And not our Salad Days as the song goes. And now, more importantly ‘Deconfinement’ that is unlock the ‘lockdown’ as it is referred to in the UK.
Prior to 2020 taking quite an unsavoury turn, the Brits had been preoccupied with arguing about Brexit for the best part of 3 years. Many a cull was made on facebook. Friends and family members deleted in utter contempt. Not just online. In real life as well. Families fell out in spectacular fashion. Only at the point of it being a more or less done deal, a stomping Boris majority, some decided to let it be. A resentful let it be, but a let it be nevertheless. This is not to be confused with acceptance.
And you did not escape it moving to a European member state either. No sorry. If anything, it just intensified. The whole Brexit arguments on various living in France facebook groups were alive and raging. Living here in Normandy you have to stealthily work out which way a person voted, with regard to Brexit and proceed with caution.
You find out pretty early on if you are chatting to a Brexiteer or a Remoaner. The Brexiteers that live here (and there are many) that so wanted to come out of the European Union and then, without a shred of irony, promptly moved to France for a better European way of life. Or even the ones that live here but still wanted the hassle of having to fill in Carte De Sejour paperwork as, you know, why wouldn’t you?!
Indeed, I have been assessed in quite the same manner. I would be classed as a Remoaner, a liberal leftie, communist, snow flake plus any more you can think of. Although I have always accepted it post 2017. I had about a week in 2016 where I couldn’t talk about it and then I left the country! If you want to read more about Brexit in Normandy, you can read it here.
The Deconfinement is very similar to Brexit in many regards as was the Confinement. No one was sitting on the fence anytime soon with regard how you conduct yourself during a pandemic. The whole let’s judge everyone reared it’s ugly head again, although I’m not ever sure it had gone away.
Does anybody remember the days when people said what they wanted to say behind closed doors? A bit like when we never took a picture of what we were about to eat in a restaurant (guilty as charged ma lord). Remember the days when you’d say “I’d like to be a fly on the wall in that house” roughly translated as I bet they let their bigoted views run riot at home. People had to rein in their prejudices didn’t they? Now it is just full time open season.
And everyone is offended about everything and anything. It’s a never ending cycle of arguments. We are all one big contradiction. No one is getting out of here hypocrite free.
People were sharing videos of people being punched for not wearing a mask. And it wasn’t to say, oh that’s a bit nasty or shocking, it was in support of the person punching said person to the ground!
On one ‘expat’ living in France group a car had been spray painted with “covid19”. The crime? The number plate showed that this car hailed from a much further afield department in France. Therefore, the assumption was, that they had not respected the confinement. It could well have been someone that lived there but details do not matter.
So just like a throw back to the 1940s, someone had decided to spray paint the persons car. Not only that, I saw people (Brits mind – BTW please do let me know how you are all getting along in your village, after reporting your neighbours for going out longer than an hour) on line bemoaning the fact that a young lad was out on his motocross bike sans helmet. Quelle Horreur! Yarp, he was going up and down a deserted chemin. Report him to the police they all cried. I mean really? You do realise you have to live amongst these communities afterwards. And what was he doing that was so bad? A deserted track in Normandy, riding his bike to let off a bit of steam. Wow. String him up why don’t you.
Deconfinement has been very similar to Brexit, in that it provokes very strong reactions from people. I think there is a real fear amongst people of this virus. Not only that people have become, in a relatively short period of time, institutionalised to some degree.
Myself included. I got used to only going out so far, signing a piece of paper for a dog walk, recycling and as soon as the bell went to be ‘deconfined’ I couldn’t think of anywhere I wanted to go. Yes, I did a merry dance at not having to fill a form every time and whoop to the freedom and all. But after that initial whoop, I was a bit like mmm what now? You still couldn’t have a cup of coffee, alcoholic drink or have lunch and a natter in a bar or restaurant. The swimming pools, bowling nor cinemas were yet open so the “we’re free” came with about as much fanfare as a damp squid.
It was like everyone was a potential terrorist. We had all become a potential danger to others. In particular, children! No one ever really talks about them do they? There was loads on what to do to keep sane, busy etc but how this has impacted on younger children no one can really say? For instance, I went into the supermarket with 2 of my children and Miss Normandy remarks, whilst putting on her mask, “well we are the super carriers aren’t we!”.
She meant no harm by it and was joking but I could tell my youngest felt awkward about it. He gives people a very wide birth. He is very aware that he could give someone the virus even though, as far as I can tell, he does not have it. He was also reluctant to come out on the first day of release. Just a short drive to where his school was. He, himself, although loathe to admit it had become slightly scared of this virus. And that’s the thing isn’t it? It’s amazing how quickly people have become very scared and institutionalised. Edit – he is much more relaxed now.
It is also a minefield, like Brexit, to work out who you can and can’t ask around. Even though we are now allowed to see people, travel anywhere and go to shops etc – a lot of people remain unhappy about this. The figures have gone down and it seems relatively sensible to allow these measure and yet if you were to say you wanted to travel further afield or have a people around some would not be happy about this. They may deem you to be irresponsible, stupid and any other Brexiteer/Remoaner connotations.
The likelihood of dying from this as a woman, smoker and child are slim. My own father who had underlying health conditions had the virus. He is 72 this year and spent 9 days in hospital and survived. It does seem, somewhat unfair, to keep the vast majority of the population living a restrictive life when the vast majority will not be ending up in A&E. And yes, I can hear the “but you could give it someone else” yes I could but I might not.
The real scandal of all of this was the old folks in the nursing homes. Which at the last count (a good while back) accounted for 50% of the deaths. Whilst businesses where shut down, schools etc no one thought that this was the group of people that needed protecting the most. They were the ones that needed to have the restrictions imposed sooner, rather than, well into March.
Take the wearing of masks. It’s hit and miss. I wear mine in the supermarket but sometimes I forget and more recently I don’t wear it. About 50% in there are wearing them even some staff aren’t wearing them. Am I internally raging about it? NO! But am sure many are about the selfishness of our actions.
We went to the beach a few weeks ago and it was wonderful to see people enjoying themselves. Not a mask was to be seen. People were sunbathing and swimming. Also string these folks up!
The kids have also gone back to school (well two of mine) only 2 days a week but some sense of normality is returning. Albeit my daughter has to wear a mask at break times and have her temperature taken after each lesson. Edit – Macron has announced that from 22 June – all children will be returning, cinemas, swimming pools etc will be open. However, the school is continuing with the 2 days a week policy. My son has managed to avoid going back to lycee until September.
In any event, it appears that all bets are off. Riots are now a thing. The media have conveniently forgotten about covid, the latest death toll and now everyone is out having a riot. People are angry and it’s not going away anytime soon.
So this unique time in our lives is drawing to a close. Life is beginning to get back to some semblance of normality. Whatever that is? I’m not so sure anymore. I will miss the confinement and what it did for me on a personal level (another post for another day). I don’t think I opened my diary for 5 weeks and it was bliss. I am now back to making appointments and continuing inflicting some cringe worthy moments on unsuspecting Normands.
Please do let me know your views on deconfinement/confinement in the comments below.
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