John and Fay Dutton
Photographed 1st May 2020 - 40 days into lockdown 

John and Fay Dutton, both retired – Fay worked as a Public Health Doctor and John a Company Director with a management consultancy and IT assessment business.

We became aware of Covid locally when everyone went mad panic buying loo rolls and wiping out other supplies, leaving bare shelves in the supermarkets!  It only really affected us in the chaos at the builders’ merchants – plaster has been like gold dust since lockdown, although we were lucky enough to be able to get what we needed!

Our building work (converting the old stable block at the rear of our house into a separate Bungalow) has slowed down due to lack of supplies and needing to limit the number of workmen on site for social distancing.  We are pleased that we have nonetheless managed to look after some of our self-employed local builders and tradesmen as we know how difficult it has been for them with no other source of income.

The biggest change in the lockdown has been that John now finds himself in the ‘vulnerable’ group, so has been fairly strictly self-isolating – going out beyond the garden only for walks. I have moved into the spare room as I have been liaising with the builders and taking them regular mugs of tea and occasionally going, masked and gloved, to Tesco at 8 or 9 pm when it is pretty deserted but low on some things. We have really appreciated his kindness and helpfulness and others in the village, shopping and posting news and info on the village blog – and I love this project, hearing how others are doing! The lovely weather and the quietness and lack of traffic have also been great – when else could Cristian set up his photography gear in the middle of the road?

On the plus side, we have now figured out (with a little help from our daughter, Emily) how to get YouTube on the TV and watched Phantom of the Opera and Cats – neither of which we had previously seen!  There’s been some great theatre and dance available as well – much easier to access than trailing down to London, although not quite the same!

We have enjoyed chatting over the garden wall to folks on their walks when tending our veg beds. I have also had time to look at social media and have enjoyed some of the posts – there was a wonderful family rendition of a lockdown version from Les Mis quite early on! I have also been pleased to be able to continue with charity work with online trustee meetings saving lots of travel time and fuel, although the technology has had its challenges at times! And the charities have radically improved their online presence to help more people.

What have been the most painful aspects of this period? The uncertainty and I’m missing Pilates – I can’t seem to get the motivation to do Pilates on my own, even though the classes are available on line. And oh for a haircut!

What will you take from this time going forward? We no longer have the freedom to travel when and where we want.

What will I remember? The ridiculousness of The Donald, and the inability of the government to get on top of the pandemic – how can we ease lockdown if we haven’t a clue who’s got it or who’s had it?  WHO said ‘test, test, test’ but the govt gave priority to building high profile Nightingales and getting ventilators rather than the less visible basics of PPE and test, trace and isolate which could have prevented the need for nightingales and ventilators and the disaster for our care homes. Have recently seen on the news that Wuhan, the size of London, has just tested their entire population within 2 weeks with over a million tests a day. We have such a long way to go.

Written 25 May 2020

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