Generations: A Pandemic Moment by Peter Lindley.

Peter Lindley

Tales of Living in a Covid:19 World From The Elderly To The Young

Coronavirus has affected us all. Whether you are young or old. Black, Asian, Hispanic or White. Despite our varying lives and privileges, despite our public victories or private failings. The word has been very clear. Self-Isolation has become our first line of defense against the coronavirus. Personal hygiene and health is the difference between life and death. And, the elderly are the most at risk. But for a generation that lives in some of our parents and grandparents, ask yourself… how are they coping with the change that the coronavirus has brought about?

GENERATIONS is a monthly “Arts & Culture” series that seeks to share the stories of the older generation. It hopes to bridge a gap between Gen-Z and the generations that have come before us.

A Pandemic Moment by Peter Lindley (78), Brixton

I’ve got a doctor’s appointment. But instead of turning off the street and then walking straight into the practice, I follow the instructions texted to my mobile,
and press the buzzer of a newly installed entry-phone. The door is eventually opened by one of the receptionists, still adjusting her blue facemask. She doesn’t ask me in straight away, but looks me up and down, and then says: ‘How are you feeling in yourself?’

I had never before been asked such a question when visiting the surgery – and respond with a rather uncertain nod of the head. Evidently, it
has become necessary to make clear what has now become the top priority. Only then does the receptionist feel able to hand me a mask to match her own.

     Most of the chairs in reception, normally laid out in rows, have been stacked
up in a corner, leaving just a handful scattered across an otherwise empty floor. Then I realise that the chairs have not been scattered, but carefully spaced out at
a statutory two metres apart, obeying the now universal law of ‘safe distancing.’ I appear to be the only patient in the building, with no other sign of life, other
than faint murmurings from behind the screened-off reception office. 

I end up selecting a chair placed in the dead centre of the room. During
the solitary ten minutes that I sat there, I began to feel as if I was taking part in a scene from the science-fiction classic ‘1984’. I was also becoming more and more claustrophobic within the confines of my mask, so tightfitting that it was causing me to become really short of breath – and so, ironically, duplicating the third and most serious symptom of the dreaded Coronavirus. 

    Eventually, I hear a single bleep over the tannoy that can only be meant for me.
I stagger off down a corridor that today seems infinitely long, and at the other end haul myself up a flight of steps to the next floor, searching for Room 12 – which in my fevered mind is in danger of morphing into the notorious Room 101. I am panting away to such an extent, that the masked nurse who finally encounters me in the doorway of Room 12, starts to back away – perhaps momentarily believing that I am in the last throws of the dreaded COVID-19.

     What I am actually here for, takes no more than a moment to carry out. The injection I am given by the nurse is part of a four monthly top-up that has successfully kept my prostate cancer at bay over the last five years. A life-saving treatment, that normally helps me – to quote the nurse – to feel ‘well in myself’’: that is, until today when any such sense of wellbeing has been swallowed up in a sudden attack of ‘pandemic’. 

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     On my way home, I take a short cut through my local park, which had hit the headlines on the first sunny weekend of the lockdown – before ‘safe distancing’
had come to be properly understood. It took a while for the police to disperse an estimated three thousand Millenials cavorting away in the depths of the park.    However, a couple of weeks later, all that now catches my eye are the solitary
figures of a mother and her young son, silently facing one another alongside an empty pushchair. 

As I pass by them, at a generously safe distance of several metres, I am able to overhear the five-year-old asking his mother: ‘Mum…what game are we going to play?’ After a moment of hesitation, she makes a tentative move towards him. I was never to know whether she was able to
come up with some altogether new idea, or whether her son had simply replied: ‘Mum…we did that yesterday.’ 

A Pandemic Moment by Peter Lindley (78), Brixton

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