As we wince into the light at the end of the tunnel and the loosening of restrictions is mistakenly viewed as a free for all, now may prove timely for a retrospective as to how we collectively tackled the unwelcome interloper: Covid-19.

If ‘Corona’ was uttered pre-2020, you would immediately think of a mid-range lager that is improved considerably with a sliver of fresh lime. However, a few months after it made a public appearance, Covid now has its feet firmly under the kitchen table and is stubbornly refusing to vacate the house despite an eviction notice and a high court writ.

In the words of Gary Barlow, Everything Changes - be it working, socialising, shopping or trusting others, we will be forever be tainted by the virus’s legacy. The Government, bless them, despite purporting to be brave, noble and trustworthy leaders, did but stumble headlong down a darkened corridor as they, and their scientific advisors, guesstimatated societal effects on the one hand and the number of body bags required on the other.

To say work was affected sells short those who lost their jobs and those of us lucky enough to remain employed: can I work from home? What if my kid gets ill? How do I use Zoom? Can I trust the internet connection? And why does my wife insist on wearing the Simpsons nightie when I’m on a webcam call to the boss?

The shops were emptying as panic spread and we became concerned about provisions. Andrex, for a while, was seen as rarely as a bobby on the beat. We questioned exactly how far we were prepared to go for our families as we snatched at bags of self-raising flour as my family are more needy and worthy than yours: that’s the brutal, ugly, mindset we played out, as we blundered blindly into a dystopian landscape.

The NHS, as badly managed as it is, did not falter. Advice was sketchy, as, if suffering symptoms, we were effectively directed to, ‘watch Netflix and chill’.

For a while, anarchy rained down on the brass and iron clad icons of yesteryear, as we worried that bins would overflow, while questioning whether the police could manage to get up off their knees for long enough to respond to criminal activity. We were rightly concerned that families might go hungry due to not being furlough eligible. Shut shops remained inert as a dog eat dog attitude permeated, despite us finding that the cashpoints continued to work. Petrol shortages were a figment of the imagination and we redefined societal norms such as no handshaking or hugs, whilst begrudgingly embracing the onset of lifelong mental trauma and PTSD.

Maybe it’s a bit early for hindsight, but, even with rioting recently, we did not reach Armageddon. This could be a temporary blip to our free market way of doing things, like previous financial crashes or the bank runs. Yet, no matter what happens from here on in, we must try to instil calm for the sake of the kids. We cannot put the fear we are all feeling onto them. Children should not be asking where their next meal is coming from or if Grandma is going to be dead by this time next week. The truth is we are transferring our tangible angst onto offspring who should be worried about the next episode of In the Night Garden and not on the importance of wearing face masks and standing on gaffer taped lines as we are herded like cattle from pillar to post.

Whichever way it now goes, this situation is unprecedented and will be read about in history books in a century’s time.

There is little we can do apart from plot down and see the world outside our window as the enemy. The homestead should be sanctuary, as those who should be self-isolating venture out sporadically, to tentatively embrace life once more, as we wish we were back discussing Brexit and ripping each other apart through political standpoints instead.

Make no mistake, this is a global cock-up of monstrous proportions, but we are hopefully over the hump. The return to full ‘normality’, whatever that may now mean, will be slow and gradual, as we hope and pray that the Chinese government can at last play ball, show some contrition, and be an agent for change whilst ensuring that coronavirus is not just the starter before the future main course.

  • Brett Ellis is a teacher