We’ll all miss something from lockdown once it’s all over as UK’s independence day beckons

Customers are served takeaway drinks from the Cat & Mutton pub in London over the weekend. In a fort

Customers are served takeaway drinks from the Cat & Mutton pub in London over the weekend. In a fortnight pubs, museums and restaurants will be open once again - Credit: PA

Freedom is in sight, but once lockdown is over and we’re all allowed out to play, there are plenty of things James Marston will miss

Is it all over? I’m struggling to tell aren’t you? Yesterday I read that cinemas and, pubs and museums – three of my favourite things - will be reopening on July 4, a date which is looking more and like our own independence day.

I’m sure we’ll all have to be alert – but if it is the case that the restrictions are easing considerably next month then I can’t help feeling slightly sad. Not that I’ve enjoyed the last three months much, it’s not been something I want to repeat, but there have been moments, after the initial shock and ire, when I’ve been glad of the experience.

It hasn’t all been bad, at least not for the lucky ones among us who haven’t lost jobs, or been ill, or faced privation beyond the limitations on our freedoms.

I’ve enjoyed exploring the village in which I live, the countryside, the weather, the lack of noise. I’ve been impressed by the kindness of strangers exhibited among our communities. I’ve read a couple of books, done quite a lot of the garden, even planted some trees, but above all I have spent time thinking – I suspect many of us have.

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It has been a year of trial and tribulation and I’m not sure we’ll look back with undiluted pride at our collective behaviour – our political class, which has probably done its best, hasn’t exactly shone with competence and I remain unconvinced by the efficacy of and necessity for the lockdown (that’s yet to be proven and a debate for another day) – but we have all, largely, pulled together with a sense of purpose – mostly.

And there have been unifying and uplifting moments and certain people we can be proud of. Captain Tom is up there with his quiet determination. Even the death of Vera Lynn was a reminder of the very best of British.

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The royal family too have also reminded us, once again, why we have them and why they are important. Her Majesty tops the list of course with her inspiring speech and reassuring presence. Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall did their bit leading the nation in a simple and dignified act of remembrance for VE day. And the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visiting a bakery and a garden centre giving us a glimpse into the future of what monarchy might look like with them at the helm.

The NHS clapping, the supermarket delivery drivers, the annoying television adverts, the daily propaganda briefings, the weirdness of internal monologues on The Archers, the secret rule breaking we don’t want to admit to just yet, the moment we saw our loved ones again, the odd crafts we have rediscovered, the things (and people) we haven’t missed, the time spent sitting outside, even the humour we have shared, the resourcefulness and resilience we have displayed – especially those who have home schooled, have all been aspects of this experience we can be thankful for and, perhaps, remember with affection one day soon.

It is easy to chide and carp – I am in that trade and passionately believe in the need to critique, question and express concerns – but I can’t help thinking this lockdown has also been a collective moment of personal self-reflection – at least it has been for me.

We can do more than we realised, indeed we can change the world together if we really wanted to. I don’t think much will change on July 4, and I fear the economic aftermath is going to bite us hard, I fear the ramifications of the huge growth in the power of the state, I don’t even think we will be changing the world soon – in fact I suspect we will be so relieved to get back to normality we’ll soon be doing our best to forget the whole thing, the inequalities the experience has highlighted will soon go back into hiding – but these last 12 or 13 weeks will be seared into our personal and collective memories, they will make their mark, and I suspect they will re-emerge and shape our characters in the years to come.

In the meantime, as a friend said to me right at the beginning of this, let’s make the most of it – this time won’t come again.

Have you benefited from the lockdown? What has made you proud? Will you miss this time? Write to James at james.marston@archant.co.uk

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