All I can tell you is that it’s left a lot of people very, very depressed. Its been a very long and lonely road that we’ve traveled, God only knows how people coped that had nobody and lived in a flat. Thank goodness I had my garden.
The way they made it sound on television is that everybody had the world offered to them but we didn’t get any support here in our street. It would be nice if other people that lived around you would be courteous enough to see if you are ok, most of them know that we live here in our own. Myself and one of my neighbours don’t have anybody. If it wasn’t for the fact that my neighbour was here, I’d have nobody really. I don’t see my son who lives locally and my daughter lives in America. My neighbour and I are in the same boat really, we talked over the fence – about anything and everything – and that’s what kept us sane. We didn’t talk quite so much before; I think during lockdown we just couldn’t wait to get out and talk. When I was in the garden, I could at least talk to people standing over there on the pavement, and that’s what gave me some social connection, because it’s exceedingly lonely otherwise. It wasn’t good when it rained, and no-one saw each other at all. People don’t realize that when it’s a week tiddling down with rain you are just stuck indoors and can’t see anybody.
I would have loved it if we’d had something like they showed on telly, where at 11 o’clock everyone just came out and put their chairs out, had a cup of tea, and chatted to each other over the road. Then after an hour they packed up and went inside saying see you at the same time tomorrow. That never happened here, people walked past on their way to town and one or two asked if I wanted anything, but they always asked after I’d got my shopping anyway. It was only me and my neighbour that used to come out to clap for the nurses. A couple down the end came out too and we used to wave at each other, but that was it, none of the others came out to clap them. So that was it, that was as much as they appreciate nurses. They lead you to believe on the telly that everyone is helping each other out, like the people in Birmingham who were making curries for each other, but no one here has done anything like that for us. We’ve been totally left alone, and no one came anywhere near us. It’s very lonely, I’ve never experienced loneliness like this before, never. But I’m only one voice in mega millions, who is going to listen? Nobody cares. I’m not well, I can’t breathe properly. I really struggle to get things done in the garden, and it’s that type of thing that nobody seemed to offer to help with. Just to say “you are not very well, would you like me to mow the grass for you?” There is a man that does it for some of the neighbors but not for us, nobody asks us.
We had food from the food parcels which was very kind of the government to do, but it was the same old stuff every week – there only so much tomato soup you can eat! I think that in the end I had more tins of Baxters tomato soup than Morrisons did! So I felt bad because there must be families that need this more than me, I can afford to shop out of my pension, but somebody else might not be able to, so I stopped the service. I didn’t want to waste the food I was given that I didn’t like, so I gave it on to the homeless. I only got it because I was high risk so wasn’t allowed to do my own shopping. They used to deliver it to me, a man would bring it here and he was very nice and caring.
I did ask my respiratory nurse if I couldn’t just go out a little bit but they said no, and warned me that I probably wouldn’t survive coronavirus if I got it bad. So when they said that I made sure I stayed in, and my son decided he would do the shopping for a while. Then that came to a grinding halt so I just went out and did it myself which I shouldn’t have done as I was supposed to be in isolation due to my pulmonary fibrosis. I worked out the quietest time to go in; If I left it until about 7.15 in the evening and no one was in M&S so I could go and get what I needed without any body pestering me, same with the other shops, I knew when they’d be quietest and I went then. Mainly I went to Morrisons, I didn’t go very often, I did enough to keep me going for 2 weeks. I didn’t go in the mornings when the nurses went or when the workers went. In the late afternoon or evening was good, it still is now really.
