Life Not Returning to Normal In My Lifetime
Written by
Jenny Mulligan
Story by
Elizabeth Walsh
Performed by
Pamela Chandler

Life Not Returning to Normal In My Lifetime

If you have to be locked down, being by the sea is a bonus. But as Elizabeth faces another birthday in lockdown, is time slipping away? LIFE NOT RETURNING TO NORMAL IN MY LIFETIME follows one woman’s plans for the future – a future that looks uncertain but is worth fighting for.

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Audio description – performed by Kayla Meikle

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Story transcript

The first lockdown began on the day before my seventieth birthday. There was a program in the early eighties called Bullseye where you were shown the lovely new car that you would have won if you’d done better. My grown up children told me about the nice holiday I would have been taken on with the cream tea and a posh London hotel and the lovely seats in the theater they had planned. Oh, well, we will do it all when this is over. We didn’t think it would still be ongoing a year later.

My daughter Katy, her husband and children moved in with me a few months after my lovely husband Patsy died. At the time of the first lockdown Jack was thirteen, Orla was ten and Ruby was five. Katy’s uni course was put on hold, her husband Jason’ building work ground to a halt. Suddenly everyone was at home all day. Even the playgrounds were closed.

I wasn’t allowed to have my other three children around to celebrate my seventieth birthday though Jenny sneaked into the garden, had a cup of tea, cake and joined in singing Happy Birthday to you. We had proper pretty little old fashioned tea cups and side plates like my little old mum used to have. It was lovely. It was the last social occasion we had in many months.

It did feel like people were underfoot at times. All of us had been jolted out of our normal routines, nothing was as it usually was. It was strange for all of us, but it was helped by the unusually good weather. We live by the sea so we could go for walks and swim nearby. We have a garden and the kids have a little stage out there and put on shows for us. (proud nan) Jack, my eldest grandson, he is a really good singer and he sang hallelujah from behind the screen on the little stage thing because he was shy of singing while being watched but he’s alright now he can sing whilst being watched.

White Lines is the TV show I’ve binged on mostly, the character Boxer is gorgeous. I’ve got a big crush on Boxer even though he is a bit shorter than I usually like men. He is a bit of a brute but only to the bad guys – sexy as.

My sister Mary lives in Greenford and has been shielding since the first lockdown. She has quite severe copd and gets very breathless. It’s a very difficult and lonely time for some people, for all of us at some point. The first lockdown seemed hard enough, but this one is far more difficult. It is dark, cold and grey most days. It makes you aware of how much easier it was in the warmth and sun. I feel like I get more down than I used to. I wake up feeling like ‘’Oh god another day of not being able to go anywhere’’ I soon get over it but only sometimes I don’t and I slip into a bit of depression.

How are the kids going to be affected by this? When will it end? Will it ever end?

The most significant moment for me was being diagnosed as positive and being told by NHS text that I had coronavirus was very upsetting. Everyone had been talking about it for months and then you are told most unceremoniously that you have it. It’s like being told you’ve got the plague. It was frightening. I worried about getting long covid. I tested positive on December 18th 2020 and I still get very tired very easily. So I don’t feel like I’m 100% better yet. I feel like I am less patient than I used to be. People’s ignorant attitude towards the vaccine worries and annoys me. People who say coronavirus doesn’t exist infuriate me. Do they need the people they love to literally die in front of them to make them understand that this is real. I miss all the freedoms we took for granted. Going to a swimming pool, a cinema, going away for a couple of days or on holiday, hugging people without worrying. I miss my two yr old great grandson. I hope these freedoms come back fully in my lifetime.

There are so many things I want to do when this is all over. I’m starting to feel like that time won’t come. My mother died at the age of 69 and my father died when I was 17 and he was 60. I’ve lived longer than my parents did. I won’t be here forever. Will life still be restricted in 5 years time, who knows? And what will my health be like then? I know this is a scary time for everyone but I think older people have the worry that we won’t be able to do the things we want to do whilst we are still in good enough health to do them. I realise that no one knows how long they have to live or how long they are going to be in relatively good health. As you age you have the certainty time is limited and I have fibromyalgia, I’m already restricted in what I can do.

I just hope the vaccination program restores our freedom fully.

I’ve saved a few pounds because of not going out.

I hope to go on holiday after some normality returns.

We have lived through this slice of herstory together and survived (So far!).