Lockdown life – the everyday impact on Bedford: Part one

The Light Family
The Light family

Bedfordians have been sharing their experiences of the coronavirus ‘lockdown’. Giving emotional but also heart-warming insights into their experiences as we face the coronavirus pandemic together.

Sharing your experiences, and how coronavirus is affecting you, will help others and also create a social record of how coronavirus is affecting us all.

If you have a coronavirus story you’d like to share with fellow Bedfordians, you can find out how to take part at ‘Tell us your coronavirus ‘lockdown’ experience‘.

Please keep my family safe

I am a 77 year old living in central Bedford. I have been avoiding people for weeks now as I am very vulnerable.

I am so grateful to Sainsbury’s for the offer of a delivery of groceries as my usual Tesco one was not available. Bless them.

My prayer is please keep my family safe, it doesn’t matter about me. I just hope it’s quick if I have to go!

It has surprised me how long it has taken for some to get the message to avoid social groups.

Very proud of my grand daughter going back to the health service to help. So glad I have my iPad, tv, and a phone and I really appreciate the concern of friends checking on me plus I try to keep check on my friends.

Rang my sister to say “I love you” plus my old school friends. Feeling grateful for all the good things in my life.

by Shirley McCaffrey, Central Bedford

It has been challenging, yet somehow rewarding

We are the Light family. I am Emma, Stepmother to two wonderful boys, William (11) and Oliver (8).

I am currently 24 Weeks pregnant so have had to work from home for the last two weeks.

I live with my husband, Ross, in the Riverfield Estate, Bedford. We usually see our boys only on weekends.

Since the announcement of Lockdown, Ross has had to work from home also and we have set up our workstations opposite each other on the dining room table.

On Monday evening we discussed arrangements with their Mother, who is a keyworker, and made the very difficult decision to temporarily move the boys in with us whilst she does a fantastic job helping out the British public and essentially putting herself at risk.

The boys are typical children with a love of Xbox, Lego and Youtube. Our youngest, Oliver, has always wanted to ‘Be a Youtuber’ and very often refers to his aspirations of a future career.

We felt this was the perfect time to indulge in the boys’ passions and set up our very own Youtube Channel.

This has given us the opportunity to voice our opinions and show our experiences of the Lockdown from the boys’ point of view.

We have had moments of boredom, laughter and difficult situations to navigate where we are all trying work as well as giving the boys the attention they need for home schooling.

It has been challenging, yet somehow rewarding, for all of us. We are very lucky really as we all seem to get on (at the moment) but only will time will tell how this will evolve.

If anything, I feel it has brought us all closer together. It is heart breaking that they are unable to see their mother and her boyfriend, Mike, who is equally as devoted to the kids as we are. But, we are making sure they ring and facetime every day whenever possible.

By Emma Light, Riverfield Drive, Bedford

I cannot afford to be sick

I am living with someone who is being shielded due to high blood pressure, I am collecting prescriptions and essential food items for my parents in law aged 80 and 81, I am walking my daughter’s autism assistance dog.

I cannot afford to be sick, I cannot go, with all my neighbours to the local park, it is so busy, the Embankment is full of elderly people, teenagers, families with kids.

I am not by any means against this, I believe we should all have the right to fresh air and open spaces but I don’t understand the no driving rule.

I am currently driving to the Ampthill or Southill areas and walking my dog in open countryside with very few, perhaps passing one other walker as opposed to 20/30 people I will pass in the park. And yet this is prohibited!

Yesterday the ‘Clap our NHS’ group gatherings shattered all rules but is encouraged.

I really don’t understand the reasoning.

I am actually enjoying the solace of no obligation to go out, the calm of my life but I am going to have to leave my social media platforms where keyboard warriors are berating people who don’t conform to their opinion. Where people, often stupid, repost scams and rules that they believe to be right. Where vulnerable people will succumb to fear.

The U.K. is a very spiteful selfish place and Facebook is the platform for social shaming gone mad.

By Deb Ann Holmes, Bedford

It was the best birthday ever

I wanted to share the story of my daughter’s birthday. Originally it was planned that Flo would have a birthday party at an Escape Room, but once the lockdown hit all her plans were thrown out of the window.

We suspended homeschooling for the day (authorised absence granted by head teacher via Twitter) and my wife Alice created a VIP shopping and Pampering trip.

A rail of new clothes was set up with a glass of fizz and a choice of (home) pampering treatments. She loved it!

Flo Gallagher
Flo Gallagher

This was followed by a collection of video messages from all the children that would have attended the party and then a game of bingo.

Bingo was done via FaceTime with her friends (Teddy & George), i just had to email through the bingo card so they could join in.

