Tier 3 Plus, Week 2, December 14th to 20th 2020 inclusive

Monday, December 14th

Oh great.  A new variant of the virus has been identified in the South East.  Like everyone hasn’t got enough problems.

The tier review wasn’t due until Wednesday, and we still don’t know if any areas will be moved from Tier 3 to Tier 2, but Greater London, most of Essex and parts of Hertfordshire are to be moved into Tier 3 from midnight tomorrow night.  Tier reviews will now be once a week rather than once a fortnight … er, even though we haven’t even had the first one yet.

Two councils in London have told schools to close early for Christmas.  Well, move to online learning.  The government is not happy.

Back into full lockdown for the Netherlands.  Until January 19th!

We have been drawn against Real Sociedad in the Europa League.  They’re currently top of La Liga!  That’s the worst draw we could have got!

And my old headmistress died this morning.  She was 88, so she had a good innings, but it’s quite sad that, because of the virus restrictions, only 30 people will be able to attend the funeral.

At least it’s stopped raining!

 

Tuesday, December 15th

We’ll find out tomorrow whether or not we’re being moved into Tier 2, but, after all the optimism a fortnight ago, hopes are fading.  This wretched spike in one small area’s set our borough back, although rates are thankfully now falling again, and rates are actually edging up a bit in Salford and Trafford.   More than that, there are concerns that rates are going to go right up after Christmas, as they did in the US after Thanksgiving.  There’s even talk that the Christmas amnesty could be scrapped, although I don’t think the government’d dare, and I don’t think people’d take any notice if they did.  And some business owners are worried about the prospect of spending a lot of time and money on reopening, only to be shut down again a couple of weeks later, as has happened to businesses in London.

Having said all of that, I’m desperately hoping for Tier 2.  I can stand a lot of things, but not being told that I can’t stay away overnight and am not even supposed to leave the area, even to go to neighbouring areas.  I’ve still got my booking at the Chester spa hotel I go to every year during “Twixmas”, but am prepared to have to cancel it 😦 .

The London boroughs which were going to close schools have agreed to keep them open.

It has been pointed out numerous times that the scientific advisory committee and several senior Cabinet ministers wanted to put London into Tier 3 straight after lockdown, and that it was Boris who said no.

No-one is impressed with all the messing about.

819,000 jobs were lost in the UK between the start of the pandemic and the end of October, 297,000 of them in the hospitality sector.  And that’s before Lockdown II.

Meanwhile, the gym has finally reopened … but it’s limited hours only, so I’m going to leave it for now.

 

Wednesday, December 16th

The “review” of the tierings has been carried out, but we aren’t allowed to know the results until tomorrow.  I’m sure Matt Hancock’s getting a kick out of this.  He’s like that bossy woman at a cafe, who made me go out and come back in because I’d inadvertently walked in through the “exit” door, even though I was already in by then, and there was no-one else there so it didn’t matter anyway.  “I have the power!”  Meanwhile, the infection rate in our borough aren’t dropping much, because of an outbreak at another care home!  I don’t believe this.  However, the rate is below the national average.  Ditto every other borough in Greater Manchester, other than Rochdale and that’s only fractionally above.  North of here, the rates in Rossendale, Burnley and Pendle are higher than they are here, but less than half what they are in parts of Kent.  I don’t know why Kent’s suddenly got so bad, but I don’t understand anything about this mad virus.

The government doesn’t want to cancel Christmas, a) because there’ll be a backlash (almost 3 3/4  centuries on, people still go on about Oliver Cromwell cancelling Christmas) and b) no-one will take any notice because people have already made their plans, but the Scottish and Welsh authorities have told people to make their bubbles 2 households rather than 3, and the Scottish government’s said that people should only meet up for a day and not stay overnight.  What if you’ve got a long journey?  Not everyone’s nearest and dearest live nearby.  And are people really going to ring Uncle John or Auntie Mary and tell them that they’re uninvited and will have to spend Christmas on their tod?  Oh, what a muddle.  There’s just no answer.  People are getting very down about being separated from their loved ones.  But infection rates are going up in most areas, even those under the highest level of restrictions.

