Monday, July 13, 2020

Leicester Lock down Part 2

Leicester is still in lock down, it's due to be reviewed on the 18th, with rumours that it will be extended. I wasn't sure about writing this post, but after finding the last week really hard I'm doing it partly because it helps me deal with it, and hopefully because if anybody reading this finds themselves in a similar situation they might find it helpful as well.

The first thing is that still being in lock down whilst the rest of the country is coming out of it is much harder than I anticipated. It feels weird seeing friends doing things whilst I'm still stuck at home. The idea of pubs being open is frankly frightening, but the school situation seems worse. Leicester's schools were closed again which sends a fairly specific message which is hard to reconcile with increased relaxation elsewhere. There's no sense in which it feels like we're all in this together, it's very much a case of feeling left behind.

The city centre is emptier than it's been since early April, although nothing is shifting the hardcore group of drinkers who have colonized the middle of my local park. There will be anything uo to 30 of them at a time, they're not daunted by the threat of virus (although as less than fit looking men in their 50's and 60's you'd hope they might be) heavy rain, or the police who regularly come through and ask them to move on.

They're easy enough to avoid, and I suppose the fact they're their at all means that they're not trying to get into pubs and bars outside the lock down zones, and why would they? The park with a bag of cheap lager is cheaper and less regulated than any pub is going to be. I still find them intimidating both in numbers and for the All Lives Matter football shirts they favour. There are noticeably less younger people around.

If you live, as I do, near the centre of the lock down zone the distance to leave it is a deterrent in itself. If you live on the edge of it I wonder how tempting it is to ignore the new regulations? I've certainly been surprised by the number of people suggesting that I pack up and clear out for a week or two. This is hard as well because it's really tempting to do exactly that and the reality is that I've been careful enough for there to be near zero chance of having come into contact with the virus - one of the things I'm really struggling with at the moment is how hard I find it to make myself leave my flat. I'm more worried about lack of exercise than anything else at the moment, but if we don't follow the rules where does that leave us (quite apart from the possibility of a fine)?

There seems to be a growing conviction that this is primarily a problem that's caused by, and effects, the city's Asian and black population, which is both disturbing and outright dangerous. The worst part of this is that it's a narrative that the government seems comfortable encouraging, partly I assume in an effort to discredit local Labour leadership.

There still doesn't seem to be any really clear explanation of why Leicester has been hit so badly, especially compared to other cities with similar demographics and industries. Leicester is a poor city, the council has had the same swinging budget cuts that everyone else has had under a decade of austerity measures, and you can see the damage that's done everywhere.

The sweat shop set ups in the textile industry are no secret. Sarah O'Conner wrote about them here 2 years ago, and again earlier this month here, which includes this link from UK Parliments website that lists how our current government rejected every recommendation to clean up the garment industry. This Guardian article which criticises Priti Patel's comments on sweat shops highlights further problems. It's an issue that's been raised over and over again, but ignored. The news this weekend that a farm in Hereford has 73 confirmed cases amongst it's pickers (here) indicates it's not just factories that are a problem.

Brexit was bad enough for bringing the racists out of the woodwork, Covid is compounding that. The very last thing Leicester needs is a rise in racial tension. The people who live here are being badly let down by a government that either doesn't have a plan or refuses to communicate it. It looks like there won't be any extra help for businesses (here), and altogether things look bleak.


  1. Thanks for this. I find your insights and experiences of the lockdown very interesting and informative, even though I am fortunate not to be in the same situation and am unlikely to be (I live in rural Ireland). Helen

    1. It feels like England particularly has handled this whole thing quite badly. I'm not naturally a Conservative voter, but until the last few years I always felt that the people in the top jobs were reasonably competent and had the countries best interests at heart even if I fundamentally disagreed with whatever that vision was. I no longer feel like that at all. I'm not up enough on Irish politics to really know what's happening over with you, but last time I was there in October it was noticeable that the tone of the debate seemed much more grown up and serious than here.

  2. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and feelings in these weird times. Makes me even more grateful to be where I am, but also shows how wrong this all is and government has done too little too late. Scottish government appears to be clearer than English. As you will know we (Shetland) were a hot spot early on and could be again if folk are not careful with the rules.
    Keep doing what your doing, I love your book reviews and knitting.

    1. Thank you. I'm desperate to get back up to Shetland, but have no intention of doing so until I'm sure it's as safe as reasonably possible to do so (not that I can at the moment, but even when I do I'll basically have quarantined myself before travelling). The situation is frustrating, but regardless of how much we like it, or how little sense they make we've got to follow the rules we have or nothing will change.

  3. That sounds totally grim! I know how you feel about being wary to leave the house. We felt the same when we were suddenly part of a Covid cluster last week, it felt depressingly like going back to square one.
    I'd just like to let you know how highly I value your blog, I haven't only found books I enjoy, but drinks and recipes and descriptions of interesting places I'd love to visit. Your insightful and deeply personal comments have warmed my soul and I imagine, have helped me become more open myself. Thank you!
    When I'm feeling down, I find reading anything by Elisabeth von Arnim is fabulous.

  4. Thank you, that's so kind. I started this blog in 2009 and keep on doing it because I still find it a really helpful thing to do for all sorts of reasons - one is that being able to write out some things makes them much more manageable. Another is that I've met or made contact with some brilliant people along the way. Covid is, well it's a lot, but we'll get there in the end.