My oldest daughter’s bar job ended abruptly at 3pm yesterday when she received the news via her team’s WhatsApp group that the company she works for was closing all its restaurants with pretty much immediate effect.
Details of how, or even if, she and her colleagues will be paid are to follow. I confess I felt really sad and actually shed a few tears at the news, not just for her but everyone whose lives and livelihoods are affected by coronavirus.
She sounded ok about it on the phone and I know she’ll be alright, find something to do but the uncertainty about income and the loss of her life’s structure and the social interaction it brings will hit her harder I think than she appreciates.
Very sensibly my 86 years-old dad is in lockdown, avoiding all his favourite things like going on cruises, visiting his local pub, going to the bookies, seeing his family and his lady friend.
He’s been set up on Skype but is making a hopeless hash of using it which is, at least, bringing some light relief. He’s a social, active man and I know he’ll find the next few months very tough.
My daughter’s news followed a flurry of emails and social media messages cancelling virtually everything both in my daily life and immediate future including my Thursday night tennis league, Saturday’s parkrun, next month’s holiday in Spain and various work meetings and projects.
There were emails and Facebook posts from much loved small businesses such as shops and bars that are trying to carry on for the time being at least. It made me realise how much these places – and the efforts of the people who run them – matter to you and how you take them for granted, even moan if the service isn’t quite right or they get too busy.
On top of that there was the news of the cancellation of so many of the great world events we all look forward to, from Glastonbury to the Grand National, from the Eurovision Song Contest to the Euros 2020 football. Now, even the schools are to close and the summer exams cancelled.
Coronavirus is having all these affects, not to mention the health impact including the news from beautiful Italy of the ever-growing numbers of deaths and infections that despite the lockdown they can’t seem to control is truly awful. Things could be the same in the UK in a few weeks’ time.
What a terrible start it’s been to the year, to the 2020s, what with the fires and floods of the first few weeks and all their climate change implications. Now there is this awful virus, it’s all beginning to feel just a little bit existential.
This time, we can’t even blame it on human conflict, it’s just us all trying to live our normal lives. Yet more reminders of the frailty of humanity and how we should all try harder to appreciate the great things about life when they eventually return.