Why this invitation set me worrying

  • How my reaction to a coveted invitation surprised me
  • Will you be taking the train again?
  • A tale from WWI that might have a modern resonance

Tomorrow I am taking a very big step, and I admit to being a little worried.

A friend has invited me to join him at The Open golf competition in Sandwich, Kent for the day.

This represents my first outing of any significance for over a year.

And I am not sure whether to be delighted or terrified!

The day should involve a very early train from Bristol to London, then a journey on the Underground to a final train out to the course.

Under normal circumstances I would be really looking forward to it. A day out, a nice relaxing train ride, meeting with friends, a few glasses of wine, good food and the spectacle of some of the world’s best golfers tackling the elements and the course.

But these aren’t normal times are they?

Leaving aside the whole debate about how serious COVID is (believe me my inbox has been full of polarised views on that one!) my concern is about how I am going to deal with being out out!

For the last eighteen months I have only seen very close family and friends… I haven’t been to the pub (apart from Fathers Day) or ventured out with Lara for a meal.

Now I am faced with the prospect of getting mixed up with the great and good of the general public.

The good thing about the golf is that it is definitely an outdoor activity, and with limited numbers of spectators I am sure that all will be well in Sandwich… but it is the getting there that is the worry.

Planes, trains and automobiles

So, I will be taking the car and spending an abstemious day whilst I am there.

This sort of spoils the fun, but I know that I won’t be comfortable if I head out on public transport.

And really what does this mean for the future?

Just think about how easy we used to travel. I thought nothing of jumping on the bus, train or airplane to travel around.

Despite the fact that I was sharing my airspace with people who had a multitude of diseases and infestations, I was happily grabbing onto hand rails, laughing when someone got caught out by an unexpected sneeze and sharing newspapers with fellow travellers.

I never even thought about it.

But this experience has forced me to do so, and that frustrates me to a great extent.

The family holiday to Portugal is delayed for yet another year, we’re not planning any time away instead and there are no family get togethers on the horizon.

That is not normal for us.

It makes me wonder when this will change… if at all?

Will the legacy of this last year and a half be a mental scar about travel and companionship?

This topic really began to nag at me.

I needed to chat with my Mum, for a very good reason.

1918-1920: The Spanish Flu

During World War One a deadly strain of the influenza virus caused huge numbers of deaths amongst populations around the world.

It was believed to have originated in the USA but news of the pandemic was suppressed by governments who didn’t want to spread panic, however, Spain was neutral in the war and so the effect of the virus there was made public creating the impression that it was only a problem for them.

Hence it became known as the Spanish Flu.

My Nan, Mum’s Mum, lived through this and was within the age group most at risk (20-40, the working age) and her stories of the time are remembered in the family.

Mum tells how Nan was on her own as Grandad was away with the army, and whilst sheltered in a small village outside Cardiff she was worried about how the disease would affect her and her children.

The legacy of this was that she would never travel to any family function outside of her village even in her later life, and the furthest she travelled for a holiday was to a caravan on the Pembroke Coast.

She also viewed any new face with suspicion, even when I first introduced her to Lara she would only say hello from the other side of the kitchen hatch. Mum says that Dad was always kept at a distance too.

I wanted to know from Mum how this influenced her own view of the world and the social interactions in it.

Interestingly she said that the recent events had brought all of her Mum’s fears back to life again, and she admitted that she had spent many nights worrying about the family.

Something that I was completely unaware of.

Is this what we can expect in years to come for the fabric of our social world – and maybe we will see other people who will react like my Nan did.

None of this had occurred to me until I got the invitation last week.

This has given me the resolve that I need to shake some of my fears off and begin to re-engage with how my life had been.

I take really good health precautions and armour myself with the best natural means, and I don’t think it is a bad idea to keep up my hand washing routines and even mask wearing in some circumstances.

Hearing news about the relaxation of the laws around social distancing and other COVID precautions is obviously great, but I can’t help thinking that we will all act differently as a result of what we have been through.

I am looking forward to meeting up with my chums tomorrow, and even enjoying a glass of fruit juice with them, no doubt we will have a properly splendid few hours together. For me this represents the first stage in my own desire to open my life back up again.

Each of us is going to take different approaches to changing what we do and the speed with which we head back to pre-COVID life and that needs to be supported by all of us.

So, dear readers, we need to be kind to everyone we interact with because folk need the chance to reacclimatise in their own way.

Let’s start to enjoy our time once again… carefully!