We escaped to Windsor on 13 March 2020, thus starting our own lockdown ten days before Boris told us all to ‘stay at home’.  Today is a Day of Reflection and I have decided to focus on some positives. After a year that has been tough in so many ways for millions of people, I know I run the risk of coming across as a self satisfied old git, but what the hell, that’s probably not a bad description.

So, in no order of importance, here are five big plusses about my past 375 days.

Less choice:  I easily succumb to choice-overload, an unpleasant state of dissonance when faced with making decisions about whether to do this or that.  Since this and thats have been drastically reduced,  during the last year my agonising has plummeted.  Result: far more time spent in a blissful state of consonance.

More daytime reading:  My protestant work ethic has always prevented me reading for pleasure during the day (unless I was on holiday when I left my protestant work ethic at home)   The past year, with less to do, has freed up time to sit and read without feeling that I should be doing something else, something busier, something more ‘worthwhile’.  Result:  far more books read and thoroughly enjoyed.

Walking for its own sake:  I’ve always enjoyed walking but in my previous life it was a means of getting from A to B.  During the past year, since the need to get from A to B has all but disappeared, I have learnt to walk for the sheer pleasure of walking.  Result: some glorious walks (mostly along stretches of the Thames), typically clocking up 3.5 miles every day (375 days at 3.5 miles per day = 1,312.5 miles.  I’m rather impressed, I hadn’t worked that out before!).

Less noise pollution:  We live in the centre of Windsor with nearby (a) a pub, where drinkers often spilled out into the street, (b) a night club, where intoxicated youngsters were let out at 3am, (c) buskers, who endlessly repeated the only four songs they knew.  Also, in the bad old days, with the wind in the wrong direction, aircraft flew overhead on their approach to Heathrow.  For the past year the pub has been shut for long periods, the night club has never opened, there have been far fewer buskers/aircraft.  Result:  It’s been blissfully quiet.

Less rushing around:  We used to dash hither and dither, mostly between London and Windsor, often dragging suitcases behind us.  When we were in London we were purposeful, we did things: Wigmore Hall, Festival Hall, National Theatre, Tate Galleries, and so on.  Suddenly, all that stopped.  Result:  calm, measured days with no packing, no rushing to catch trains, the underground, buses.

There have been lots of other plusses too: phoning friends more often, conquering a digital version of the newspaper, becoming hooked on Government briefings, listening to classical music, painting watercolour greeting cards, writing short stories, sitting outside on the terrace doing absolutely nothing, watching amazing sunsets. 

Still, I’m starting to gear up for action.  I bought a new Senior Rail Card today and I have invested in a pair of AirPods Pro so that I can drown out unwanted noises with music of my choosing or listening to an audible book while I walk.           

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