These foolish things remind me of you...
The ties that bound us are still around us
There’s no escape that I can see
And still those little things remain
That bring me happiness or pain.
There is reason to celebrate. Shops are re-opening, bars and restaurants are accepting bookings, and we are permitted to meet with a few of our friends and family.
So why do I not share the nation’s apparent delight that normality is resuming? And expectation that the freedoms we once enjoyed will be restored?
I take a daily walk through the streets of Edinburgh, the city I love and sense its spirit and soul reshaped.
Months of living in limbo between news announcements that have instilled an impression of fear in the population has dulled the joy and spontaneity of life, and I now contemplate that even the simplest of pleasures is marred by the innumerable guidelines that have been imposed on us to “stay safe”.
I glance at the groups of diners huddled under the make-shift awnings now commonplace outside all the bars and restaurants that can accommodate them. Prior booking is now an almost essential requirement for a meal or drinks in town. Add to that the 2-hour maximum stay, restricted numbers, the obligatory mask whilst standing up, and no mixing with other tables if you happen to notice a friend across the room makes the prospect of entertaining at home a much more enjoyable experience.
The large heavy door to my favourite bar is locked shut… a place of countless unions, celebrations, and last-minute plans to meet a friend for a can’t-wait-to-tell-you conversation sharing a bottle of wine, now displays a sign marking the venue “covid safe”.
I pass the charming coffee cart in the park where I used to buy my morning latte and had built up several years of 5-minute conversations with the owner which charted the daily ups and downs of our lives; the new owner considers it acceptable to bark orders from behind the plastic screen to cover my face before I order and will not accept the coins from my young niece excited to pay for her drink.
I listen to a song on my playlist from my teenage years and I am transported back to the carefree nights spent dancing into the early hours in clubs filled to over-capacity, and think wistfully of all the fun and life experiences teenagers today do not know they are missing.
The school at the end of my road has ended for the day and groups of children are making their way through the gates, their faces are covered and offer little indication of how they are feeling.
I realise in that moment what I am missing… laughter… the sound of happiness.