It’s been almost a year since all normal activities stopped in Edinburgh because of covid… and I sort of remember the first days when I started cutting out my outings, although I still went out relatively frequently – I went to Tesco once a day to get some fresh vegetables (I remember I was into celery sticks and cream cheese back then), and soon after they advised not to go shopping frequently so instead I started going on early morning walks around the Meadows… but I wanted to check what I did before all those precautions came in. The last moments of enjoying the freedoms I didn’t know we’d all lose!
So I checked my trustworthy MacBook calendar and here’s what I did…
Saturday, 7 March – I start on a Saturday because Friday 13 March was really when my ‘normal life’ ended. That day I went to the post office to pick up a parcel – it was from my mum – and I think afterwards I went to Costa to sit and read. Or maybe I didn’t? Who’s to know? I think in the parcel there were coloured fineliners I asked my mum for.
Sunday, 8 March – That day I remember well. First of all, it was my dad’s birthday; second of all, I was working at a rugby match. It was one of the Six Nations matches. We were starting quite early, around noon, and the day was beautiful and sunny, so I decided to treat myself to a takeaway coffee on my way there. It was the one and only time that I went to easyCoffee in Haymarket. I got a stamp on my newly acquired loyalty card, and I bought an iced pumpkin spice soy latte. A mouthful, isn’t it? It was great, very cold and it matched the sunny, cheerful day perfectly. And easyCoffee has really cheap coffee, for Edinburgh coffeeshop standards at least. (Sure, it’s a chain. No, I’m not afraid of chain coffee, as you can see. Actually, I used to go to chains most times I went out for coffee).
The match was really fun to work at because my friend from S College St place was working as we were short of staff, so I super quickly recruited him that morning! And he’s a very fun person, so that was a pleasure to have him on the team that day. So all in all, that was a great day. I’m glad I got to experience it just before the pandemic.
Monday, 9 March – Well, my calendar tells me I went to the dentist that day. I don’t remember it. Other than that, a PALS debrief and a meeting in the evening. I don’t remember those things either. My memory is patchy.
Tuesday, 10 March – I remember this day probably the most vividly. My friend was campaigning to be our university’s student union president, and that day was the last day to go around student halls door-knocking to talk to potential voters. After dark (it was around 6pm, I think) we went door-knocking in a couple of student halls in central Edinburgh.
When I reflected on that after covid hit, I thought: what a dumb thing to be doing just before the pandemic! Like, we could’ve spread germs, we could’ve caught it, we could’ve made it worse… Did we? Well, that we’ll never know! But I do remember banging on the doors until someone opened, and talking to those students having pre-drinks and getting ready for going out (it was a Tuesday evening after all).
Afterwards we went to our (my) beloved place in S College Street and I think we had rocky road or tiffin squares, or the sort, and I think I had coffee and he refused to have either tea or coffee because he doesn’t drink stuff like that. He doesn’t drink it because of the colonial/imperial legacy of tea and coffee. And for that reason he doesn’t really eat chocolate either. What an interesting personality, right?
Well, I can tell you he has an interesting personality, and now he even has a quite successful business! It’s still in its early days as it’s a few months old (though I think closer to a year now than a quarter), but he’s such a determined person that I’m not surprised at how well he’s been managing it. He obviously wasn’t voted the student union president, but it’s probably good for him – I feel sort of bad for the student union reps who had to work this year, and probably weren’t aware their entire terms would be affected by a pandemic… must suck. But correct me if I’m wrong.
Wednesday, 11 March – That week was some sort of talks organised by the student and lecturer strike, as it was the last week of the strike. We were meant to start lectures on Monday 16 March… which never happened. Nonetheless, I used the opportunity to go to some talks. On Wednesday it was a talk+discussion on the ‘commodification of student lifestyles’. It was really thought provoking, though I must admit that none of the things that were mentioned should’ve come as a surprise… There were some people I knew at that talk, too, so that was nice. We were sitting in a big circle of chairs in the gym where our conservation society had the charity ceilidh in February 2020.
It also says I had another dentist appointment that day. Seriously??! I don’t remember that either.
Thursday, 12 March – That day I went to a discussion group in an independent bookstore next to the university’s main campus. We talked about peer learning, related in a way to the PALS volunteering I was doing that year. I remember I said some stuff, as there weren’t many people there (there couldn’t have been because the bookstore has very limited space…). Also, I never really went to that bookstore before for any longer than to go in and out. (It’s probably too radical for me, come to think of it).
Friday, 13 March – Friday the thirteenth! The crucial thing is I did laundry that day. And laundry back in those days really was a challenge, because – to make sure you had a vacant machine – you had to get up really early and claim it before anyone else did… I was also meant to go to the election results night, but because covid got serious that day, I didn’t go. So I stayed in my flat all day.
And that’s where normalcy ended.
Thanks for hanging out and reading about my last week of pre-covid life. I don’t know what’s there in it for you, but I wonder if you too tried to remember the last week before covid came into your life. Or perhaps you’re always thinking about it? Either way, let me know. I’d be glad to hear anything.