• Darren Roberts


In 1964 Bob Dylan sang ‘Times they are a changin’. Well fifty-six years later give or take a few weeks, old Bob was pretty much bang on. What a surreal life we have found ourselves living in. The Corona Virus has changed everything about the way we live, everything is different. Hugs, kisses and handshakes have become weapons and ‘not’ visiting your parents or loved ones has become the new act of love. Social distancing has turned life as we know it on its head.

We can no longer go outside to meet our friends and socialise freely – we now have to organise impromptu House Parties - the online phenomenon which has found its feet during lockdown. House Party to the layman plays out like a really chaotic University Challenge; noisy, anarchic and fuelled by beer and wine. Random mates sitting in their respective homes enjoying their own personal version of crazy, all coming to terms with their new Covid reality and that a cheeky glass of grape juice at 10am is more than acceptable. There are no rules in a post-apocalyptic Covid reality, all you have to focus on is keeping yourself sane whilst keeping your distance. (I was going to say that you need to keep yourself from going ‘bat shit crazy’ but it was that which got us into this trouble in the first place).

Trips to the supermarket are now planned like a military exercise, all outcomes considered and discussed, all scenarios played out. The aim to simply get in and out of the supermarket and home safely with as little human interaction as possible sounds easy, right? It’s now fashionable etiquette to demonstrate considered distancing and to stress to other shoppers ‘stay the fuck out of my space’. No one bats an eyelid or thinks you’re being rude because everyone shopping in this new reality has planned and is executing their supermarket sortie in the same way as you - with the same new acceptable bad manners which to be honest is like any other normal day grocery shopping, but this is shopping Covid style.

Delivery drivers have never been so busy as online shopping has become the stress relief and chosen recreation for the people who can’t get motivated to join PE with Joe Wicks or watching the depressing news being spewed out on a daily basis. I choose not to watch the newly christened ‘death TV’ preferring to spend my time browsing online. So many things that I would never normally purchase without a fight or chauvinistic objection, are now on my Covid online shopping list; ironing board, kettle, Brita water filter, floor sponge.

I am a retail marketeers dream, the ultimate sundries consumer. If it cleans, I’ll buy it. If it smells nice, I’ll buy it. If it doesn’t leave a residue, it's coming home to me. life has never been so domestically fulfilling in a pair of yellow latex gloves and armed with Cillit Bang. The really exciting part of this new sparklingly clean and lemon zesty fresh reality is when there is a knock at the door and it all arrives - delivery day.

Delivery day is a big event in this new Covid reality as it means potential interaction is on the cards, interaction with another human being albeit from 2 metres and through a mask, that is if you are lucky to see them or even get a glimpse - as now you have to be quick on your toes- really quick. Receiving a delivery is a magical experience; no more inane awkward chit-chat about the weather or how many more deliveries he’s got after mine. As quickly as it takes me to mask up, put on some gloves, protective eye goggles and open the door they're gone, vanished in the same way only Santa Claus himself can pull off - and all that is left is the package on the doormat and the faint smell of deodorant.

Cancer is a nightmare at the best and worst of times, but this virus has made everything really challenging. Consultations and scans have been cancelled and treatments delayed. I spoke to my Oncologist 4 weeks ago and was told to stay at home and isolate and effectively hibernate till June for my next CT scan. “See you in 3 months Darren”. WTF?! I have 3 active tumours! How on earth am I going to cope mentally with the weight of worry and stress, praying my meds continue to be effective and I have no complications.

I am registered as ‘vulnerable’– a word I’ve only ever used once on Tinder whilst trying to portray myself as sensitive to the ladies. Vulnerable is not a word I’ve ever used to secure myself a delivery slot for groceries.

All of my lockdown goals are still in the planning stage; my autobiography, learning Spanish and practicing Vinyasa are all in the ‘good intention bank’ and ready for tomorrow. I’ll start them tomorrow. I have till bloody June. No?

I have actually come to a couple of important conclusions through my intensive couch TV research:

1. Carole Baskin is as guilty as OJ Simpson.

2. Drop Zone 1 is the definitely the best Drop Zone out of all four.

3. The Kardashians is utter dog shit, but I am now guilty of watching the odd episode

and actually giving a toss when Khloe has ‘anxiety’ - I bet she doesn’t have to look down the back of the sofa for some loose change for a pint of milk - still compellingly shit though.

I’m 6 weeks into lockdown. 6 weeks is 42 days or 1008 hrs – I know this because I have lived every second of every day. I try to fill my days with things that don’t make me question my sanity whilst I stay healthy and well. So, every time I see people flout the law it makes me so angry. The Bank Holiday weekend was a chance for the Country to unite and show solidarity in the fight against this virus which has completely fucked over everyone on the planet. Surely there could be no more motivation to stay indoors than that - but still people went outside to enjoy the fresh air and take a stroll – mates, beers, tanning lotion and all. Don’t get me wrong there is nothing bad with this normal behaviour if it wasn’t for the fact we are in the middle of a global pandemic which is killing so many people and decimating life as we know it. Are people that stupid or just ignorant? Or both? I am beyond words.

It is because of these clowns that my future treatment and care is on hold, dictated by the few who simply can’t follow a simple instruction that we would give our dogs: ‘SIT! STAY!’.

Carry on like this and me and a million others like me will suffer. I have fought too hard and been at war with my cancer too many times to let a few mindless, selfish people ruin my life and my future. I would have loved nothing more than to have enjoyed some cheeky beers in the park but for the fact I respect this virus and its destruction enough to listen to the Government. I like most of the Country was forced to endure the hot weather from the front room and like many this wasn’t through choice.

How sadly ironic that the same people who clapped for the NHS and even shed a tear when applauding their service were sadly the same people flauting the law. This is something I find difficult to stomach.

I can’t wait to get my life back, enjoy a hug and a beer, get back to work and get back on my bike - back to living my best life and following the advice of my medical team. There are only so many jigsaw puzzles, word search magazines and episodes of The Kardashians I can endure. Plus, if I don’t solve this bloody Rubik's cube soon Nicola will find a place for it to live which will involve it being surgically removed.

So please stay at home. Save lives and protect the NHS.

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