For me it’s been a year since Covid changed my world.
One year ago yesterday (7th March 2020) my friend Carolyn got the train to Birmingham. We had lunch in Pizza Express, sharing a bottle of wine. We wandered into a few shops. Asked for sanitiser in Body Shop but they didn’t have any. We bought books (we always buy books) and I was beginning to look for a new handbag because mine was developing a small hole. I saw one I liked but it wasn’t exactly what I wanted so I left it as it wasn’t urgent yet. A year later I’ve still got the same pink spotty Cath Kidston bag I was looking to replace that day. It’s had so little use in the last year that the hole isn’t any bigger.
We then went to the theatre to see Book of Mormon the musical. It was great but I don’t know if was actually as memorable as it’s been or if that’s just that it was the last thing we went to. As we waited for the lift at the end we chatted to another lady who was waiting. It was supposed to be on for the rest of the month and she was saying she was going to get tickets to go again. I’ve wondered, on and off, if she managed to do that before it stopped it’s run early.
We got the train into New Street (via Oxford) but came home from Moor Street station (changing at Banbury) because I couldn’t get a wheelchair space on a train from New Street without a wait. I hadn’t been to Moor Street before but it was really nice and easier than New Street. I planned to go via there next time. But there hasn’t been a next time.
It annoys me that I can’t remember who was doing assistance at Didcot and Oxford that day. Because I miss the assisted travel team, a lot of those guys have been a part of my life for over ten years and I saw them often.
On the Sunday we got together as a family for the first time since Christmas. Rafe was at that stage where everything goes in the mouth and kept chewing on my fingers. I was completely fine with that.
The Monday I went to CAB as normal. I did some shopping afterwards. I stocked up a bit more than usual. For weeks I’d been looking for thin hair ties but I wanted them in black which they didn’t have. I gave in and bought the brown because who knew how much longer I’d be able to shop?
Tuesday I stayed at home in the day, trying to avoid unnecessary trips to town and watched a news special with Jenny Harries. It was the first time I’d heard of her and I’d still never heard of Chris Whitty. We went to the pub for dinner that night for a birthday. I haven’t been in a pub since.
Wednesday was back to CAB. It was quiet but I saw one client – something run of the mill and forgettable, only I’ve not seen anyone else since so she’s stuck with me. We chatted as a group something we don’t often get time to do. Several people had said they weren’t coming in for a bit. I told the supervisor I’d keep going but I’d stop if the schools shut.
By the Monday when I was next due in it was clear I couldn’t go back. A few days after I said I couldn’t go in I was sent a google form to fill in about why. I wrote that I hadn’t been advised to isolate but I knew from previous experience my disability meant I would struggle with coronavirus and be more at risk. A few hours later the list of clinically vulnerable was released and CP was on it.
That same Wednesday evening I went to my photography course. I’d planned to go early and pop into Wilko but was late leaving so couldn’t. I really wished I’d made the effort in the weeks that followed. The final weeks of that course were cancelled.
Thursday I skipped Shut Up and Write on the grounds of avoiding unnecessary trips to town but in the evening went to a writing workshop five minutes from my house. Several others weren’t there because of the risk. There were tissues on each table that weren’t usually there and talk about “if the last week would happen.” It didn’t. As I worked with my friend on one of the exercises I could feel her breath as she talked. It bothered me in a way it hadn’t before but I didn’t say anything.
Friday was the gym. My parents came down to do some jobs in my flat while I was out but got there before I left. They wore gloves and it made it real. I looked around the Fit Zone as I left feeling a bit unreal. I told my trainer I wasn’t sure about the next week and she said she hadn’t taken it seriously until the day before. Dave, my most regular driver, dropped me home and said “hopefully see you next week.” I can’t remember what I said.
But that was the last normal day I had. When they were talking about 12 weeks it seemed unachievable. I can’t believe it’s now been a year.