Expat Chronicles: Snow in April; Covid Forever

We had a gentle little wisp of a morning snowfall here in London on this 5th day of April, 2021, maybe enough snow to fill a brandy snifter. It was here and then gone, just like that. I noticed it while getting ready for my daily bike ride. Little flakes of snow parachuting down from the perpetually cloudy London sky.

I thought to myself, “Well, now. This is unexpected. Snow today, is it? Why are you here, snow? Don’t you know it’s April? Don’t you know we are sick of the cold/slash/wet GD weather that has been our constant GD companion since GD October or so?”

But the gentle little snow just kept on tumbling down.

Today is also a Bank Holiday in the UK, meaning many people have the day off. My wife is off. Our kids are on their two-week spring term break.

Ordinarily, we’d be out and about on a day like today, seeing the various treasures London has to offer. We might even have taken a short trip to some other European burg. We did that a few years ago. We hopped a train to Brussels during spring break. Fun trip; different era. It might as well have been a century ago.

Because these are not ordinary times.

The COVID-19 lockdown continues in the UK, even as other parts of the world are either open or opening. I see the pictures and videos. Friends in the States traveling hither and yon. Going to restaurants. Visiting bars. I would be jealous if I were the jealous type. But I’m nothing if not….okay, I’m f*****g jealous. F**k you and your sunny beaches and pretty plates of restaurant food.

Stores here are closed. Restaurants and pubs are closed. Museums: closed. Movie theaters: closed. My capacity to see the silver lining in all this: closed!

This latest lockdown began in November or something. I can’t even remember. The first lockdown was about a year ago, but then it was lifted for a while before another lockdown was put into place. That one was lifted for a while, too. Until this lockdown began.

We’re supposed to see some businesses opening back up in a week or two – non-essential stores; pubs and restaurants for patio or sidewalk dining only. A few offices might open again. In May, we are scheduled to be back in the full swing of things, with everything open for full services, albeit with social distancing still in place.

I used to keep up with all this stuff, but not so much anymore. The COVID-19 policies seem to shift on a dime, anyway. The authorities tell us to do this and this and this – until they suddenly swing around and tell us to do that and that and that instead.

Meanwhile, a new coronavirus variant is making the rounds over here in Europe, pushing the number of cases higher. All bets are off concerning when life will actually get back to normal.

I don’t even remember normal anymore. Do you? If so, please paint me a pretty picture of it, so I can crawl inside and curl up.

I’ve written about the coronavirus before, too many times. But what else am I going to write about on these occasional expat blogs? You can’t go anywhere. You can’t do anything. I’ve written about the weather, which changes constantly without really changing at all. The temps stay around 30 to 40 degrees F from fall to spring, and the rain is always just around the corner, ready to pounce. On weekends we take walks around the area. The walks are nice. Except that you walk past all the places that have been shut down by the coronavirus.  

Those who might have read earlier blogs know I’m firmly on the side of science when it comes to the coronavirus. I believe in masks, social distancing, hand sanitizer and, yes, lockdowns. Sure, I hate lockdowns. But if that’s what the people in the lab coats recommend, who am I to argue? Maybe we will be proven wrong one day. Maybe one day the anti-science geniuses will have their day in the sun, when they can say, “I told you so, sheeple!”

Until that day, I’ll just go along with the scientists.

I also have just enough brain matter to realize that compared to many others in the world, our coronavirus experience has been pretty tame. I can’t go out for a pint at a pub; millions of others have died. We’re stuck at home; millions of others have suffered financial devastation.

We’re lucky. I’m lucky.

Alas, I’m also human. And Christ almighty, I am so sick of all this. This lockdown, this pandemic, this new world. My mood is turning increasingly dark and testy. My patience is wearing thin. The walls are closing in on me. The neighborhood is closing in on me. Bloody London is bloody closing in on me. I can’t stand my neighbors because they are always around, even though I don’t know most of them, and I’m sure they are nice people. When you work from home, like I do, you don’t want the rest of the GD world working from home, too. You want your sacred space, all to your lonesome.

The National Health Service is rolling out the vaccine, but it is slow going. I got the first AstraZeneca shot a few weeks ago, but my next one isn’t due until late May. The time between the first shot (what they call a “jab” over here) and the second seems longer here than in other places.

Speaking of the AstraZeneca shot: It has created a bit of a storm over on this side of the pond because of some safety issues, and because the EU kind of flubbed the rollout.

This has all led to vaccines being delayed in many EU countries, which means they continue to lag other parts of the world in getting people vaccinated, which means lockdowns and travel restrictions will remain in place for the foreseeable future, which means our plans to travel to some of those places while we are actually living over here will…..

Oh, never mind. ‘Tis what ‘tis, as Shakespeare might have said. No use crying over spilled grog.

Anyway, the snow didn’t last long. Eventually the sky turned a clear and brilliant blue. It’s still kind of cold outside, but at least the sun came out.

And, miracle of miracles, it stayed out.

Note: Photo by my wife, Susan. The visual artist behind these stories.

Note: Don’t forget to order your copies of my upcoming novel, “Voodoo Hideaway!” Click here for more info!

2 Comments

  1. I sort of feel your pain, in the sense of despair about this virus just never going away. To be fair, it’s only been a bit more than a year, and don’t pandemics usually last a number of years? Patience is indeed a virtue…

    Still, it can be claustrophobic. I imagine the London weather doesn’t help… I’ve always found the dullness rather dreary, and I imagine it plays a role in depression in that part of the world. Summer is gorgeous, though (when there’s no heatwaves, that is).

    Hopefully the tide will turn soon for you guys there, and globally.

    We’re heading into our third wave, it’s been said, though I avoid news and fear mongering so I don’t really keep that top of mind. Our lockdowns beyond the first few months have been fairly bearable, and the financial impact hasn’t been dramatic for me personally…yet. I hope it stays that way.

    At least you have the book to focus on for the foreseeable future, so that must be helping with the sanity. Beyond that, I guess it’s just a waiting game. Hopefully your wait will get easier 🤛🏼.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the feedback Yacoob, and very good points. And you are right: pandemics do tend to last much longer than a year — at least in terms of historical precedence. But they do tend to get shorter as medicine, technology and information advances. The Black Plague lasted years, but then they didn’t have the medical and communication tools we have today.

      Presumably we are much better equipped to handle it now. But that’s not my main concern. I would have been fine if the world’s authorities would have said a year ago that we will have to be in lockdown until the end of 2020, and we can beat this thing. But they didn’t say that. The message was always mixed –we will go into lockdown for a couple months, then we will open up again, and all will be fine. And so they did that, but as soon as they opened up the cases surged again. Then they had to scramble back into defense mode.

      I understand that they are dealing with a new strain that is hard to pin down. I guess sometimes I think they are trying to have it both ways, by reassuring us that the virus is under control, while at the same time insinuating that it’s not under control unless we do everything they say, which seems impossible sometimes.

      Liked by 1 person

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