Are you reading this in lockdown?

Wherever you are, it is likely your movements have been curtailed to some extent.

It all happened so quickly. Two Mondays ago I had a meeting here with two of my fellow church trustees. We started to discuss this new virus and declared that we wouldn’t rush to close the church down.

The next day people who had booked rooms at our building started to cancel. Next, speakers for our midweek meetings started cancelling.

I sent an email round the trustees with some options for when we would hold our next meeting. Within two hours of this, all the participating denominations in our ecumenical partnership – the Baptists, Methodists and United Reformed Church – all contacted us to tell us to shut everything down.

And so we did.

All the groups I am involved in and all the meetings I was due to attend, all gone, gone, gone.

It felt surreal.

So how is it in lockdown for a visually-impaired person?

In some ways I am lucky. I work from home and, at present, still have work, so my daily routine hasn’t changed that much. As you might guess from my last three blog posts, I spent the first eight days of the crisis trying to get all my specialist software working properly on my new computer and learning how to use the latest version of Microsoft Office. I didn’t have time to think very much about the virus.

Since then, life has fallen into a pattern of sorts. The big difference, of course, is that I’m seeing fewer people. My PA is still getting my shopping but rather than coming in to work with me in my office, she has taken home with her some print copies of children’s books that I am checking so we can proofread them over the phone or via Messenger.

My cleaner, who, I suspect, can’t afford not to work, is still turning up once a week. We make sure that we are hardly ever in the same room and she wears gloves the whole time she is here. At the end of her work, I hand her her cash in a money bag, to minimise the contact between us.

I did have an “interesting” visit to the doctor’s surgery, though. It happened like this.

I have to have regular blood tests. I received two text messages on my mobile phone the week before my latest appointment. One was a reminder and the other said, “Ring before attending.”

I tried calling the surgery the day before the appointment. I couldn’t get through, but I did manage to speak to someone first thing the next day. She told me that if I hadn’t been contacted by the nurse, I should come in. I duly called a taxi. The driver had spent part of the morning taking key workers to their places of employment around the town. Apart from that, he said, there was little trade.

We arrived at the surgery.

The driver kindly helped me in. There was a barrier of chairs preventing patients from getting too close to the reception desk. I called my name across the no-man’s-land. I was told to go upstairs.

Easy for you to say!

After I had explained that I was visually impaired, the receptionist came out from behind her desk and made her way around the barricade. She then guided me upstairs. I made sure I didn’t touch her skin when I took her arm, but she assured me she was wearing gloves.

The surgery was eerily quiet. The nurse called me in and tried to guide me in such a way that I hardly touched anything.

Afterwards, the nurse put a pair of gloves on me so that I was protected in the taxi home. She was concerned that I didn’t know what I might be picking up. She also kindly gave me two spare pairs to take home.

One of my regular drivers picked me up. I hastened to reassure him that I wasn’t wearing gloves because I was infectious and that it was simply a precaution. He took it in his stride but, like the other driver, told me how little work there was at the moment.

Apart from that, I’m home every day, grateful that I have a garden to walk out into to get fresh air and a change of scene. My heart goes out to those who don’t have this facility.

Given that we are all now so isolated, I am profoundly glad to be living in a time when technology allows us to still keep in contact. WhatsApp, the phone, email and Messenger are all helping me to keep in touch with friends and family. I also enjoy my niece’s weekly pub quiz, live from her lounge on Facebook on Monday nights. (The link is here. You’ll have to send her a Friend request, but make sure you mention that you’re a friend of her Auntie Judy!)

Our poetry group is going to meet on Zoom and I was able to participate in a church-related meeting on that platform yesterday.

What of the future?

Among other things, I am concerned that I will miss my chiropractic appointment, which is due next week but, as my grandmother used to say, “Worse things happen at sea.” (Why a woman who lived in Buckinghamshire, which is nowhere near the sea, was so fond of this saying, I simply can’t imagine!)

I hope that, wherever you are, and whatever your circumstances you are remaining well and keeping sane. If you get really bored, you can always read all my past blog posts!