New life in the high street


journal covid-19 london

We’re coming back to the world in floods of normalcy at the moment. One of my best friends was back in town on Thursday, and he came over for dinner and a drink. He was able to see our new home, I was able to cook for him, we were able to sit in our living room together and chat. We kept up chatting until just before midnight. We were all just so thankful to be able to have the kind of conversations you have with your friends in person when you’re relaxed. Then on Saturday morning I walked down our new high street as it opened up for the first time since we’ve lived here. Saturday was the day the majority of the businesses in the country were given to open up again. It’s been so long that bustling commerce, restaurants, markets — they all feel like a new idea. It’s like they’re inventing something new: the sit-in café, the come-in-and-look-around gardening supplier. I was practically bouncing down the road by the time I’d picked up all my supplies. I took pictures of the fronts of shops with their wares spilling out on the pavements, flowering all at once.

Around lunchtime on Saturday some more friends arrived to stay the weekend. We’re still not hugging. We headed down the high street to an open air street market to some lunch and baked treats. We spent hours and hours cooking, eating, drinking, talking, and playing video games at home. It felt like a holiday, like our new home was a well appointed holiday cottage that we’d holed up in with our friends. I guess in time we’ll get used to this new neighbourhood in its opened up form, carve out our real routines.

Tonight I’m seeing another friend for the first time in months, probably riding around on the bike with him to arrive eventually at a pub (new me meets old me). Tomorrow night, more badly missed friends and probably another pub. Social life has come rushing back all at once. To deal with the new influx of food and drink that company brings, I pushed myself out for a run this morning. There’s a half marathon in Oxford still set for October and it’s beginning to gnash it’s teeth at me. This morning though, the world felt new.