In early March when the effects of this virus really took hold I was still convinced we were going to get away at Easter.
I knew our holiday to Spain would be cancelled but I thought we’d still be able to sneak off somewhere in our campervan, maybe book an Airbnb, do a bit of exploring. A change of scene would do us good, I thought, even if all the bars and restaurants were closed.
How wrong I was. Ever since the full lockdown started I’ve been clinging to what now seems the forlorn hope of life returning to normal if not in May, maybe June or July.
Gradually it’s dawning on me that’s not going to happen and that as well as killing people in the tens of thousands this virus is killing joy for the millions of us who are left.
I know I’m lucky – so lucky – fit and well, not overly affected by what’s going on financially, got a nice house and garden with lots of things to keep me amused.
The truth is though that with some form of social distancing likely to continue for a year it feels like everything I really cherish about life is gone for the foreseeable.
This year is my 60th year, it was going to be my best year ever I hoped. It’s one of the reasons I started writing this blog.
I was looking forward to some great holidays – that Easter week in Spain followed by a trip to see family in Slovakia in July.
In August, as part of our annual trip to the south of France, we camp near some of the Mediterranean’s best naturist beaches. The freedom of nude sunbathing is something I look forward to all year round. If we get to France at all how will that work I ask myself, will we be naked except for face masks! Will the gendarmerie be patrolling to ensure we’re all socially distancing on the beach.
One of the highlights of last year was going to a beach party – a sweaty night of dancing to club music, hundreds of scantily clad bodies gyrating alongside each other. That ain’t going to happen.
Later in the year we are booked to go to a Sandals resort in St. Lucia where one of the great pleasures is being served all-inclusive cocktails at the busy swim-up bars. Can that still take place?
My 60th party in July, a once-in-a-lifetime chance to celebrate this key milestone with close friends and family is cancelled now. The weekend to London Mrs Jones booked to replace it including a night at a West End musical probably won’t go ahead. Our holiday with the family to Centerparcs is gone too.
The great sporting events of the year – the Olympics, Euros Football, Wimbledon – all postponed. Never mind international sport, I can’t see I’ll be of going to watch a live football game at any point this year. My weekly parkrun, a thousand people all together in close proximity, how can that happen any time soon?
There are the simple pleasures, a summer walk to the village pub, an evening at Oxford city centre’s vibrant roof terrace where you can bask in the afternoon sun with a gin and tonic. Can these things happen now?
Even if some of these activities are eventually allowed there’ll be strict controls on numbers and, fearful of catching the virus, I’d be wary of mixing with others. They just won’t be the same.
It makes you realise what really matters, the things that make life worth living – most of which are gone this year, or longer.
It feels like I’m starting a grieving process for the life that I would have had this year and somehow the older you get the more resentful you are of opportunities missed to savour life.
Maybe the 2020 is that when the chance to live life to the full returns, live it to the full we must.