300 people spent the night on a ferry in the Mersey (as opposed to a ferry ‘cross the Mersey), after several crew members on the Birkenhead to Belfast ferry tested positive for the virus.

Wales is going back into lockdown after Christmas.  There’s talk that the Republic of Ireland may do the same.  Italy is suffering badly.  Even in South Korea, where they’ve done so well, Seoul is running short of hospital beds.  It’s just a nightmare.

I’m hearing one tale of woe after another about kids being sent home from school to self-isolate – which. at this stage, messes up their plans and their families’ plans for the Christmas holidays.  The nursery and reception classes at my younger nephew’s school were sent home today.  These are little kids of just 3, 4 or 5 years old.   I really think that schools need to close.  I can’t believe I’m saying this: I would have had complete hysterics if my education had been disrupted and put my chances of getting top exam results at risk, plus there are the problems faced by parents who can’t work from home.  But nothing else is working.

And we are being advised to keep the windows open during Christmas dinner.  I don’t think even Victorians stressing about TB did that.

 

Thursday, December 17th

Oh FFS.  Bristol and North Somerset get moved down from Tier 3 to Tier 2.  (And Herefordshire gets moved down from Tier 2 to Tier 1.)  But Greater Manchester, West Yorkshire, Birmingham/Warwickshire and the North East all get left in Tier 3.  Even though infection rates have plummeted.  Even though infection rates here are now way below what they were in much of the South East, and indeed parts of Merseyside, when they got put in Tier 2.  If they’d said that they didn’t want to reduce restrictions anywhere until they saw what happened after Christmas, I could have understood that.  But, as ever, it’s one rule for the South and one rule for the North.  Bristol gets moved down.  Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham, Newcastle, etc, do not.  Even areas where the infection rate is below 100 per 100,000 do not.

I am SO fed up and pissed off.

The furlough scheme’s been extended until April.

Secondary school kids, other than those doing exams, are to work online for the first week of the new term.

Berkshire, Bedfordshire, the rest of Hertfordshire, most of Surrey (how come it’s OK to split counties in the South, but not in the North or the Midlands?), and parts of Sussex, Cambridgeshire and Hampshire move into Tier 3.

I could slap Matt Hancock’s irritating face.  He harps on and on about how everyone needs to “work hard” and “pull together” to bring infection rates down, like it’s everyone’s personal fault if rates are high.  Then, when rates do come down, nothing changes.

Sacha Lord, the Greater Manchester “night time economy advisor” (who was the year above me at our brother school) was on Sky News this morning, asking why it’s OK to walk round the Trafford Centre but not to sit in a socially distanced café.  You may well ask, Sacha.  You may well ask.

Andy Burnham’s comment:

“It isn’t equal treatment. It’s as simple as that. When we had higher cases and cases rising, we were left on our own. When London and the South East have them it looks like everyone has to have them.”

The leaders of Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield councils have all spoken out about the unfair treatment of the North.

Emmanuel Macron’s tested positive for the virus.   So the head of the European Council, the French PM, the Spanish PM, the Portuguese PM and the Taoiseach are all having to self-isolate.  Obviously, this is not funny …

Northern Ireland’s going into a 6 week lockdown.  Straight after Boxing Day.

The Aussie Open’s been postponed by 3 weeks.  At least we know where we’re up to, but it’s usually the one thing that makes January bearable, even in a normal year.  Bleurgh.  And the socially distanced pantomime, planned when we were told that it was OK for theatres to open, has been cancelled.

On a happier note, I went to Lightopia at Heaton Park this evening, and it was brilliant!  At least that was allowed to go ahead!

 

And United won 3-2 at Sheffield United – the first time I’ve watched a United match on Amazon Prime.

 

Friday, December 18th

Just as if we haven’t got enough problems, the Greater Manchester Police Force has been placed into special measures after a report found that there were all sorts of problems.  Chief Constable Ian Hopkins has resigned.  Some people are trying to blame Andy Burnham.  Talk about it never rains but it pours!

