not. KindnessĀ is free, and it actually feels good. If we all act together it will make this crisis a whole lot more bearable.

Please listen to the experts – Stay at home whenever possible! Wash your hands as often as you can. Social distancing and all the other rules were devised for everyone’s safety. To defy them unnecessarily is selfish and also puts yourself at risk.

During times like these we tend to see peoples’ true colours coming through. Are yours something you will be proud of when it’s all, finally, over?