By Roger Bara ….
I’m well aware that this headline might cause great indignation and anger – how dare I enjoy a time that is so destructive to so many families and causing so much hardship and of course heartbreak all around the planet?
Of course I’m desperately sad for all the suffering, but I’m coming from a position of privilege – I don’t have to worry about getting to work, or schooling the children at home, and my income is thus far unaffected. Call me an old selfish bloke, because that’s what I’m able to be for this period, however long it lasts.
So what is so great about lockdown?
Here in Northern Cyprus, the overwhelming feeling is of safety, due to drastic and immediate action in closing the country from outside and introducing strict curfews. No new cases in 17 days. Only 108 positive cases overall, none current, in a population way in excess of 300,000. Only two locals have sadly not made it. That compares so favourably with just about anywhere else.
My brother-in-law and his lady came to stay at the beginning of March. By the time they were to return to the U.K., we were in complete lockdown. So they stayed until last weekend. And guess what? They felt exactly the same as we do. And they knew they were safer here than back in England and it was rather reluctantly that they boarded a repatriation flight out of Larnaca.
It’s also the silence. We never realised what a noisy world we inhabited. No traffic on our nearby trunk road to the Karpaz; no construction work going on all around us, no dust in the air, just clear skies and silence. We’ve heard for the first time the incredible amount of birdsong in our gardens, but that’s music rather than noise. We see far more insect life in our bushes and plants, like this rare sighting of a Praying Mantis making her nest. We also heard a very low hum emanating from somewhere – it transpired it was our garden hot-tub. We had never heard it before! (Though I knew it was working, because of the astronomical electricity bills each month…)
We have had time to talk to each other even more. Almost eight years of retirement has meant Mrs B and I are well used to each other’s company, and we haven’t murdered each other, yet. Amazingly, we are chatting about NOT what we are missing or what we cannot now do any more, but reflecting, constantly, about what we have got, and how incredibly fortunate we are to have it all. An appreciation, if you like, rather than a taking for granted of our position in life. So despite the restrictions, we are at peace.
We are enjoying having no appointments, because there’s nowhere to go anyway. Previously, it might be coffee down at the harbour at 11am, then a lunch date, afternoon tea somewhere, and then the hard decision of where and when to eat tonight. Now, no timetable whatsoever, no striving to be on time for anything. Absolute bliss!
What about missing out on parties? Not on your life! We’ve already “attended” an international 50th birthday party; we’ve sung “We’ll meet again” with our fellow elderly ex-pats right around Cyprus; we also now have a weekly visit to the “Siblings Arms”, with both sides of the family. That’s all courtesy of the now-famous app called Zoom, which most of us had never heard of before March of this year. It means we can communicate with up to 100 people at once at any time, night or day. So we do. There’s so much more regular contact with important people to us. What’s not to like?
I never ever thought I would say this, but I’ve even got used to having no football to follow. No anticipation of the big match coming up later, no incredible highs, no even more incredible lows (if you’re a Gooner like me), and I’ve fully accepted that football as we knew it pre-virus, is unlikely to happen again for a very, very long time. (Stop smirking Mrs B…)
When we are watching a series on TV, it already feels strange to see people having a hug, or congregating in places without a mask and gloves. It seems so wrong, so retro….
Despite our lack of stress with the situation, we find we both feel much more emotional, about everything. Watching or listening to all those distressing stories that are making the news has us fighting tears in no time at all. Maybe it’s because we know how things really are for the majority of people, whether it’s here in God’s own country or anywhere else in the world.