Hastings & St. Leonards on-line community newspaper

Sunday 12 April was Easter Sunday and the day Cummings drove to Barnard Castle. Monday 11 May, Johnson announced a new road plan which clearly he understood even less about than the rest of us. On Wed 20 May, whilst pizza and wine were being chuffed in a back garden in Downing Street by 30 people, I hugged a friend on the beach. She had just recovered from a heart operation. We were both living alone.

What were you doing during Party-Gate?

The national news seems to be nothing more than an endless reveal of the different ways that the people in charge of our country were breaking the rules they had set for us to follow. During the first lockdown, HOT’s Erica Smith kept a diary on a roll of toilet paper. She decided to un-furl the sheets to see what she was doing whilst members of our government and civil service were partying en-masse in the Downing Street back garden.

Just before lockdown, I started a diary on a toilet roll. It seemed an appropriate medium to use since loo paper had suddenly become a thing of a value rather than a low-budget necessity. Like everyone else, I was in shock when we went in to lockdown. Like a lot of people, I was isolating totally on my own. I found it incredibly hard. When I unrolled the loo paper diary, the full feeling of misery and isolation came back to me. During that time, I broke the ‘rules’ a few times. Very minor and cautious rule-breaking. I think I’d have died of loneliness if I hadn’t had these tiny glimpses of connection with other human beings.

If I had known how liberally the leaders of our nation were flouting their own recommendations, I would have been a lot more reckless – along with millions of other people who were living alone. If that had happened, the NHS would have been put under supreme stress from the number of Covid cases. That is why our leaders should lead by example, not act like arrogant idiots who are beyond criticism and contagion.

Friday 27 March was the very first Friday of lockdown. In Hastings, the enterprising Bev Francis and Sister Susie launched Frock Up Friday which kept me and many others going through the months of lockdown.

It was also the day that Boris Johnson contracted Covid-19 and Dominic Cummings took a sneaky drive up to the North East from London, with his wife and child.

Cummings broke the lockdown rules less than a week after we had gone in to lockdown. Read more here.

Sunday 12 April was Easter Sunday.
That day the news was that there had been 1000 deaths the day before, and over 10,000 deaths in the UK from Covid-19 since the start of the pandemic.

It was also reported that 68% of NHS workers who had died from Covid-19 had black, asian or minority ethnic heritage.

This was the day that Cummings drove to Barnard Castle ‘to test his eyes’ and then drove back to London. I had Easter alone.

Thursday 16 April – three weeks in to lockdown and the highlight of my day is that I’m averaging just over a loo roll a week. Meanwhile, Government advisers and civil servants drank and danced in No 10’s basement and gardens. Apparently ‘Wine-time Fridays’ was scheduled in the weekly e-calendar of Downing Street aides during the pandemic – Johnson encouraged staff to ‘let off steam’ and attended a ‘handful of the gatherings’ himself. The next day was Prince Philip’s funeral and the Queen sat alone in the front row of St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle.

Saturday 9 May – I did a bad thing. With my car share partner (both living separately, alone)… we drove to Dungeness to charge the battery up. Neither of us had used the car for weeks. Windows down and masks on like bandits. There was nowhere to stop. We saw lots of police near Dungeness – we wondered if some refugees had arrived.

We had a socially distanced picnic on a boring bit of beach near Hythe and sneaked in a walk at Winchelsea Beach on the way home. No wine was consumed.

Monday 11 May

Johnson announces a new road map. No-one seems to understand it – and judging by his behaviour – he understood it least of all.

People are still expected to work from home unless they are key workers. Social distancing and mask-wearing in public is encouraged at all times. No further changes intended until 1 June when a phased return to schools for primary children and non-essential retail businesses to re-open. Workplaces to install Covid secure measures.

Friday 15 May

I have my first Covid test because I’m part of the ZOE study. I drive to the football ground at Brighton. It’s a beautiful day.

I do something else wrong… on the way home I stop off to visit a friend in Eastbourne. We are very careful about social distancing.

You can read about taking the test in Hastings Online Times by following this link:

Saturday 16 May

Negative Covid test result.

I really am getting reckless – or just desperately lonely. A friend comes round to help me with some DIY. I cook a meal for both of us. It is the first time I have cooked a meal to share with anyone for months. We are very careful about social distancing He tells me about the Dutch regulations which allow people who are isolating alone to ‘buddy-up’ and have physical relationships. It sounds sensible but I’m not tempted.

Wednesday 20 May
This was the first day for Downing Street garden parties that was revealed (although more and more are being announced). I did something bad again… (I’m not leaving out any of my ‘sins’). I hugged a friend on the beach. We both live alone. She had just recovered from a heart operation. She was the first person I had touched since before lockdown began. I also did the low-tide walk to Fairlight with 2 friends. I’ve never seen so many people walking there. Two Covid cases in the local care home where my partner’s co-parent works. It’s getting closer.

Saturday 23 May
News of Barnard Castle-gate is revealed. I, and the rest of the nation are horrified. My 89 year-old mum who has been on her own since a cheeky pre-lockdown visit from my brother on Mother’s Day is surprisingly supportive of Dominic Cummings… ill child, maybe mental health issues or challenging family relationships going on do make it seem like a good idea to re-locate up to the grandparents etc. etc.

I can understand where she’s coming from, but it goes back to the reality that the people in charge should be setting an example… if everyone had driven across the country to relocate, then the virus would have spread much faster, plus road traffic accidents from unnecessary journeys would have put extra strain on the NHS.

And, of course, most people did not have the option to re-locate. Even when they were living in tiny flats with no gardens. Dominic Cummings – just because you are privileged does not mean you are free to flout the rules that your Party devised for the safety of the nation. No-one is entitled to do that. Not even the Prime Minister … or am I being naive?

Tuesday 26 May
I stuck a Dominic Cummings mask in the window of the Fiat Panda and drove 40 miles to the Ashdown Forest for lunch outside and a walk with my cousins. I bet I wasn’t the only one who gave up ‘being good’. I bet a lot of people did a lot worse things than I did. I bet a lot of people will be doing a lot more partying now. Just as well this wasn’t leaked before Christmas.

Conclusion: If you want your electorate to take your very sensible pandemic regulations seriously, then maybe try a different policy than “One rule for you, one rule for me”.


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Posted 20:29 Sunday, Jan 16, 2022 In: Covid-19

Also in: Covid-19

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