Unlocking London

Today, Monday, April 12, was a big one for removing quite a few of the restrictions we’ve all been under since Christmas. Domestic travel and holiday lets are now allowed, so some of my friends and neighbours have packed up their cars and gone off to various English country- or seaside locales for the remainder of the school holidays.

Retail shops and gyms could reopen, salons and barber shops could welcome back the desperate and ungroomed (that would be a good name for a soap opera, no?), and restaurants and pubs could once again serve diners and drinkers, as long as they were outdoors. People have been very excited for this day, and are hungry for a taste of the former freedoms and simple pleasures we once took for granted.

So it seemed like a particularly cruel joke when we woke up to this:

I mean, really. I’ve heard of April showers but this is ridiculous. Because this wasn’t already the Longest Winter Ever. It’s a full week after Easter Monday and my kid actually wore a Christmas jumper today.

Fortunately for the pub landlords and their thirsty clientele, the snow didn’t last too terribly long, and the weather did improve throughout the day, the London skies gracing us with a few oh-so-British “sunny spells.”

As I made my way up and down Northcote Road this morning, running beautifully banal errands (such as returning some too-big running socks I got for Christmas but have not been able to return because the shop’s been closed ever since), I took in the changes. There was a noticeable charge and energy in the air. A pulse once again beating.

The dining and drinking establishments were setting out their tables and chairs on the pavement. The hair and nail salons had masked ladies in every chair. The TK Maxx looked like a Black Friday sale/super-spreader event. The queues for the barber shops were longer than the shaggy mullets of the men patiently waiting for their turn to be shorn.

My own husband was proper chuffed to be rid of his excess hair today. We can see his ears again, so he has no excuse for not hearing me.

Before and after

And another walk down the road this evening showed me many smiling people out at all the restaurants and bars, happy to be meeting up with friends for drinks again, or maybe just happy to take their kids out for pizza for a change. And for another many people, probably happy to be working again. Cheers to all of that.

I hope that this is and was truly the last of the lockdowns, and that we continue to move forward out of this, not backward, like some our European neighbours have done lately.

We still don’t know when we will be able to receive a vaccine. The UK has made good progress with vaccinations, yes, but is still on the 50-and-up age group. All we can do is try to be patient and wait for our GP to contact us to say we’re now eligible to book an appointment. Keep calm and carry on masking up. And pray that Spring hurry up and kick Old Man Winter all the way to December.

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