Is the UK really ready for the new normal?

How are you finding the new normal article on Silver Magazine

I asked our readers to share their experiences of lockdown, as well as their hopes and fears for the coming months, as the country takes its biggest leap yet towards ‘the new normal’ this weekend. Here’s their take.

I can’t say I’m surprised, looking at the papers this morning. Did anyone really imagine the British public could be trusted not to behave like lunatics out there, particularly after a few drinks?

The streets of Soho in London on 4 july image new normal article Silver Magazine

Soho London yesterday afternoon, 4th July

Of course it’s not everyone. There’s millions of people behaving perfectly reasonably, but for many, it’s evident that the easing of lockdown restrictions couldn’t have come soon enough.

Denied their right to go to the pub for three long months, ‘Super Saturday’ was for many a welcome return to getting out there to eat, drink and be merry again. But for many others, that prospect is pretty terrifying. For some, the idea of even leaving their own home – let alone visiting a bar or a restaurant – is the last thing on their minds.

I totally understand businesses are desperate to open again for the sake of the already severely damaged economy. But seeing the photos this morning, it’s unsurprising that people are worried about a second wave of infection, and maybe even a second lockdown.

Hazel Lindsay-Sturrock says, ‘I think it is too much too soon.’ Jen Andrew is equally concerned: ‘I don’t like staying in, but I wish people would listen to the advice and not be stupid. I would hate to have to go through all this again.’ Ray Bacchus agrees, saying firmly, ‘Nothing changes for me until Christmas’.

I wash my shopping down with bleach

Sometimes it’s hard to remember how we were all feeling back in late March, when everything changed so quickly, and how scary that felt. I know when I realised this thing was serious. I’d moved from feeling incredulous at what was happening, to someone who washed every damn thing that came through the front door. I didn’t want to go into shops, and I was frightened of walking behind people, breathing in their breath.

KriszTina Patchett felt the same. ‘They were frightening times indeed, but we quickly adjusted. We did the sensible things like wearing a mask (reusable, made by a local lady) and gloves if necessary. I started washing all my shopping down with bleach when I got home. It just seemed like the right thing to do. I might keep on doing it for a while – it’s shocking how much muck and dirt comes off it.’

Slowly getting used to it

For me personally, as time passed, I got less paranoid. I refused to live in fear. I relaxed enough to order in delivery food, and walk the dog in busier areas, and I just took care. But I was astounded at how many people didn’t seem to be taking things seriously.

As human beings we need to be with others. We are social by nature

Honestly, it was mostly much older people, wandering around in shorts in the sun, chatting and behaving like it was a bank holiday. Real oldiewonks seemed to be the worst! Which was confusing, as they are definitely more at risk. What’s that about? Are they just in denial? Maybe they don’t understand what they’re supposed to do. Surely that can’t be right.

‘I do feel like my three-and-a-half-year-old daughter understands the lockdown rules better than some grown-ups,’ says KriszTina Patchett, clearly disheartened by the level of selfishness on display. ‘I hate the world today,’ she says, ‘I hate how people have become super-ignorant and thoughtless.’

Hard as this behaviour can be to accept, it’s nevertheless understandable, says Michelle Mrsd. ‘As human beings we need to be with others. We are social by nature and being shut away is unnatural for us. This is why so many people are breaking the distancing rules at the moment. Yes, people are behaving selfishly by meeting in large groups and in some cases acting in what is considered to be out of order. But this has always happened when people are restricted and restrained against their will.’

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‘I’ve hated lockdown’

Even among those who have stuck to the rules throughout lockdown, there’s now a strong desire to get back to normality as quickly as possible. ‘I’ve absolutely hated lockdown,’ admits Michelle Mrsd, who is clearly ready for the new normal. ‘I couldn’t wait to get back to work. I’ve missed friends and family and being able to socialise. I can’t wait to resume some kind of normality – although I’m obviously concerned about the consequences too.’

Will there be money for pensions in years to come?

Jill Hendry is a hairdresser and is excited to get back to the salon. ‘I can’t wait to see my clients, although I’m worried about wearing all the extra PPE in the middle of summer…’

As a keyworker, Marta Guimaraes has worked throughout lockdown. ‘I’m happy with some kind of normality on the horizon,’ she says. ‘I’m worried about the economy, and wondering if I will be able to retire at all. Will there be money for pensions in years to come?’

Anxious about a second wave

Rates of Covid-19 admissions to hospitals are currently on a downwards trend. But, more importantly, the percentage of those patients dying is also improving. We’re either getting better at treating this coronavirus, or the virus itself is changing, becoming less deadly. Possibly both. But that’s of little comfort to some of our readers, who can’t understand why restrictions are being lifted so quickly.

