ArtsCOVID-19

No more Cruel Summers!

A feeling of normal life is slowly but surely starting to return to the UK as the Government's roadmap out of lockdown continues, says Georgina Littlejohn.

Today I booked tickets for a gig. A real, live, in-person concert. I’ve not been to a music event since February 2020, a month before the world turned upside down.

As someone who has missed live music and theatre these last 13 months, I couldn’t contain my excitement as the ticket confirmation dropped into my inbox. I’ve been so used to receiving the “due to the coronavirus pandemic, such and such will be postponing their concert until…” messages over the last year, that this one filled me with joy and optimism.

On June 26th, I will join about 10,000 people to revisit our youth to sing and dance along to 80s pop icons Bananarama and Culture Club outside the historic Kenwood House in north London.

I can already see the happy faces, the snaking queues to the portaloos and bars and smell the burgers and hot dogs – and it makes me very happy indeed.

A feeling of normal life is slowly but surely starting to return to my city and country as the Government’s roadmap out of lockdown continues.

For the last four months, I have looked forlornly at my calendar, the empty days staring back at me where dinners and drinks with friends and families, gigs and shows should be booked in. But this month, my diary started to fill as I booked salon appointments and afternoon get-togethers with good friends in the garden of my local pub. I even went shopping and bought some clothes for the first time since last summer.

And May is looking even better. Already I have booked tickets to spend the last Bank Holiday weekend in Liverpool, am seeing friends in Surrey the weekend before and my fiance and I have booked a table at our local Italian for dinner indoors.

The other positive side to all of this is the end of furlough – or even new employment – for so many people. Bar and restaurant staff, chefs, hairdressers, beauticians, barbers, gym staff, personal trainers, and those who work in retail.

From May 17th, hotels and B&Bs can welcome guests again, cinemas and theatres will reopen – albeit with limited capacity – and performers can once again tread the boards that have been quiet since last March.

Then, before we know it, June 21st will be upon us – and we will be thrust back into life as we knew it. Before lockdown, masks, hand sanitiser, social distancing, the Rule of Six and track and trace became part of our everyday vocabulary. 

And I cannot wait to embrace it all. I will be booking spa weekends, taking staycations up and down this great nation, there at the front of the Everyman queue with my popcorn, taking my seat before curtain up and pouring money back into the businesses that need it the most.

I’ve had enough of living my life behind closed doors and witnessing the scaremongering on social media and the self-righteous who want to shame or put the fear of god into us.

The end is very much in sight, cases are through the floor and the vaccine rollout continues at great pace – half of the adult population of the UK have now been jabbed. And if Chris Whitty says we have to live with it and treat it like the flu from now on, then that’s good enough for me. 

I’ve played by the rules, I’ve stayed at home, I’ve worn my mask and washed my hands 20 times a day, I’ve stayed away from family and friends or met them at a social distance, I’ve gone slowly stir crazy in my flat – I’ve done my bit.

I need to escape, hug people, have fun, watch live shows, dine out with no restrictions – I want my life back! 

So roll on the summer – I just hope it isn’t a Cruel one.

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Georgina Littlejohn

Georgina Littlejohn is a journalist with more than 25 years of experience specialising in general and London news, entertainment and music. She cut her teeth in TV writing for news, sport and showbiz programmes before moving into print, starting at Associated Newspapers where she worked across the board from the Metro to the Standard to the London Lite before ending at MailOnline, where she was one of the senior showbiz reporters. After going freelance and working stints at the Mirror, the Sun, Music Week and Closer magazine, she took a career break in 2014 to work for theatre impresario Bill Kenwright as his Head of Communications. After a year as Senior Homepage Editor for MSN, she is now back freelancing and currently working for the i newspaper and its award-winning website. Georgina also volunteers as a kennel assistant for the Mayhew and as a befriender for Age UK.

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