Diary of a Lockdown, day 160: end-of-summer blues

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bowl of tomatoes in garden
Morale-boosting home-grown tomatoes in SW2

Morale has been wobbly this last week or so. There are money worries as the reality of having to cancel every yoga retreat planned for this year hits home. Two close friends have been made redundant after decades with their employers. A nephew let go from his job in retail at the start of lockdown has yet to find work.

Our family’s summer excursions to Devon and Kent are fading into memory. The days are cooling.

On the bright side, the garden is blushing each morning with newly ripened tomatoes. There’s a new baby safely arrived in our extended family up North – and another on the way. And hooray! – the teenagers are finally going back to school next week.

Looking ahead just brings anxiety. Will next year’s yoga retreats be able to go ahead? When will it be safe to open my home yoga studio once again? Will the boys’ GCSEs and A-Levels take place – and if so will the months of lost schooling put them behind students from better resourced schools?

Restaurants and cafes are open – but few are busy. As the government’s furlough money and self-employment grants come to an end in October, how many more jobs will be lost and how many households will be able to keep their heads above water? For people across huge swathes of the economy, the immediate future looks bleak.

Covid-19 is still close by; a group of south London sixth-form leavers tested positive after a celebratory holiday in Croatia last month, but have succeeded keeping it contained to their group.

Friends who had the virus early on in the pandemic are still suffering the effects. One, who was previously a runner of half-marathons, hasn’t yet recovered his usual strength and stamina. A local friend, an NHS nurse who contracted the virus at work in February, says her lungs and heart have not fully recovered and she now struggles to cycle to work, something she’d been doing for 20 years.

To counter the end-of-summer blues, I’ve had some long-distance face-time with family in New Zealand and arranged dog-walks with local friends. Whatever the weather, it’s always better to get outside than to stay indoors moping and I always feel better after a bit of real human contact, not mediated by a screen.

For the time being, this is ‘the new normal’.

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