Journal of the Covid Years: BBQs and Politics

Finally we are allowed to sit down for a meal with our family — provided we eat it outside. The other big news of the week was the growth of the Black Lives Matter movement. Despite (or maybe because of) the restrictions, the killing of George Floyd became something that looked as if it might actually change something.

Saturday 6 June 2020

Big event of the week: driving over to Mike’s for a BBQ (now that two households of up to 6 people can meet in a private garden). I skived off work early, took the champagne out of the freezer and piled into the car, wearing a summer dress and floppy hat. Even the drive over seemed interesting: what a lot of people these days have bushy beards. The greetings were a bit awkward – no approaching or hugging. But once we had settled into our suitably distanced seats, life seemed almost normal. We watched kites and squirrels as the sun sank behind the neighbour’s sycamore. I added two cardigans to the summer dress.

Mike served four courses, over a long, long time.  Mike and G now have S staying with then, after her plans to travel the world fell apart. S had cooked lager chicken while Mike had baked a swiss roll.  Conversation flowed with the Pimms, mainly about house buying, and house prices and how much mortgage to take out.  We took Morley (the dog) for a walk around the park in the dark. At 10pm I noticed it was past my bedtime, but it was 12.30 before I got to bed. I’m not used to these late nights anymore.

On Thursday I was invited to a big online civil service meeting about Black Lives Matter.  It was huge – up to the full 250 participants the system allows. Black civil servants talked about how they felt after watching the George Floyd video. Answer – emotional: anxious and angry and shocked. And, in lockdown, the “mask” has gone. Civil servants no longer dress up and do their hair and put on their work personas. “This is the first time I’ve shown myself at work with my natural hair”, one woman said. “I’m being my authentic self at last,” said another, “and that self is an angry black woman.” Work is less present, and children are more present. There was a lot of talk about how you explain George Floyd to your kids.

This was followed by a work meeting in which no-one had read the papers. Working from home is starting to fall apart.