The bit of support I did have, that I was very grateful for, was the volunteers at the town hall, and the service they had where they would go and get peoples shopping or prescriptions for them, and they used to get my prescriptions for me. Because even when my son was doing the shopping for me, he didn’t want to wait in a queue at the pharmacy (it was so long and didn’t know how safe it was), so they did it for me. To me it made sense, because Morrisons would get all the prescriptions ready so the volunteers could just pick them up together and not have to keep going back in for different individuals. I only used them for that, they would have done my shopping if I wanted but I wasn’t ready for that yet. That was my own choice because I don’t like receiving help - I can be a stubborn woman so really, I’m my own worst enemy! I like to do my own shopping. I know what I want, for example stuff with a longer use by date, and I like it packed properly – and I just like to be able to talk to people you know? But I did like that you could call up somebody to get your prescription for you and if you weren’t worried what food you get then they could help you with your shopping
I was always a carer, so I’m used being the one who cared for others not being cared for! I just wanted to get out and help other people and not have them help me, but I couldn’t because I wasn’t allowed. I did do bits for my neighbors if I went out in the car.
The doctors were also good. One came out to see me, and the receptionists in the surgery were very good too. I even made a point of telling the surgery how good they were as I know they only usually get complaints.
On coming out of lockdown:
It was like coming out into a different world for us, being told “you are not to do this, not to do that, you cant do this and you can’t touch that” and you are thinking “woah, hold on a minute this is all new to me and I don’t know how to do it”. The first time I went back into a shop I was petrified. A lot of supermarket staff suddenly became like little Hitlers, shouting at you where to go. I felt sick, like the first time I ever did shopping for my mum when I was worried about getting the right things that she wanted – thinking “am I in the right place? is this what I’m supposed to be doing? I’m not supposed to be touching anything or talking to anyone”. I was told I can’t stand there and talk to people for hours like I normally do, I’ve just got to go in and get out, I was a nervous wreck by the time I came out. I just know so many people, anyone will tell you, I normally spend hours in town talking to people, but I can’t do that now.
There was an old guy in one shop who was stood right beside me, so I said I think you are little too close, and you should have heard the way he reacted! He said, how dare you speak to me like that, and when I explained I have breathing problem and so I don’t want to catch anything off anyone, he said “ I hope you die”. The poor girl on the till was mortified, apparently when I left, she went upstairs as she was upset so badly. When I next went in the manageress asked if I was alright, apparently, he upsets everyone that man.
I am exempt form wearing a mask because of my respiratory illness, so I’ve got a thing to say I don’t have to wear one, but I’ve had a lot of abuse for not wearing one. One younger man said “it’s because of people like you that won’t wear a mask that I could get the coronavirus” I told him I was exempt, he just said “that’s every one of you – you can just get the bit of paper from online and expect us all to believe you are exempt”. I offered to show him my medical notes and my puffer because I carry it around just for people like him, but he said he wasn’t interested, I should just wear a mask. I was so upset, I came out and bawled my eyes out, I was so embarrassed that I just left the shop. I wonder how he would feel if I had a go at his mother or grandmother the way he just had a go at me.
It’s nice to wear a mask to protect people but it can be hard to see what’s going on behind the mask.
On the handling of the lockdown:
It’s not just our age group, a lot of young people have been affected too – not to mention the poor old dogs when their owners go back to work and leave them on their own again!
I just think its all been handled so wrong, and its still being handled wrong. From the way that they made it sound on television that everyone cared, but they didn’t. And for the government to stop keep lying to us like they do. They are blaming everyone’s inefficiency on the virus – it’s a virus it doesn’t cause people’s inefficiency! Everything is blamed on the coronavirus and lockdown, but life can move on you know, it’s GOT to move on, but just in a way that doesn’t let it spread. Youngsters that can’t wait for football matches to start and pubs to re-open, they should be a bit more patient. We are made to interact with each other, but it’s very difficult when they put a stop to that. I did what was asked of me: to stay indoors. On the odd occasion I did a bit of shopping, but as my doctor said the other day, I did what was asked of me.
I used to be paranoid about the virus but I’m three score years and ten, anything I get over that is a bonus, and I don’t want to spend it in God’s waiting room locked up in bungalow. Life is for living!
I don’t know what the answer is. Somebody has to pay for this, and its going to be us. Its very nice of them to give food away and even reducing the price of breakfasts in Morrisons but it’s the government who pays for it, and who pays the government? US! And half the people are unemployed, so we rely on those that are employed to keep us going.