Mercury and Argus, Jean Lemairec. 1630 – 1635, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, USA
At the start of lockdown, we were made to clamber backwards up our planks to prevent greater tragedy. Suddenly, the diary was completely cleared, and our lives put on hold. We were forced to confront the minutiae of life free from worldly distraction. For some it will have provoked intense anxiety, for others sweet relief. For more still, both. It was dramatic, unsettling, but also novel—we’d never experienced anything like it before.
But the novelty soon wore off. What at first had created a frisson of excitement, quickly became terminally dull. Like most people, I endeavoured to make the most of the pause—to learn a new skill, or augment an old one; to exercise body and mind—while tempering any sense of dread with the belief that it would all be over within months, if not weeks. Spring turned into summer and the desire for immediate release became less acute. Summer is, after all, about a temporary suspension of normal time. The weather was nice, I thought, I might as well enjoy it.
Morning 1926 Dod Procter 1892-1972 Presented by the Daily Mail 1927
Even after it became apparent that there would be no single moment when things returned to normal—no ‘VV day’, if you will—I was still slow to grasp the reality: calendrical annihilation. Plans pushed back from spring, then summer, were abandoned completely. A friend of mine didn’t know, definitively, whether her nine-person wedding would take place until the night before. The only social events capable of planning had to be small mobile affairs that could be moved or nixed at the last moment. There was to be no celebration, not now, and not for a while yet.
One of lockdown’s positive effects was the eradication of the FOMO epidemic. With nothing to feel jealous about we were treated instead to something that might be called ‘JOMO’, aka the Joy of Missing Out. When restrictions were eased, the green-eyed monster returned with a vengeance. I remember being surprised in late summer at how fast cars were driving down my street. Out cycling, I noticed a marked increase in road rage. Then it hit me (not a vehicle, thankfully), people were trying to make up for lost time.