Today’s team review is from Robbie, she blogs here https://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com/
Robbie has been reading Writedown: Lockdown in the Galloway Glens at the Time of Covid by Margaret Elphinstone et al
Last year, my family visited Scotland for a holiday. I remember Scotland as being beautiful, peaceful, and fairly sparsely populated compared to England. I also remembered that it rained a good deal. It was a wonderful experience. When I saw this book about a group of 22 writers living in the Galloway Glens during lockdown, I was curious to read how life had changed in Scotland as a result of Covid-19 and the accompanying lockdown. Living in South Africa during our lockdown period from 27 March to approximately the end of August, I was also interested to know how life in Scotland during lockdown differed from life here in South Africa.
The diary posts of all of the contributors were fascinating, they told tales of active and busy lives disrupted by the lockdown. Mixed feelings of relief at getting a welcome, but unexpected, reprieve from our ‘hamster in a ball’ style lives and frustration at the loss of freedom. I was quite surprised to read just how busy the majority of the contributors are in the daily lives compared to my elderly parents who are retired and live life at quite a slow and relaxed pace.
There is a great sense of loneliness expressed in the words of those who were living alone during this time, very different from my own experience where everyone in my family was schooling and working from home and I felt like I never got a minute to myself. On reflection, I was a bit ungrateful for the companionship and fellowship my family offered. One of the most compelling messages in this book for me were the following words shared by Lynne: “”Language … has created the word ‘loneliness’ to express the pain of being alone. And it has created the word ‘solitude’ to express the glory of being alone.” I craved solitude, but never experienced loneliness. Loneliness can be soul destroying.
There are also many expressions of anxiety conveyed in these diary entries. Anxiety about many things including the writers own health and that of their families, as well as the health of friends and other members of the community, including front-line workers in the medical profession. There were also expressions of anxiety about the economic implications of the pandemic as well as concern about the future and how long the pandemic would last.
The strongest message for me, in reading this book, is the difference between in a lockdown in a third world country, where jobs and money are scarce at the best of times, and lockdown in a first world country where people have more financial security.
In South Africa, economic concerns generally outweighed concerns about health. The lock down resulted in millions of people being put on unpaid leave in the hospitality, tourism and entertainment sectors. These sectors have still not recovered and a significant number of people have lost their jobs. There are less benefits available here and only select people received government aid. The poverty we are seeing in the aftermath of the lockdown is overwhelming and frightening. People are going hungry and are begging for food on the streets. Our crimes rates have also rocketed.
The major impacts of the lockdown in the UK revolve around the psychological effects of isolation, loneliness and depression. In other words, mental health effects rather than the physical effects I see on a daily basis. Having read this book, I am of the view that the mental health issues are just as significant and concerning as the physical effects, and could potentially receive less recognition because they are less visible.
I found this book to be incredibly thought provoking and relevant, and I believe that would be the case for all readers regardless of their personal lockdown experience.
Writedown provides a unique record of life in Galloway, south west Scotland during lockdown through the work of 22 writers in a collection of lyrical poetry, desperate rants, humour and quiet endurance. They tell the story of a community encountering unprecedented times.