Were I not so pissed off with Boris, Hancock & co over the way they’ve treated Greater Manchester, I could almost feel sorry for them.  If they cancelled the Christmas bubble plans, there’d be a huge backlash, and people would meet up anyway.  So they haven’t.  So people are moaning that this’ll mean a big increase in cases – and the R number’s already back above 1.  People have said that schools need to be closed for a while: some councils actually told schools to close.  So they’ve said that secondary school kids not in exam years should work online for the first week of the Easter term.  So now teachers are moaning that they haven’t been given enough time to plan lessons.

I had a blood donation appointment this morning.  I got a mince pie on the NHS!  It’s my third appointment since the pandemic started.

And I had to wait in a queue to get on the National Trust website this morning, which has never happened before.  And this was at 7 am!  I got tickets for Dunham Massey for Boxing Day and New Year’s Day, for the times I wanted, so that was fine, but zillions of people must have logged on at once, trying desperately to find something to do over the holidays.  I must cancel the spa hotel in Chester … I’m putting it off because it’ll upset me to do it.  Someone I know’s just been to a hotel in the Lakes.  They booked it months ago, and, when they rang to explain, the hotel staff said that they were so desperate for the business that they couldn’t care less if people were coming from Tier 3 areas.

Boris has been to Bolton today.  Presumably trying to convince people that he does actually know where the North West is.

It’s a week till Christmas …

 

Saturday, December 19th

Just when you thought 2020 couldn’t get any worse.  Why did the bloody virus have to mutate?  In England?  Just now?

Thanks to this mutant strain of the virus, which has appeared in the South East, Christmas has been cancelled.  Everywhere in the South East which has just gone into Tier 3 is now in Tier 4, which is pretty much the same as the lockdown which the whole country was in from early November to early December, and travel between Tier 4 areas and the rest of the country is banned.  Similar restrictions are being introduced across Wales and Scotland.  It’s initially only until December 30th in the English areas affected, but it’s hard to see that much will change in 11 days.

So my sister and brother-in-law and nephews, whom I haven’t seen since the end of August, now can’t come to us as planned.

The rest of us, Tiers 1, 2 and 3 can still form a three household bubble, but only on Christmas Day.   People in Scotland and Wales may also form “Christmas bubbles”, but, again, only on Christmas Day.

I have actually cried.  It’s no-one’s fault, but … oh, we were so close.  Just days away.

There have been worse years.  80 years ago, nearly 700 people were killed in the Manchester area, in the Christmas Blitz.

But this is still a real kick in the teeth.  Thankfully, this new strain doesn’t seem to be any more dangerous, but it does spread more quickly.  Every time you think this virus can’t throw anything else at us, it does.

In other news:

I had my hair cut and dyed this morning.  The appointment was booked weeks ago, but, with another lockdown possible (hair salons remain open here, but will have to close in Tier 4 areas), I’m glad it’s been done.

I went to Sale Water Park this afternoon, just for somewhere different to go.

Christmas is off in Italy as well.

And I cancelled my Twixmas spa break.  Given that I’ve lost my trips of a lifetime to Iceland and Japan this year, you wouldn’t think that losing a night outside Chester would have upset me, but it did.  I think it was very good of me to cancel.  Someone I know went to a hotel down south and gave a false (Merseyside, so Tier 2) address.

Bleurgh.

 

Sunday, December 20th

Could someone please wake me up from this nightmare?  We can’t take much more.  I actually feel sorry for Boris: I would have cracked up completely if I were him.  I just can’t believe how much things have escalated in the space of a couple of days.

Apart from the odd sanctimonious person who’s saying that any sensible person wouldn’t have made any plans for Christmas anyway, people are upset over the Christmas plans being changed.  And whingeing that Boris left it so late – but he didn’t have the data on the mutant strain until yesterday.

