One of a series of love letters to Norwich during the coronavirus lockdown of 2020. A few local people reflecting on what they miss, about everyday life in the city.
Dear Norwich, I love you, and I’m sorry I’ve not said it enough recently, but relationships need work and in times of crisis you realise what you’ve taken for granted. I love your friendly residents, I love how liberal and understanding you are, I love that you’re safe and relaxed and I love how many green spaces you have. I love your streets and your skies and how many people you can bump into in the space of five minutes.
Before lock down I prepared not by gathering toilet roll and supplies but by painting as many uplifting murals as I could on the streets of Norwich, because I knew you’d need them. A few words carefully chosen can make a huge difference to someone’s day. I could feel the uncertainty in the air but I knew Norwich would stand firm. We have a great sense of community here and in times like this, that’s what really matters.
Some people have isolated and stayed inside but that’s not an option for a a wild stallion like me, I cannot be stabled! Luckily for me I live close to the UEA and Marriots Way and have biked and walked both regularly. It’s been great to see more and more people enjoying the outdoors on bikes and in family groups. I’ve never seen Marriots Way so busy. Spring is such an important turning of the seasons and I’ve really noticed every little bud emerge this year as I’ve walked to the allotments the long way round. I think we’ve all been noticing more.
My world has gotten smaller and that’s ok. I am privileged to live by Earlham House shops and sometimes it feels like a village. The shopkeepers are your friends and a brief chat with Luke from The Greengrocers or Frances at Kuzma can really brighten your day, especially if it’s the only other adult you’ve spoken to and it’s fine because it’s a really good one.
The quiet streets have reminded me of times gone by when there were less people and less cars around. When I was a teenager in the 90’s, on a Sunday you could walk around the empty city centre and feel like you had plenty of space and that’s what we have now, space, to think, to change, to pause and to breathe.
I’ve felt more connected to my neighbours since lock down and that’s something really special, a strong sense of community is more important than anything else for morale. I’ve helped them with their gardens and chatted on doorsteps. I’ve also smiled and waved at people walking about because you can tell that they need that as well as you, a little connection, a little sign that we might be alone but we still care about each other.
Things I’ve missed… touching everyone’s dogs, chip shop chips, an evening well misspent at The Birdcage, the beach and obviously all my lovely friends and family. You’re all getting a whacking great hug as soon as we can and probably everyone else as well, so look out!
Things will go back to normal and by normal I mean we will touch again, but I think if we learn one thing from this, it’s that the constant consumption of material goods is unsustainable and we don’t need all those things. What we need is love and connection with other beings. Friends, family, pets.
I love you all (and your dogs) xxx