Picture This

Picture this: one day, you wake up in a completely different world; a world where you can't hug your own grandmother, where busy streets become lifeless, where people barricade themselves in their homes grasping multi-packs of loo roll and bread flour…

We all knew it was coming. At first, my family and I sat around the dinner table, joking about who’d get the coronavirus first. However, as the months went on, the jokes stopped.

I can remember life building up to the lockdown. I was in my final year of secondary school, Year 11, and was in final preparations for my GCSE exams. I had also just gotten a new job on top of my previous one working with children, or “super-spreaders” as they’re known. Yes, life may have been a bit stressful, but I managed to find a good balance between everything.

I remember waking up one cold morning and checking my phone. As I scrolled through Instagram, I began noticing a trend in the comments— everyone was talking about this new virus that was decimating a city I had never heard of in China. As the days passed by, the virus began to make the headlines of national news, and that’s when things started to change.

As the virus slowly began making its way through Europe, it started to panic us. My family worried for our many old and vulnerable friends and grandparents as we sat glued to the TV, watching it tear its way through Italy.

Right before lockdown was announced in the UK, school was a panic filled environment, as the night before a government official came onto our screens to tell us that they were cancelling our final exams. I was distraught— I'm not academically smart and I have always struggled in school. My grades were mediocre, but I have always had high aspirations. In my eyes, I had been robbed of the opportunity to push back and smash my exams like I had planned. We were all kept in the dark on how they’d determine our final grades to adapt to this new change, and there were many different speculations. Some teachers believed that they’d base our grades off of our previous book work, others believed that it would be calculated from the book work we were going to be given.

One of the UK’s first cases was reported in my local community. A woman had unknowingly taken a cab to Lewisham A&E with mild symptoms. My mother, who works in a hospice, had to be extra careful of my sister, who worked in a supermarket, due to contamination fears. Needless to say, it divided the household.

When lockdown was first announced, my whole family was confused and slightly scared. It all seemed so surreal. Being a typical 15 year old at the time, I was eager to go out and see how I could stretch the rules— perhaps I’d go on a second walk round the block. But soon, life became boring. I sat in bed all day, my iPhone screen time actually increased 86% within the first week of lockdown. I then decided to do something with all of my free time— I’d work on a project, run more often, practice football and piano everyday until I became a pro. As those goals shortly began to fade away, I acclimatized to spending life on the sofa. I lost track of time and my sleep pattern became increasingly nocturnal.

As London slowly begins to ease out of lockdown 7+ weeks later, I'm left to ask myself: “What I have gained from this experience?”

I've learned to never take a wealthy household and life for granted. I was one of the lucky ones, growing up in south London and going to a public school. Most of my friends live a completely different life to me. One friend of mine lives in a two bedroom apartment no bigger than my kitchen.

I will be forever grateful to the life I was born into.


Written by: Miles Macleod (Guest Contributor)

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