I’m Used to Being On My Own

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my own lamp and bookshelf with chair

I live on my own, and I’m used to being on my own. During Covid, I feel safer than most – so far so good.

Over the summer the Covid restrictions were fine. To be honest… the sun was shining… you were able to do all the things that you wanted to do and you could invite people into your garden. Now that it’s the winter it’s a bit more restrictive. You just have to be careful.

Although I’m used to living on my own, sometimes during the  winter you think: is this  ever going to get any better?

But, in my head I say:  things could be worse. There are people in a much worse situation. That’s the way I look at it. You have to be very positive, because I think if you didn’t think that way you could get depressed. 

I feel sorry for people who have families – especially young children.  It must be very hard for them to work from home and school their children as well. I wonder how they do it? I know I couldn’t do it…. concentrating on work and trying to sort out the kids – it must be a nightmare.

And older school children how do they cope with it?

When we were young we could go to nightclubs and go out, but the young ones are missing out big time. And it must be awful for people in London who live in small flats.

I’ve lived in this house for  over thirty years.

soft chair with cushion and picture

My home is all about comfort…. and that it’s warm and inviting. It’s a sanctuary…and somewhere where you feel safe.  

It’s supposed to be three bedrooms but the smaller room is now a wardrobe –  so, it’s really only two bedrooms.   I have  a sitting room, a dining room and a kitchen and a garden.  Over the years I have done a lot to the house.

I used to have other people living here with me but then I just decided that I was able to afford to live on my own, so that was that. 

Upstairs, I have three wardrobes full of clothes and  I think I should have a clear out to get rid of some. My excuse is that the charity shops aren’t open! 

Throughout the pandemic I use Dettol on the floors and I keep the windows open  during the day –  I make sure I’ve a lot of jumpers on while I’m doing it.

my own sofa and cushions by window

We are ‘social people’ and right now we are being restricted in what we can do.

The impression I get is that we are going to be more restricted. Listening to today’s news, a lot of people are still breaking the rules – so things might get a lot stricter, unfortunately.

This isn’t ‘normal’. 

You can’t go out to  restaurants and you can’t go out to a bar. It’s the social interaction with people that I miss most – definitely.

garden and houses

Although I’m not a gardener – I only do it when need’s must – this summer I enjoyed just getting out and sitting outside. But, you can’t  do that in the winter time because it’s too cold.  I have  friends who don’t have a garden so they were able to come over. We were all socially distanced and spread out.

A friend of mine said: isn’t it awful that now the only place we can ‘socialise’ is when we go to a funeral! You have got to try to look at it – from the negatives there are some positives.

If you go out to socialise you think: should I do that or should  I not? That’s the dilemma we face. You really have to think. Am I doing the right thing?

Right now, hardly anyone gets to come inside my home. If they do come in they have their masks on, they only stay about 15 minutes, and then they are away again. 

Because I don’t have a car my niece comes over every Thursday to take me grocery shopping –  I’m even sort of worried about that. 

Normally I’m a bit of a shopper, unfortunately that has been curtailed as well. I don’t like doing things online. I prefer to go out to the shops, have a look about and browse; I like being in a shop. Now, because of this situation, where shopping is concerned, I try to keep it to a minimum.

I still get the bus into town and if it looks crowded downstairs I will go upstairs.  People do their best to separate out and they all wear masks. In the beginning  you could see people without masks but now it’s rare to see anyone without a mask. 

On the news today, Professor Whitty said  that he thinks people should wear a mask at all times – even outside. To be honest, I’m inclined to agree with him. 

Sometimes I wear sunglasses and I realise I am not wearing the mask properly, because the sunglasses were misting up.  Then I read in an article about masks that you should sort of prop the glasses on top of your mask and that stops it from misting up. It’s little things like that… makes things easier.