Shocking scenes from the London railway stations last night.  You’d have thought people were fleeing from an invading army.  No-one’s supposed to be travelling out of a Tier 3 area (Tier 4 rules apply from today) before Christmas, but the stations were jam packed, and trains to all four corners of Britain, plus Paris and Brussels, were also jam packed.  Why the hell did no-one stop this?

Several countries, including the Republic of Ireland, have imposed travel bans on the UK.  It’s not a surprise.  We imposed a travel ban on Denmark over the mink.  If this new strain that emerged in Spain in the summer had been identified sooner, maybe the second wave wouldn’t be as bad as it is.  TBH, I think the new strain’s probably spread already.  I sincerely hope not – rates in our borough are falling, and, although rates across Greater Manchester are rising, the week-on-week increase is only 3.4%, which isn’t too bad – but it seems likely.

So holidays are off, which is bad enough, but more of a problem is that France has banned freight traffic for 48 hours.  The Port of Dover is closed.  I just cannot believe that this is happening.  I should imagine we’re going to see panic-buying over the next couple of days … even though, at this time of year, a lot of fresh fruit and veg comes from outside Europe anyway, and, as yet, it’s only European countries and Israel imposing bans.

I wonder if the Queen’d mind her Christmas Speech being broadcast a few days early!  OK, I’m not being serious, but we urgently need to pull together, and the Queen’s the only person who can pull us together.

I just cannot believe what is happening.  Vaccinations have just started.  We’re supposed to be getting towards the end of this nightmare.  Instead, it’s just got a million times worse.  There were nearly 36,000 new infections today.  Last Sunday, there were just under 18,447.

In other news:

  1. United beat Leeds 6-2.  This is the best thing that’s happened all week.
  2. Lewis Hamilton is Sports Personality of the Year.
  3. I’ve been to Hollingworth Lake (again).
  4. My sister managed to get a turkey roll and the trimmings, so at least they’ll have a Christmas dinner … just, sadly, not with us.  My brother-in-law’s mum and dad will be joining us, though.

For a short time this morning, I put some Christmas music on, re-read some festive scenes from children’s books, as I do every year, and tried to block this nightmare out.   It’s the travel bans that get me.  We can’t even go to Liverpool at the moment, FFS.  It’s all making me feel trapped, which is my main anxiety symptom.  But there are bigger things going on here.  We are suddenly in a huge crisis.  And we’re on our own.  And we’re not even united.

I wish I could Do Something.   Instead of wasting the next 4 days on pointless work.

I know.  80 years ago – well, 80 years ago, minus a few days – we were facing the Christmas Blitz.  Nearly 700 people in the Manchester/Salford area were killed.  There have been worse times.  But this is still a pretty crap time.

 

 

Lockdown Week 13 – June 15th to 21st 2020 inclusive

Monday, June 15th

Non-essential shops can reopen from today.  People queued for an hour outside Primark, TK Maxx and Foot Locker in town.  All right for those who’ve been furloughed, eh?!  I don’t really want to go shopping.  I’d just like to walk round town, be able to go into my favourite cafe for a drink, and not have to worry about where I’m going to find a toilet that’s open!

There’s been some discussion on Facebook today about how everyone is getting ratty.  12 weeks of lockdown, holidays being cancelled, and no sign of things getting back to normal for months to come, plus having your head bitten off for making perfectly polite and reasonable comments about “culture wars”, and tempers are fraying.  Also, it’s very humid today.  We had a storm earlier – luckily, having seen the weather forecast, I’d gone to the park early, so wasn’t out in it – but that hasn’t cleared it.  And my hair is really bothering me in the humid weather.

I went to the office this morning.  Two colleagues also called in whilst I was there.  It was nice to see them.  I am so, so pissed off with the way the bosses are treating us, but it’s nice to catch up with colleagues and see that they’re OK.  Apart from needing haircuts!

 

Tuesday, June 16th

It’s now only 18 days until July 4th.  So are hairdressing salons and hotels reopening then or not?  People need notice.  This really is a shambles.   On a happier note, the free school meals voucher scheme’s to be continued during the summer holidays, following a campaign by Marcus Rashford.  I am so, so proud of him.  No political points-scoring, no name-calling, no insults – just making his point, making it well, and rallying public opinion behind him.  But it doesn’t say much for the Government that a 22-year-old footballer’s got more idea of what needs doing than they have!