Of course there was cake which was a contact less drop off by Little Taste of Heaven and will keep the four members of the household well fed for a couple of days!

Lastly as part of her daily exercise Flo’s best friend walked past the window and sang happy birthday.

Flo said it was the best birthday ever and is sure to never forget her Corona Birthday!

By Steve Gallagher, Bedford

Our main worry so far has been getting groceries

My wife and I are in our 70s, a group that seems to be taking the government’s warnings seriously. We are astonished and angry that so many people don’t seem to, as we believe that this disease can be defeated, but only if we all pull together.

Our main worry so far has been getting groceries online, so as to minimise personal contact. Several days of waiting in website queues, only to find no slots at the end of the wait and time after time being put in another two-hour queue with the same outcome, is taking its toll.

The supermarkets’ telephone helplines don’t answer and might as well not be there. Nor do they respond to emails. I’m sure there are good reasons, but it is annoying that they don’t say on their websites that they are currently incommunicado.

At two o’clock this morning I did manage to find a click-and-collect slot in three weeks’ time and ordered almost everything we need.

I went to bed deeply relieved, only to find this morning that much of the order has been cancelled as they don’t have stocks at the moment.

What I need to know is this: are these items lost for ever, or if they have them three weeks from now will they be reinstated? Do I have to look for them elsewhere, or will that result in double quantities? There is no way to find out, so we just have to wait.

Meanwhile the sun shines. The garden has benefitted, seeds have been sown for the summer vegetable harvest and we’ve managed to get out for some enjoyable and much-needed exercise.

Walking along main roads has minimised the number of people we have to avoid and there is so little traffic that it is unexpectedly pleasant.

It’s also been interesting in a nosey sort of way as we’ve stopped and looked at houses and gardens we’ve never noticed before. (In these troubled times you snatch at what pleasures you can find.)

Our big mistake was to cycle along the Willington Cycleway. It seemed odd not to have a destination for a cuppa and sit-down, so I suppose we’ll have to get used to returning to the ways of our youth, when we hardly went out without a sandwich and a flask and sat on public benches.

Sartre said that hell is other people, and hell was on the cycleway in abundance. No problem with that – people have to go somewhere – but their manners!

Loose dogs running at bikes and children, walkers blocking the road so that we couldn’t keep our distance, young cyclists whizzing along at enviable speeds that were dangerous among the crowds.

Is this lack of consideration for others a generational thing? When we were children our parents always taught us to think of others – to be quiet and polite and to take our litter home. Many parents still do this: our own grandchildren are models of good behaviour in public, but, alas, many don’t.

Mind you, I’m not entirely certain I followed the parental rules when I was on the loose as a teenager.

We miss our family and friends, visiting them and entertaining. WhatsApp groups have sprung up and yesterday we had the first six-way video call on Zoom with far-flung family members.

That was a real treat and we hope for more. We’ve been locked down for only a week with 12 more to come on present estimates. Luckily the number of jokes coming into my inbox has skyrocketed, but I’m not sure even that will keep us sane for a further three months.

One or two useful jobs have got done in and around the house and I find time somehow slowing down, not that my life in retirement is exactly hectic.

Take today, for example. I needed a piece of string of a particular sort. The string-bag, I found, offered exactly what I wanted but it had been saved with knots in it (very little gets thrown away in this house).

That prompted a sit-down in the sun as I spent half an hour absorbed in the task of unravelling, followed by a disciplined forming of hanks and, eventually, getting on to the job I had been trying to do that required the string in the first place.

Whenever I go for string in future I shall find it instantly accessible and remember today and the fact that such a tiny task gave me satisfaction out of all proportion to its triviality.

I shudder to think that if I’m not careful I could find myself going the same way as Proust. Inevitably, given the headlines, I’ve found myself considering the possibility of an untimely death.

I’ve had a good innings and been very lucky in all the important things in life, so I can’t complain too loudly if the next time the doorbell rings I find it’s the Grim Reaper come to call, though before he cuts me down I hope he disinfects the bell-push.

It would be a shame, though, as I long to be around to see how my grandchildren develop, to improve at my sports and activities and spend as long as I can with my lovely wife.

That’s why I’m annoyed at the thoughtless ones who don’t bother with social distancing and whose hands remain unwashed – one of them could thoughtlessly bring about my demise.

If it happens and in the afterlife I can find out who it was I shall haunt them unmercifully for the rest of their days. Meanwhile, there’s a garden to be tended. And a bag of string to put away.

By anonymous

Articles edited for typos and grammar only. If you have a coronavirus story you’d like to share with fellow Bedfordians, you can find out how to take part at ‘Tell us your coronavirus ‘lockdown’ experience‘.

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