This month.....

Happy Easter

Last year we went into lockdown during Lent. Mothering Sunday was the first Sunday when Churches were closed. I expect that all of us thought that after a few months we’d be ‘back to normal’. But it didn’t take long for us to realise that getting Covid 19 under control would take rather longer than that. Even then I think we probably thought it would be over by Christmas!

Just over a year later there are many things that we knew little about then that have now become part of our daily parlance. In clickbait fashion here are 10 that quickly came to my mind; I’m certain you will have your own list:

1 “Stay Home, Protect the NHS, Save lives”, “Stay Alert, Control the Virus, Save lives”, “Hands Face, Space” and of course back to “Stay Home, Protect the NHS, Save lives”.

Government guidance has come in sets of three points but a bit like the Ten Commandments we soon were trying to work out what that meant in particular circumstances and many of us were frequently looking for guidance on what we should do.

2 PPE.

I must confess that before 2020 when I saw tourists from the far east wearing sky blue masks on the streets of London I felt mildly annoyed and insulted. We are so used to seeing each other’s faces and even strangers will communicate with a smile but with a mask on it felt like people were wanting to hide from us and were the medical masks implying that we were all carrying some sort of lurgy? Well a year later we all know what PPE is and we automatically pop our facemask on when we enter a shop or a public place. For some the face mask has started to become a fashion item and since we are likely to be using them for a number of years to come it just shows how sensible those tourists were and how wrong I was.

3 Home schooling.

I’m not qualified to comment on home schooling except as a governor and I know for most children and their parents this has been a very hard aspect of the last year. Even natural introvert children have just been dying to get back to school and the company of others. Some individuals have found that home schooling has suited them well and some families have been drawn closer together in lockdown but I expect most have found you can have too much of a good thing and even the company of those we love wears thin after a while.

4 Zoom/Video Conferencing.

Zoom, like Hoover in the vacuum cleaner world, has become synonymous with video conferencing. In 2019 if you said Zoom to me I might have though of the 1960’s ice lolly (showing my age) I wouldn’t have thought of video conferencing. Video Conferencing has become such a central part of our lives from people having online meetings with colleagues to grandparents keeping in touch with grandchildren. People who were quite technophobic just a year ago are now dab hands with the technology. I’m afraid that my next few items all rely on the Internet in one way or another and most rely on Video Conferencing.

5 Joe Wicks.

Before we get too far from school we need to mention Joe Wicks. A year ago I’d have said Joe who? On 19th March Joe Wicks announced that at 9am every day from Monday to Friday he would be doing an online PE class “PE with Joe” became an instant success helping children to get some exercise and I expect helping to keep their parents sane too.

6 Online working, online meetings – “Your on mute.”

Large numbers of people started working from home. Not having to travel to work or meetings saved a huge amount of time and many companies found that their online workers were also working more efficiently. Not seeing people in person is a great loss but this change in working is likely to be one aspect of this last year that will lead to lasting changes in our work lives. Oh and the phrase of 2020 “Your on mute” when people had forgotten that they had muted their microphones. You’ll have heard that with online worship too. Which naturally brings us to…

7 Online worship – learning video skills.

As churches shut for Sunday worship most congregations went online. We desperately miss being in church and seeing people in 3D but many of use learned the skills to put on services online. Initially we might have called these “Virtual Services” but soon we realised that we were able to join together to worship and dropped the Virtual bit. Occasional offices have been difficult with long periods when baptism and weddings couldn’t happen and with very restricted numbers of people being able to attend these services. Funerals have been able to go ahead but with only close family and the closest of friends being able to attend. Many have joined funeral services that have been streamed. At such times we do want to be together but we’ve done our best to join together as community online.

8 Online Choirs – Marsh Family

The thing I’ve missed probably most, after actually being with people, is singing with them. Many choirs recorded songs but getting over the problems of delay (do we all know the work latency now?) between musicians and choir members has been difficult. Using a backing track that the musicians can play or sing along to has helped but there is still a lot of editing to do. Perhaps the most successful have been groups of people who had to be together anyway. The Marsh Family suddenly found themselves having hundreds of thousands of views when they put there “One Day More” lockdown parody on YouTube. They even got to perform on last months Comic Relief.

9 R and K numbers.

We might not have quite got our heads around K numbers yet but at the start of 2020 who knew what the R number was? Now we have the R number regularly reported without the need for an explanation. I expect by the end of the year we won’t need K numbers explained either.

10 Vaccination – Herd immunity

At the start of the pandemic there was a lot of talk of herd immunity but soon it was realised that to get there without a vaccine would see the collapse of the NHS and hundreds of thousands of deaths. Hence we went into the first lockdown. Perhaps the miracle of the Pandemic has been the speed at which multiple vaccines have been developed, tested and rolled out. Before 2020 the fastest development record was held by the Ebola vaccine which took 5 years to develop. Vaccines normally take 10 to 15 years to develop. The BioNTech/Pfizer “Tozinameran” Covid 19 vaccine took 337 from identification of the disease to approval, they’ve even got a Guinness World Record entry. The rest weren’t far behind. Like the space race the race to get Covid 19 vaccines will have many spin offs that we will benefit from in the years to come. We will need to get nearly 100% of the population of this country fully vaccinated to get to herd immunity and to really get through this we need nearly 100% of the population of the world to be fully vaccinated. That’s going to take quite a time.

Well what a year it’s been. Hopefully soon we will be able to get out and about more but many aspects of this last year will remain with us for the next few years. Some will have changed our lives forever. Clergy are expecting that producing online services will be a weekly part of our lives.

Personally as I write this I’m very excited as I’ve got a trip out to Bath Racecourse for my first inoculation and my second is in July but I know I’m going to still have to be careful as clergy make ideal “typhoid Marys”

Wishing you all the very best and looking forward to the time when we’ve all had our second jab!

Richard Curtis