It sounds as if an existing drug can help to treat seriously-ill Covid 19 patients, which is good news.  And cinemas could be reopening in mid-July.  But another 233 deaths were reported today.  OK, it’s always bad on a Tuesday, but it shouldn’t still be that bad.

Went to Tesco and M&S this morning, then into the precinct because you can’t get Slimming World chips from anywhere but Iceland!   It was noticeable that the independent cafes were open for takeaways, really trying, whilst the chains were shut.

And the US Open’s going ahead.  Without fans.  So what will Rafa and Nole do?  I desperately want to see some tennis.  I particularly desperately want to see some tennis involving Rafa.  But I do understand the players’ concerns.  No-one’ll be in shape, and they won’t be match-fit even if they’ve been training hard, but we’ve got to start somewhere … but is now the time?

 

Wednesday, June 17th

Oh no.  Everything has gone wrong.  Well, football’s back, tennis is coming back, and I has tea at Mum and Dad’s, so it should have been a wonderful day.  We all sat down for tea together, and watched the football – Villa v Sheff Utd first, then City v Arsenal, with sound effects which were great.  And I had a walk in the park earlier.

BUT – we had the most horrendous storm last night.  I think it was the worst storm I can ever remember.  And the internet went down.  And the phone went fuzzy.  I assumed it was interference, but it didn’t come back on.  I got completely hysterical, and hardly slept all night.  I managed to get through to BT this morning, and they are sending an engineer, but I’m pretty stressed.

I rang work to explain that I wasn’t able to use the remote connection, and said that I’d see what I could do without it: I’ve got some files at home.  The next thing I knew, the boss had rung to try to hassle me into going to sit in the office building, which shouldn’t even be open.  I was really upset.

 

Thursday, June 18th

Oh no.  I do not believe that this is happening.  The engineer came, spent 2 hours messing about, and then said that:

  1.  The hub had been damaged by lightning.  They would send a new hub by post, but, “due to coronavirus”, would not let me book an engineer to set it up and reconnect all my devices.
  2. He had had to rewire the phone.  The phone in the study works – although it’s still fuzzy, but the fuzziness goes off when the hub’s disconnected, and he claimed that it’ll work OK when the new hub’s in – but the phones in the front room and the bedroom are now dead, and I’ve got no answering machine.  He refused to rewire the other phones “because of coronavirus” and said that I would have to order wireless phones and set them up myself.  Amazon Prime are bringing them tomorrow, which is OK, but I am useless with IT.
  3. He would order a new hub, which would be delivered tomorrow.

Later, I got an e-mail to say that the hub would not be coming until Monday.  MONDAY.  And I now don’t know what to believe.  Are they saying Monday to cover themselves?  Am I supposed to wait in for 3 days?  I’ve got a Royal Mail tracking number, but it just says “no information yet”.

I got so upset that Mum and Dad came down to look after me.

My cousin rang, and helped me to set up a mobile hotspot link to my laptop, so that’s something.  Bless her!  However, I doubt it’s strong enough to work on the remote connection to work, plus I assume that will eat all my data.  I told work I had had an anxiety attack (which was sort of true) and would need tomorrow off ill – I felt bad for lying, but I suspect they would have made me take a day’s leave otherwise, and we only get the legal minimum and I urgently need the days for a break later in the year.  But, at that point, I thought the hub was coming tomorrow and I’d be back up and running by Monday.  A lot of friends have said that their bosses would understand that they were hardly to blame for a lightning strike.  Oh, to be so lucky!

I have coped OK until now, but I am really struggling with this.  It’s … well, it is to do with lockdown, because the guy would at least have reconnected the other phones otherwise, and they might have moved themselves to post the hub sooner.

I do not believe that this is happening.  It is a nightmare.  And I should be so happy, because United are playing tomorrow.

