Ordinary Tears

Tonight I find myself with a dilemma. Yes, I have eaten too many chocolates and the fridge is stuffed with tempting goodies but, even considering the state of my lockdown middle, it is not the when-do-i-start-the-diet dilemma that concerns me. To be honest there are a number of concerning dilemmas that I could choose from now that I am living in Tier 4, but it isn’t any of those either. No, the focus of my wondering sits in my eyeline watching telly.

He’s wearing a rather nice pair of new trainers his grandfather (my dad) paid for but hasn’t seen (and who hasn’t seen him in the flesh for over a year), gently flicking his overly long hair out of his eyes. He looks tired but I am reluctant to send him to bed. It’s nice to have his company.

Lockdown isn’t easy for him. He’s been bored today because there isn’t much for him to do and there is nowhere for him to go, regardless of the weather. His world shrank significantly during the spring and summer and it’s going to shrink again, thanks to a letter from the doctor.

I could tell you all manner of things about him, but here’s the thing: tonight (today), it all feels a little bit too much like justification.

People are tweeting and journalists are writing, chatterers chatting and they are discussing the latest numbers in relation to deaths from Covid and somehow the ‘worth’ of ‘people with underlying conditions’ has found its way into the mix. Only the ‘sick’ or the ‘old’ should be shielding, or, ‘they would have died anyway’, or some other nonsense that implies that only the strong survive and the ‘underlying conditioners’ are there to be looked after and ‘shielded’ and that somehow proves that We Who Suggest Such Things are Good People and so that’s OK then or something, and people who haven’t got a condition, underlying or otherwise, or not one they know about anyway, are breathing sighs of relief and advocating for an end to lockdowns because reasons.

I mean, what do you say to that? What do you say that you haven’t said before?

His life doesn’t need justifying, and neither does his safety or anyone else’s. And while I’m at it this pandemic isn’t a political matter – or it shouldn’t be – and if everyone is off sick (or even about half) we haven’t got an economy or an education anyway and yes, we should be scrutinising legislation that diminishes our rights (here’s looking at Brexit, kid) and we should be worried that if too many people have covid they will turn up in the hospitals and said hospitals won’t have any time or space for anything else except to deal with the most urgent right here and right now so we ought to be taking care and following public health advice because not following it will do exactly that.

And finally we aren’t the only generation to find our lives turned upside down by circumstances beyond our control; we aren’t the first and we won’t be the last. We’re not the first to shed tears over the state of it and wonder what will our young folk do when we come out the other side, and to hope that maybe we’ll rebuild things better because now we can see inequalities we don’t like and perhaps we’ll have some energy for change when it’s all over. There’s nothing special about us at all.

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