...and Downing Street called it ‘shielding’: LIFE IN THE LONDON LOCKDOWN

by Ruth Barnett

Bogged down and despondent after six weeks of ‘shielding’ – total lock-down with three family members and a household friend – Ruth Barnett found the experience exhausting, in fact practically overwhelming. A friend from abroad suggested she distill the experience, blend it with related observations, and weave the whole into a time-limited piece of journal writing, a memoir of sorts.

The result is this challenging new book. In it, Barnett recounts everyday concerns and at times overly encumbering responsibilities, all the while becoming gradually aware of things she can use to expand her activities so as to draw her mind back to the light of day. The observations she regularly penned successfully served to coax body and spirit back from the depths, while at the same time invigorating her thinking.

In all, Barnett offers here a set of personal reflections on a host of topics including lockdown life in a pandemic, UK education, family, democracy, sexism, genocide, racism, memoir writing, the environment, mental health, policing, coping with stress, journals and diaries, critical thinking – a modest contribution set forth in hopes of challenging our too often lazy critical faculties, an exercise sorely needed in these trying contemporary times.