A typical day? I get up about 9 o’ clock and then go out and have a little cigarette outside. I come back in and have two cups of coffee. Then, I would put the TV on and sort of watch it for a while then go up and have a shower and get dressed. I tidy up the place, and if it’s not raining, I think  about going out for a walk. It’s just to get out of the house, to be honest.

my own garden shed and houses

My walk takes me round the embankment and through the park and past the university and over the bridge. I don’t do it for the  ‘steps’ – I just do it.  It makes me feel great and I’m glad to get out.

I have always been a walker. I used to walk into work and walk home again. Then I got my bus pass and that was the end of that. But I still walk quite a lot. 

I must admit there are a lot more people out walking than before. In the first lockdown you didn’t see a soul so I think everybody’s simply making the most of it. We just hope for the brighter nights and brighter days. 

my own 2 chairs and lamp

My friends and I phone each other regularly – but there’s ‘no biz’, and   all we talk about is how fed up we are… and what’s on TV. 

TV is crap. I’ve never seen so many repeats.

I have Netflix. My niece is very into Netflix but I’m not that technically minded and I’m afraid to go into it. She’s taught me how to use it but  I’m always frightened of going into it in case I break the TV. But, I must go there because everybody says it’s brilliant. There’s one about the chess girl  – it’s meant to be wonderful. And Bridgerton, it’s supposed to be really good. People say The Crown is really good – although it’s not factually true.

Some of my friends and I have organised to go to London in June. Another friend is supposed to be coming over in April but… we are all watching this space. You are frightened to book anything just in case. A lot of people have booked stuff and they are not getting their money back.  

All this is like something out of a movie. It worries me that things will never get any better – that it will always be like this. 

They say that a lot of the younger people are getting infected now.  It’s probably because when lockdown eased they went out to restaurants and pubs.

And you also think about the cancer patients…  all those people needing treatment, and not getting it. 

The economy is also a big worry because there is only so much the government can do. The fact is: this happening all over the world – it’s not only us.

You read on the BBC website that many businesses won’t survive. But, I worry more about the people who work in the pubs, like the bar men and the waitresses, rather than the people who own them.

Personally, I’m lucky my mortgage is paid for and I have my private pension and my state pension.  But there’s a lot of people out there who, I’m sure, are faced with a lot of worries. How are they surviving?

my own kitchen sink and window

Every morning I tidy up the house but you get bored with that – there’s only so much you can do. To be honest some days I can’t even remember what day it is – I get a bit confused.  Somebody phoned me the other day and  I thought it was Wednesday but they said it was Thursday. 

Sometimes I don’t even watch the news….. I couldn’t be bothered. 

At the moment I’m sort of taking it day by day. 

I like to read. Some books are from the library and others I buy. I’ve quite a few books and I sit and  read here at night and watch the TV, and that’s it. You have no option but to stay at home.

When things get back to normal I’m looking forward to socialising with people again and being able to do the things that you normally do. But, because this is the wintertime  you don’t go out very much any way – truth be told.  

kitchen and oven

Recently, I was contacted by the Health Board to do a survey, and on the back of that they are going to give me a monthly Covid test.  If I do get Covid  at least they come to my house – rather than me  having to find somewhere to get a test.

I’m quite an active person but I think the Covid testing places they have set up are not very handy- especially for the older generation. You need a car, and so you are therefore reliant on someone else. If you have Covid  you shouldn’t have to get somebody to drive you. 

My sister is a care worker in a nursing home and is tested every week. Some people she works with were tested  and didn’t even know they had Covid-19! It’s amazing that some people don’t even know they have it and yet others are very ill.  

We are all keeping our fingers crossed for these vaccines.

They say we will probably have to get them every year like the flu injection. I’m 67  so I got the flu injection for the first time this year. It was a military operation even going for it.

We know we are not out of the woods yet and the situation seems to be getting worse instead of better. But, these vaccines will bring a glimmer of light. 

my own fireplace with mirror and TV

Right now, I am fine. I can go out for a walk every day…and I know I am very fortunate.

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Follow Nuala Rooney:

I am designer, educator and researcher with 25 years teaching/research experience delivering human-centred insights across the social/spatial sphere. My passion lies in exploring people's personal relationships with space across different life stages: design as lived experience.

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