How I survived a year of lockdowns in this crazy year of a global pandemic

As soon as the breakout of Covid-19 in Wuhan became news, I was following events there with great interest, not least because I have visited the city twice [some notes here].

Then, exactly a year ago today, Britain went into its first national lockdown. I noted in my diary: “Although this was widely expected and I am already more-or-less in compliance, it is a truly shocking development.” The television news that evening announced that the UK death toll was 335 of which 148 were in London where I live.

A week earlier, we had been warned that, if the country went into lockdown, a death toll of 20,000 would be “a good outcome” but that, without a lockdown, deaths could be up to 260,000. A year later, the official figure for deaths is just over 126,000 – one of the worst records in the world.

I don’t really know how long that first lockdown lasted because the restrictions were eased gradually, but I suppose it was around three months before we were able to have a reasonably normal summer. Then, in November, we had a second lockdown – this one for a month. At the beginning of January, we went into a third lockdown and are now almost three months into this.

I find myself reflecting how it has all been for me. The bottom line is : 1) I am alive; 2) I’ve not had covid; 3) I’ve had a first dose of the vaccine and next week with have my second dose; 4) I’m in good health physically and mentally. But it has been tough. Since I live alone and I’m gregarious, there has been some loneliness, isolation and boredom – nothing compared to the experience of many, many other people, but enough to make me reflective.

So, how have I coped with all these lockdowns?

I’ve walked a lot – every single day, whatever the weather. To give my walks some direction and purpose, I’ve taken photographs of many corners of central London and posted them on Facebook. The response of my FB friends has been a source of real encouragement in these isolated times.

I’ve read a lot – including some huge books such as “The Mirror And The Light” by Hilary Mantel (900 pages), “Churchill” by Roy Jenkins (900 pages), “A Promised Land” by Barack Obama (700 pages) and “All The King’s Men” by Robert Penn Warren (650 pages).

I’ve watched a lot of television – not all these series about crime and violence which seem to have been so popular with so many, but the BBC and CNN news, “The Daily Show” with Trevor Noah, a Sky Arts series on film directors, and as many films that I can find that I haven’t seen already. I even appeared on television – in a Valentine Day edition of “First Dates”!

I’ve written a lot – my daily diary, my blog, my website, Twitter, Facebook.

Perhaps above all, I’ve done a lot of video calls on Zoom, FaceTime, and WhatsApp. Since I’m retired, I’ve had no work calls unlike most people. Instead, in the first lockdown, I gave 26 history lessons to two 10 year olds who were away from school. In the first and third lockdowns, I’ve done a weekly film quiz with a young friend (we’ve now clocked up 16). And, of course, throughout there have been lots of chats with family and friends for which I’m deeply grateful.

But I am SO looking forward to seeing all these family and friends, to drinking and eating in cafes and restaurants, to seeing films in cinemas, to visiting art galleries and museums, and – one day – to travelling abroad again. Also I badly need a haircut.


  • Suzan Crewe

    Glad to hear you are well and vaccinated! I have had my first dose only and we are delaying the second one here for 16 weeks. Vic is in a care facility now so I am on my own too. I see my kids and still babysit the youngest grandchild so my ER nurse daughter can work. I have had very few hugs and miss them terribly! Hope to get over in September if Boris will allow.
    Cheers, Sue

  • Roger Darlington

    Sorry to hear about Vic but I guess he is in the best place for his needs. I hope that you’ll soon have those hugs and, of course, I’d be happy to see you if you’re in London.


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