One million hours of solitude

Simon Hedges shares his tips on surviving lockdown and government ineptitude

July 8, 2020 · 4 min read
Neighbourhood watch. Photo by conespider.

It was a tough period of isolation. Lonely, forgotten about, no friends to speak of. Don’t let anyone tell you the pandemic hasn’t brought about a great surge of empathy between us all. I can now finally understand what it must have been like to be on the Labour left before 2015. And from 2020 onwards.

To be honest, I haven’t found it that bad. At the start of the crisis, the government selected several ‘key workers’ that it knew would always look after them in any circumstances – ‘columnists’, as they are also called. I was provided with an unlimited supply of PPE (pens, pencils and eggs) and responded instantly to the scene of any respiratory emergency, like when someone from the cabinet was desperately gasping to explain the latest policy change.

Doing a U-turn every few days isn’t a bad thing. The reason why the prime minister is always changing strategy is that each action plan has been so successful and efficient that he kept on having to come up with a completely different one.

Another common criticism has been that the government’s advice lacks clarity but this is simply a misunderstanding. When Boris Johnson first mentioned ‘herd immunity’ what he actually meant was ‘have you heard of immunity?’ – a very simple request to make sure we had read up on eating enough vitamins and minerals.

Easy. It’s so crystal clear, a home-schooled child could understand it, even if you’d just sat them in front of YouTube for days on end and typed ‘science’ in the search bar. I don’t care what anyone says, that still counts as a lesson.

Next door is only a footstep away

Many people are getting extremely anxious about how their neighbours have been coping. To make sure everyone on my street is safe and well, I have kept a daily diary of all their comings and goings. And any overheard conversations. The arguments and love-making sessions. The time and frequency of all walks and runs. And drone footage of their gardens.

And shopping deliveries. I note down what groceries they are buying too, but my binoculars can’t always pick out the brand names. My notes are all packaged up and handed over to the police at the end of the day.

You may think this is slightly too much, but sorry, I just can’t help caring. If having a beating, bleeding heart makes me guilty then put me away for 20 years, your honour! But also make sure you arrest James and Joanna at Number 58 who had at least three Sainsbury’s deliveries one week and went on four walks over a 72-hour period. Unbelievable. And their son came around with his girlfriend – a new girlfriend, I might add.

I’m trying to look out for these people and all they do is shove their personal lives in my face. Thankfully, I have not had to debase myself with panic-buying during the pandemic. I did all that last year with the threat of a no-deal Brexit and a Labour government. There is enough pasta here to last me until the next election. I’ve also started to write down my fantasy cabinet on the toilet paper. Don’t worry, it will be put to good use.

Simon Hedges tells us he’s an ‘Award-winning Quality Journalist.’ This article is from our Climate Revolutions Summer 2020 issue – out now! Subscribe here

Refugee family reunification during a pandemic

Border closures and travel restrictions caused by the pandemic have made family reunification difficult for refugees. But, as Luke Butterly reports, these rights have been eroded over a number of years

On a rainy day and evening the CAA-NPR-NRC protesters are still in Shaheen Bagh . People have come to support from far and wide

Shaheen Bagh lives on

The women of a south Delhi neighbourhood have inspired a protest movement which will long outlive their temporary encampment, writes Ananya Wilson-Bhattacharya

No solutions, no justice: Covid-19 and BAME communities

Apsana Begum MP asks why no action has been taken to protect BAME communities from Covid-19, despite the Government report revealing disproportionate impact

Brazilian oligarchs sacrifice people for profit

Business leaders are using social media and political influence to spread coronavirus disinformation – and endangering thousands of lives. Raphael Tsavkko Garcia reports

How to make comedy in the time of Corona

Comedian Elf Lyons discusses creative innovation and rebellion in a dystopian age

Swords into ploughshares; planes into ventilator parts

The speedy switch in from producing airplane wings to ventilator parts at a north Wales factory holds out an example for a transition to a low-carbon economy, writes Hilary Wainwright