Either we didn’t need to close down or money has now taken over as a priority

A lot of us are feeling incredibly anxious about there being a spike in new coronavirus cases following the relaxing of rules this weekend. ‘I’m not looking forward to going back to a pre-lockdown way of life,’ says Carol Liptrot. ‘I’m scared it’s not safe. We lost my dad to the virus at Easter and it’s been incredibly difficult to deal with.’

‘I genuinely don’t see how we can close down the world for three months and then make everything normal again when people are still dying in their thousands on a daily basis,’ says Sue Walsh. ‘Either we didn’t need to close down or money has now taken over as a priority.’

‘I’m feeling anxious about the lifting of some restrictions,’ says Ann Atkins Grant. ‘We need to use our common sense and I hope that people will respect my space.’

worried about going outside new normal lockdown article Silver Magazine

‘Let’s just hope that history won’t repeat itself (look at what happened with Spanish flu) and that this virus will disappear as quickly as it came,’ warns KriszTina Patchett. ‘Because good luck getting the Brits back under lockdown…’

‘I’ve loved lockdown’

So would it really have been so bad to have had a longer lockdown period? For many of our readers, lockdown has actually brought a great deal of positivity to their lives. Homes have become welcome sanctuaries. Families have been brought closer together. People have taken advantage of having more time to focus on their health and wellbeing, finding new ways to relax and entertain themselves.

I’m now the lowest weight I’ve been in 20 years, and the fittest I’ve been since I was in my 20s

‘I’m loving lockdown; I’m in no rush for it to end at all,’ admits Amanda Ettridge. Firstly, I’m working from home full-time, whereas I usually commute to London, so I’m financially better off, but I also have far more time to myself. With the extra time, I’ve been able to concentrate on eating healthily and getting plenty of exercise. I’m now the lowest weight I’ve been in 20 years, and the fittest I’ve been since I was in my 20s.’

Jill Hendry has also used the time to get into healthy eating habits and do more exercise. ‘In June I signed up to a charity’s 10,000 steps a day challenge to keep me focused,’ she says.

Baking in lockdown with grandchildren article Silver Magazine

Those with family at home have reaped rewards from the unexpected – and in most cases unprecedented – bonus time together. ‘I’m lucky to have one of my daughters living with me, along with her three little ones,’ says Carol Liptrot. ‘We’ve baked, made models, made dens and discovered a shared love of gardening. I bought a tent, a paddling pool and a BBQ for a holiday at home. I’ve learned patience and tolerance. I’ve laughed and cried, and listened to the dawn chorus more than once.’

KriszTina Patchett views this extra time as a gift, enabling her to do things she wouldn’t otherwise have done. ‘I’m making the most of this time off work with my family, working on much-needed home improvements. We’ve decorated and planted vegetables, keeping little hands busy and entertained.’

Don’t forget to be kind

People have really missed their loved ones, and lots of you are craving human contact, hugs, and so on. But it’s largely felt to be a reasonable price to pay for not spreading the disease.

‘I still see friends and family – socially distanced of course – and I do find it hard not being able to give them a hug,’ says Amanda Ettridge. ‘But as I have so much more time and energy now, I probably see more of them than I did before lockdown!’

Lockdown has been tough mentally but I have loved the peace and quiet

Then there are the much-celebrated benefits that lockdown has brought to the world around us.

‘It has been wonderful not to have noise, smoke and light pollution,’ says Tracey Ann. ‘Lockdown has been tough mentally but I have loved the peace and quiet.’

KriszTina Patchett feels the same. ‘Nature needed this break from us humans the most,’ she says. ‘Look at what’s happened with the easing of lockdown. As soon as we’re “let back outside”, we leave tons of rubbish behind on the beaches. It is hard to watch the world crumble away around us.’

I don’t know about anyone else but I totally expected to see the parties in the streets yesterday. And I believe that loads of people are ready for the new normal! People will be people – and Boris Johnson was right about one thing. There’s a limit to the amount of time people have taken lockdown and safety really seriously. But it seems there’s a widespread feeling of loss as the ‘new normal’ kicks in.

As Janey Jay puts it, ‘I just want everyone to go back home, and for the rainbows, clapping and kindness to return. #nostalgicalready’


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About Sam Harrington-Lowe
Sam is Silver's founder and editor-in-chief. She's largely responsible for organising all the things, but still finds time to do the odd bit of writing. Not enough though. Send help.

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