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Part 2 - Day 1 to Realisation


From Liberty to Lockdown and back again

Part 2. Day 1 to Realisation

Monday 9 March 2020 and the 10 clubs interested in starting up a new Winter League congregated at the Paddock I&C to talk through the issues facing the first new bowling league to be formed in the town in the last 50 years. On reflection, I have decided that this was Day 1 of my Coronavirus Experience. This was when the curtain was raised on my awareness of what was happening. I didn't appreciate all that was to come but I quickly recognised that survival was, to a great extent, within my own hands. This was not a time to be gung-ho.

The clubs had a number of decisions that had to be taken and hurdles to be overcome before life for the new league could begin. Some of the attendees had thought through the implications of COVID-19 much more than I had done at that stage and the warning bells were beginning to ring as their concerns began to surface. Discussion centred on taking sensible precautions including leaving buckets of water around the green so that bowlers could wash their jacks and woods as they wished. The decision taken was to continue with our plans for two-weeks of trials in March before finalising arrangements for an October start of the League programme.

The concerns of the clubs had been highlighted and over the next few days more stories started to emanate from the Government, the press and other sources about the rapid spreading of the virus and the forecasts of deaths reaching epidemic proportions. This eventually leads to Mike Ralph from Springwood contacting me to indicate their growing concern and after discussion with others within the club they decided to withdraw from the two planned trial days and. Springwood being the single host club at this point. Mike hoped that things would improve over the summer months to allow an October start as planned. Perfectly understandable and proved to be the sensible decision.

All this focus on the potential dangers started to manifest in me and when two friends I was scheduled to have a day out in Newcastle with contacted me with their concerns I readily agreed to postpone our trip. I had a speaking engagement in Morley on Day 6 the following Tuesday which went ahead but with a drastically reduced attendance and with social distancing in place, the first time that I had come across it. That was to be my last such engagement for some while as to date all the 62 bookings I had accepted for 2020 have obviously been cancelled so Kirkwood Hospice are a few thousands of pounds worse off as a result.

Thursday 19 March was to be the last day out of the house I was going to have for 14 weeks, I went for a haircut. It didn't seem such a milestone at that time but has stuck in the memory. How can such a menial undertaking stick in the mind? This is getting serious.

Time for the Jacklin household to think about the implications for us. I am 72 years old and in the COVID world I am classed as 'vulnerable'. My wife, Mary, isn't over 70 (by a long way she reminds me) and by definition isn't vulnerable although I know better. To abide by the Government guidelines we are not allowed to see our grandchildren. However, if I am not living at home Mary will be allowed to see them as she provides a child-minding service for the youngest one two-days a week. We decide that the safest way forward, for me and for her, is if I go into self-isolation.

We have a static caravan at a Scarborough site and we decide that this should be my home for the coming weeks. Our planning extended to weekly meetings mid-way between Scarborough and Huddersfield where meals and shopping would pass between us and dirty washing would pass the other way. Who says romance is dead?

We are used to being apart as I worked for 10 years in London whilst living in Huddersfield so Mary was well used to being on her own although that had usually been Monday to Friday this was a totally different scenario. That was where our planning had taken us but then two days later, and before we put our plan into action, the Government comes forward with a much more stringent set of guidelines which will close all holiday homes including caravan sites. Bang goes that idea and so we move into the lockdown phase.

I know that my staying at home is going to stop my wife seeing the grandchildren at all which will be a big blow for her. Sometimes life just doesn't seem fair, does it? If life was fair then Elvis would still be alive and all his impersonators would be dead!

Coming tomorrow: Part 3 - Lockdown & Zoom

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