My thoughts are with everyone struggling with Covid (my paramedic niece has it right now) or any virus or anything, or anything, or any virus or Covid and/or anyone still recovering from the last lockdown, mentally physically. Anyone dealing with re-traumatisation, bereavement, anxiety, depression, insomnia, anger, frustration. Anyone struggling with eating disorders, binging, alcohol consumption, loneliness, broken hearts, financial worries, unemployment, homelessness and more and more. And, suicidal feelings. That’s everyone?
Happy New World Order! That’s how it feels now. Whatever that means.
When not feeling like one of the above, I have heard some say they have begun to experience something they call ‘boredom’. Can this be framed as a kind of ‘de-pression’? A state where you just can’t think of what to do. Is this a good state to be in? How can you be bored when there is so much going on in our world? Is it better to experience depression and acknowledge it? Wonder what the reason is? Or is it better to remain cautious, fearful, or terrified? Do we fight like it is described when we fight cancer and battle with dis-ease? War on terror. War on the virus. Or should we accept, and live with the anxiety that death could be imminent? Or a long way away but in a prison. Whichever, it is again, like last lockdown, time out, to look at our shit. Look within. That’s all we have. It’s painful. Confusing. Yet our individual stories are very real. Spiritual even.
Our new world. How could it be? How will we behave with each other? How will we be allowed to behave, be with each other? At the moment, there is no let up. What will happen if we are let out? Or we go out? Unmasked. As ourselves.
‘I promise that I will do my best
To do my duty to God
To serve the Queen and help the people
And to keep. The Brownie Guide Law’
The Brownie Guide Law, ingrained in my mind from the age of eight. Serve the Queen and country (check out the history of one of the psychologists of SAGE advising Mr Hancock and Mr Johnson. Her name is Susan Michie, she is a behavioural experimental psychologist, forty years in the communist party), while everything but everything is taken away. Everything. Apart from the sun. Yet that was nearly denied me on Saturday. Here is my real, short story.
I was driving my daughter and I to the park. To meet a friend and her daughter. When I go out, I wrap up warm and sit on a bench in the sun to get natural vitamin D. I have a stick seat, so when the bench isn’t free (which is a lot of the time these days) I can still sit.
On Saturday, I arrived at the entrance of my local park, to find (although I could see plenty of cars parked up as normal) the entrance was blocked and guarded by a security man. Fortunately, and only just, I found a space to park in the road opposite (this road was later blocked too). My daughter walked off to find her friend and I approached the security man.
I asked him what was happening. My fear, this would be a permanent closure because of lockdown, making the park inaccessible to me. The man told me the park had been booked by a film company. I could not drive in. At this point my friend arrived. No hugging, of course, we are good Brownie guides, and, anyway, I was in mid-conversation with the security man.
I told him I had a blue badge and wondered if he would let me in to park in the car park as my walking is limited. It is a long way to get to the actual park bit. The man got cross with me. He ranted, and repeated that the company had booked the park etc. I sat on my stick seat, now feeling vulnerable and upset.
I’d had a really difficult week, like most of us, like him. I’d been looking forward to this all week. It was such a sunny afternoon. The stress went straight to my legs, as it always does. They fizz up, and the numbness that is normal to me just gets worse. My legs weaken, and sometimes I collapse. It is a sign, a psychosomatic manifestation of when something extremely unpleasant is happening. The man then said, with my friend to witness.
“I’ve seen people with blue badges who come and park here and do personal training.”
At that point I lost the plot. I cried. Hysterically. My friend could not hug me but she had a flask of herbal tea with honey that she gave me. She sat on the pavement, acknowledging the abuse I had just experienced. I told her how difficult my week had been and how this really was the last blow.
The security man returned. He apologised, profusely, three times. He realised what he had done. I talked with him about my condition. I told him what I had been doing all week. My work in mental health. He told me he had been on this job just a few days and that he was getting abuse from all over. I explained how the abuse he had experienced he had projected onto me. He told me he had now spoken with ‘the boss’ and he would let me in, providing he took a photo of my car.
After I parked in the park, I asked another security man what they were filming.
“An advertisement for Halifax Building Society,” he said.
In the park I bumped into another friend. Don’t incriminate me for that. We didn’t actually bump into each other. It’s a turn of phrase. I cannot believe what I am writing, I really can’t. If police had seen me, I may have been fined. Talking with two people. I really cannot believe I am writing this. Anyway, this friend works in advertising, where redundancies have been soaring since March. He needs to stay strong. He cannot have a day off sick or admit to anxiety. He will be deemed not to be strong, and then high on the list for the next redundancies. He needs the job. Darwinian.
What is happening to our human race?
Be kind. Be human. Be alert, but not to the virus, to human suffering. Morality. Blue Monday is coming soon.
In Sylvia Plath’s words:
You ask me why I spend my life writing?
Do I find entertainment?
Is it worthwhile?
Above all, does it pay?
If not, then, is there a reason?
I write only because
There is a voice within me
That will not be still