Momentous day for Roma Felstein. I got to leave Finchley. I was let out for a social distance walk on Hampstead Heath with a girlfriend. The first time I left home in 14 weeks. It prompted a wardrobe exchange, a discussion re appropriate footwear, and a safety bag equipped with mask, hand gel and disposable gloves – just in case. Girl Guides would have been proud – that is of course had they let me in. Wrong religion. I also considered make-up but opted instead for sun cream.
Driving with my windows open in bright sunshine I felt free. It was almost a Thelma and Louise moment. And like Thelma and Louise it didn’t end well. Just 200 yards into the Heath, after the Rhododendrons which are in full bloom and look stunning – I stumbled and fell flat on my back. It’s an embarrassing moment – suddenly everybody around you stops and stares but because it is lock down no-one knows what to do.
“It’s ok” I say trying hard not to be too self-conscious, “I am ok – please don’t try to help me – I am vulnerable.” Sounds like I have leprosy. “No don’t pick up the water. Please just leave my glasses I will pick them up.” I felt like I had the plague or that maybe they had the plague. You always feel so foolish when something like this happens. I didn’t trip over anything; the ground was perfectly flat which prompts people to look at you quizzically wondering if something else is going on. “I AM FINE” I say trying to be polite but firm.
I hobble back to my car, tail between my legs, feel thoroughly depressed and let down. Perhaps this is a message ‘it is is not yet safe for you to leave your house! Dammit.
So, the rest of the day I have been resting with leg on ice and elevated – my ankle is the size of an orange.
It got me thinking though the Heath was brimming with activity as is my local park every day from early morning until late at night. Picnics, basketball games, cricket, football, tree climbing. Everyone is having a good time. And every day is a Sunday. Parents playing with their children, youngsters listening to music and chatting, runners running and walkers walking. We are getting used to a new norm and it would seem loving it. So, what is it going to be like going back to working 5 days a week, 8 hours a day, rush hour, commuting and for some wall to wall meetings? That is of course if there is any work.
We have all been shown, albeit briefly a different way of life. And maybe a realisation that perhaps what we were doing – isn’t what we want to be doing going forward. If anything, COVID19 has shown us the importance of a good work life balance. What we do with this is our individual choice. It will be interesting to see.
Confined to my horizontal leg up position I have been watching a lot of screens today not least the news in America. And as thousands gather today in Trafalgar Square for a rally Black Lives Matter – hopefully with masks and 2 meter distance – I am reminded by my god daughter of the racism that she experiences in the UK as a Chinese person.
“Recently I have questioned whether, or not, I feel safe or accepted in a country that I have grown up in. I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that I feel angry, upset and massively let down by the way that some people have chosen to behave in light on Covid-19. I was left heartbroken watching a BBC documentary of Chinese children saying they were being targeted in schools; seeing graffiti on the front of Chinese businesses; and reading reports of violent assaults towards East-Asians all over the world.
To Everyone who has been shouted at, spat on, egged, and attacked you belong exactly where you are. I wrote this and I hope it speaks to some of you”
“Lets be careful out there”