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Part 1 - In the beginning

Updated: Jan 1, 2021


From Liberty to Lockdown and back again

This posting started out as a review of 2020 but quickly turned in to a record of how coronavirus took over every aspect of our lives during this terrible year of uncertainty and anxiety. I don't normally like writing about myself but with the drastically reduced interaction with others, it inevitably became a reflection of how I saw life during the lockdowns amid the worrying reports of illness and fatalities.

If you are reading this then you continue to survive the Coronavirus pandemic, congratulations, many haven’t. It really has been a life-changing experience which the majority of we veterans have never seen the like of before. I am of an age (73) that means I have never experienced a world war and I fully expected to expire from this world without going through any life-threatening scenario. The pandemic changed my thinking on that. This is a 'blog' apparently, or so I am advised, so be it, call it what you like but to me it is a record of what happened and how I felt during the year of 2020 and probably beyond.

This is a personal record of what my life became from the initial realisation of the seriousness of the situation to the lockdown steps required to counter the threat and hopefully a return to normality in the very near future which according to Boris could be any time but probably won't now be by Easter. I am probably no different to the majority of the readers and I may not be the only one putting it down on paper but I am the only one sharing it with you today - sorry. Stop reading now if you are offended or bored or just fed up with the pandemic stories. This blog has a bowling slant to it in an attempt to make it more relevant to you the reader but I suspect many of my other feelings were replicated by many of you as well.

This blog is also an opportunity for me to have a good old moan as well of course. There is nothing men of our age enjoy more than a good verbal tirade over a minor cause. I've been warned about becoming a grumpy old man which I have been warned would result in me being left alone to spiral into dementia and end up shouting at people in the post office. I was quite looking forward to the last one I have to admit. Since then they've got rid of most of the post offices so I've got grounds to moan at those decisions which have deprived me of such grumpy opportunities. However back to the blog.

The beginning feels like a good place to start but when was the beginning, when was Day 1? Apparently the signs had been there for some while, maybe it was just me that hadn’t seen them, maybe I read the wrong daily newspaper. The records indicate that the COVID-19 outbreak originated in Wuhan in China in December 2019 at a seafood and poultry market. News and the virus travel fast and in January we had the first UK confirmed cases when two Chinese nationals staying at a York hotel are tested positive. Then in February, the major airports start screening people arriving from Wuhan. The Government decided not to follow Italy and China who imposed restrictions on liberty and movement but advised a range of voluntary restrictions such as ‘social distancing’ and 'self-isolation'. How familiar these terms were to become. I never thought that the phrase 'I wouldn't touch him with a 6-foot barge pole' would become government policy!

I was still the League Secretary for the Veteran's League at this time and we were all primed and ready to start celebrating the League's Golden Jubilee Anniversary season. A record 96 teams were signed up, all the fixtures had been circulated, Bowlsnet was all set-up and the Fantasy League entries were rolling in. The new website had gone live and everything in the garden looked rosy.

A celebration lunch to commemorate the Golden Jubilee was held in tandem with the AGM at Meltham when Peter Armitage topped the speaker bill with a humorous account of his bowling experiences which was well-received by all. A photo record of that event has now been loaded up to the website with 41 photographs of those attending now online here.

The HDVBA Management Committee held a scheduled monthly meeting on Monday 9 March and reflected on the success of the Launch of the Golden Jubilee season at Meltham in February where general reaction had been very positive and we looked forward to a memorable season to celebrate our 50th Anniversary. How little did we know at this stage? The minutes of that meeting include this five-line mention of Coronavirus.

9.1 Coronavirus was discussed as it was felt that the Association should offer advice to the League despite not having any guidance from the British and Yorkshire associations. Jeff Jacklin was to prepare advice based on the Government guidance, circulate to members for comment and approval and then post on the website and email to club reps.

This guidance amounted to a side of A4 and covered the basics pinched from the Help the Aged website and supplemented by commonsense (not on any website) and covered washing your hands; catching coughs and sneezes with a handkerchief; try to avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth; wipe the jack at each end and ‘don’t be offended if your opponent declines to shake hands at the start and end of a match’. It didn't really reflect the seriousness of the threat, was totally inadequate, like lining up Dad's Army to counter the Luftwaffe but it was a start and more than many organisations were doing.

Immediately after the Management Committee gathering, there was a meeting of teams interested in forming a new Winter league and it was at this meeting that I first started to realise the seriousness of the threat and an early insight of what life was to become. For me, that meeting on 9 March 2020 was the light-bulb moment that made it Day 1 in my Coronavirus Experience. Attendees were raising concerns about how we could convince bowlers that it was safe to bowl when we didn't really know if that was true or not. More on that meeting in tomorrow's blog.

Humour has always been part of the Brit's armoury to combat any enemy and CONVID-19 got the same treatment. Whilst remembering that the pandemic is a very serious subject which is making a lot of people very ill it is also important to retain some perspective and support those involved at all levels. Having worked in the NHS for 30 years I am well aware of hospital humour and how far you can go without upsetting anyone. Laughter is often a means of dealing with despair for many so I have carefully selected some jokes and cartoons to amuse and will include these in each posting. The first of these is below.

Coming tomorrow: Day 1 and Realisation

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