And Dame Vera Lynn’s died.  I know she was 103, but she was so important to the country … and she won’t even get a proper funeral, as things are.  RIP a very great lady.

 

Friday, June 19th

The hub is coming tomorrow.  But I have booked a ticket for Brodsworth Hall for tomorrow morning.  Mum and Dad have kindly offered to housesit until I get back.  I’ll have to try not to think about it all until I get back – I’ve really been looking forward to going, and want to be able to enjoy it.

The new phones came.  However, you have to charge them for at least 16 hours before plugging them into the phone socket!  So I have no idea whether or not they work.  And I’m not starting trying in the morning, because I need to leave early to make my timeslot for Brodsworth.  So then I’ll be faced with everything at once.  And I’m catastrophising like mad.

The only good thing about this is that it’s meant I’ve had a break from being chained to the office computers – and I didn’t half need that.  I really, really did need it.

It’s rained nearly all day, again.  I made it to the post office and back, to post a friend’s birthday present, without getting too wet, but had to change my shoes and socks after it poured down during my walk in the park!

And it’s United v Spurs, at Spurs, tonight!!   Our last match was the derby.  78,000 people there.  We beat City.  It was amazing.  And look what’s happened since.  But we’re back!

Saturday, June 20th

Will this nightmare never end?  The new phones do not work.  Well, they light up, and you can ring in and out, but the line’s so fuzzy that you can’t hear much, and the person you’re speaking to can’t hear you.  So is there still a problem with the line, or are the phones – which were brand new, and not cheap – faulty?  Short of asking someone if they’d mind disconnecting their phone so that I can plug these into their socket, or spending yet more money on another lot, I don’t know how to find out.  There’s a “help”line, but it’s not open till Monday, and I’d have to disconnect the phones to ring it because I can’t get to speak to anyone on my mobile, as it’s a “press button 1, press button” thing and doesn’t recognise it from mobiles.  The old phone does work in the socket, which suggests that the line is clear and the phones are faulty, but it seems odd that new phones – and they’re BT’s own make, so they should be decent – don’t work.

On the positive side:

1.  The new hub came.  I managed to connect it, get it going, and get all my devices connected to it.  Phew.  And touch wood!  It is a nightmare having no broadband, especially at the moment when you’ve got to pre-book everything.

2.  United drew 1-1 at Spurs … I’d obviously have preferred a win, but it’s so good to be back!

3. My hairdresser messaged me, to say that, assuming the July 4th reopening date isn’t put back, she’s reopening the salon then.  I’ve got an appointment in July 5th at 8am!  They don’t usually open on Sundays, and they don’t usually open at 8am any day, but everyone wants their hair done!

4.  I had a lovely morning at Brodsworth Hall, and went to the park later.

Brodsworth Hall:

 

Sunday, June 21st

OK, this is weird.  I tried the new phones at several different times yesterday.  They were fuzzy every time.  I tried them again this afternoon and, touch wood, they were OK.  So it’s not that the equipment’s faulty … which could have been solved by getting replacements.  But what on earth is it?  The BT “help” (hah!) pages go on about them using wireless frequencies and something causing interference.  But what?  It said it could be something in a neighbour’s house … like what?  And what do I do if it keeps happening?

Hmm.

Went to Hollingworth Lake this morning.  I walked round once, then Mum and Dad arrived and I walked round again, with them, which was lovely, especially with it being Father’s Day (which ought to be spelt “Fathers’ Day”!).  All the cafes there are open now, although I’m sticking with The Olive and Pickle which I’ve been going to ever since it opened.  The lakeside café in Heaton Park, where I went later, has also reopened.  This is just for takeaways, but it’s something.  A local Italian restaurant’s turned part of the seating space into a deli shop: they obviously don’t expect sit-down service to be resuming any time soon 😦 .   But the papers are all saying that hairdressers will be given the go-ahead for July 4th.  Hooray!!

And so ends Week 13.

 

 

 

Goodbye lockdown locks, hello cafes, stay safe

  Hooray!  For the first time since March 19th, I’ve had my hair cut and coloured, and I no longer look like an ageing refugee from the 1980s (even if my music collection is still pretty much entirely 1980s).  I’ve been to my favourite café in town:  it reopened this weekend.  And, at Fountains Abbey yesterday, I had my first National Trust scone since March 14th.   I’ve been very impressed with the safety measures that most – not quite all, but most – organisations have put in place, and all the amount of hard work, not to mention that money, that’s gone into it all.  The salon’s even got a room upstairs where vulnerable or nervous clients can have their hair done away from anyone other than their stylist.

These are very strange and difficult times, and there’s no sign of things getting back to normal any time soon, but – and I do appreciate that things are different for people with health issues, and I do so wish they weren’t – we can’t shut the country down indefinitely, or else we’re going to end up with mass unemployment and a mental health pandemic.  So we need to move on.  Carefully.

We’re not using to dealing with an invisible enemy.  We can do defiance.  We marched back into town after the IRA bombing in 1996 and the Islamic fundamentalist bombing in 2017, determined that we weren’t going to be defeated by terrorists.  We’ve heard about how our grandparents’ and great-grandparents’ generation kept calm and carried on when the Luftwaffe were raining bombs down on our city night after night.  But, as some of our American friends are sadly finding out, defiance doesn’t work against coronavirus.   Social distancing, more frequent handwashing, wearing masks where appropriate … these are things we’ve all got to do.

It’s weird seeing hand sanitising stations at the entrances to shops, salons, cafes, restaurants, pubs and shopping centres.  It’s weird when you go to have your hair done, and you’re wearing a mask and the hairdresser’s wearing a visor – and you can’t even have a cup of tea.  It’s weird being asked to follow a one way system round the Arndale Centre, and to use certain doors only as an entrance and other doors only as an exit.

And it’s very weird indeed having to give your details when you go to a café.  That freaked me out a bit.  I’ve got a “staycation” booked for August, and I won’t be going to any cafes for three weeks prior to that.  This “test and trace” thing is not good for my anxiety, as much as I understand the need for it.  I’ve been very freaked out by the pictures from Leicester, which is in local lockdown.  Police everywhere, people being stopped and asked for their details if they’re out in their cars … again, I understand the need for it, but these are things we associate with totalitarian regimes, or at least with wartime.  Seeing that going on in a British city in peacetime is very scary indeed.

But we need to move on.  So many job cuts have sadly been announced already.  More will follow.  And there are quality of life issues: many people are beginning to struggle mentally.  And this is the only way we can move on: we’ve seen from what’s happened elsewhere that we can’t just go back to how things were.  How I wish we could.  I want to go to a football match.  I want to know that the Christmas markets are going to be on.  I’m worried about what’s going to happen to the local economy.  Metrolink’ve just spent a fortune on the Trafford Centre extension, and hardly anyone’s using it.   Hotels can reopen, but people come to Manchester to go to the theatre or live concerts or football matches, and you can’t do any of that at the moment.  I’m extremely worried about the future of theatres and live music venues.  And when will the gym reopen?

But we’re making a start.  And it’s been great.   I cannot say how relieved I am to have had my hair done!   It was getting to the point where I was amazed that people still recognised me.  And it was lovely to be back at The Vienna Coffee House.  And it was nice to feel that I was giving people my little bit of support.  I’ve been going to The Vienna Coffee House ever since it opened, I’ve been going to the same hairdresser for nearly 20 years, and my life would be very empty without the National Trust (and its scones).

Who knows when this nightmare’s ever going to end?  My respect for the generations who lived through six years of war, and then the austerity years afterwards, is growing even higher than it already was, every single day.    But this weekend’s been a big step forward.  We just all need to be so careful, and it’s not easy, when this is all so strange and different.  But most people are really trying – especially all the hairdressers and pub landlords/landladies and café/restaurant owners and managers who’ve worked so hard to get ready for reopening.   As Boris said, let’s not blow it!   Let’s enjoy it instead.