2021: Learning From Lockdown... Part 4!

2020 was a whole mess! Sure we did have brief moments of semi-normality, those moments were cherished with the slice of fake-freedom that was bestowed to me. With one lockdown out of the way, Miss Rona was going to make us feel some kind of way! A second lockdown? A birthday in lockdown and a Christmas that would be a literal killer? No, Miss Rona wasn't done! 

I had gone the longest without visiting some place new, September 2020 came round and with careful optimism I booked two domestic trips within England. I didn't really want to integrate myself back into society because people had been acting the fool since July 4th, was it some kind of 'Independence Day' of stupid? I wasn't impressed by my region, it definitely was not a case of 'mask' for 'mask' situation going on! No! Movement surrounding my return to China was mad quiet, people were making their way back to the Middle Kingdom with their extra paperwork and Corona test results. I wasn't mad, I kept away from the WeChat groups after realising real quick that those people wouldn't appreciate their China returns like they should have done. Using a few choice words, I excused myself from those groups because my perspective had changed throughout the darkness of the first UK lockdown. I remain in favour with a legal return, I support the HR Department because they rightfully won't break any rules. Gloucester?

Venturing back out into the public felt strange, I had to get used to wearing a face mask! Getting some discounted train tickets, I headed to Gloucester for the day, I wanted to see what was good! I had checked some coaches out before the first lockdown, it would the train for me. Social distancing and washing my hands was fine with me, College Court showcased the inspiration Beatrix Potter had found for her famous 'Peter Rabbit' series. I was suffering from another case of reverse culture shock, I had experienced the most abrupt changes that brought me from Beijing, China back to England. Like a prayer, I found Gloucester's cathedral at the end of College Court. I wanted to see the cloisters that had been featured in the Harry Potter films. Getting down to the Gloucester Docks had to be done, the latest 'Rollin' On The River' had to be researched with England's River Severn in mind. It was heavenly to get out of the house for the day, life had been way too serious with nothing going on but the Rona! Oh, I needed Gloucester! 

Without a vaccine yet approved it was like we were living in a socially distanced purgatory, the new normal wasn't something that I was going to settle for! Absolutely not! Realising that my potential window for getting out about without a Tier or a new lockdown, I booked some train tickets and a hotel room! My destination would be Sheffield, a city that I had to shelve my visit due to the placing of the initial UK lockdown. Masked up once again, Birmingham New Street Station finally had those riot police that would be needed to correct those anti-masking halfwits. Kelham Island Museum showed me the history behind Sheffield's cast iron production, it had been the birthplace of what would become the modern 'toolbox!' Getting a bevvy and a bit of scran had to be done, going for the first pint since January 2020, I was made up! Not needing to wear a mask unless it was inside a public place felt amazing, that was a fact! Heading for Stacy Bank Farm, I found those rolling Yorkshire before that 25,000 step count! God's own country?

Those countryside views had me intoxicated, I didn't need to drink anything alcohol in that moment to have my troubles melt away! Making my way back into the city to find my hotel it was like the city of Sheffield had been put on a dusk curfew thing? I didn't get that memo as I checked into my hotel for the night, if truth be told it felt weird being in a hotel because those Beijing nights had me confided. Rising with the birds, I made the most of the in-room coffee and tea making facilities before I made it over to Victoria Docks. I made a promise to myself that I would treat myself to a Yorkshire style Afternoon Tea. I chose 'Jameson's' in the 'Antiques Quarter'. Forgetting those 'dine-in' social distancing rules, I stood up to see what cakes were on offer to only be told to sit myself down! Anyhow, I found those famous red brick houses that may have looked humdrum to the locals but to me I loved that industrial reminder. That night away was like a breath of fresh air, Miss Rona was about the throw us another bump in the road. NO!

A second lockdown? I wasn't having none of that scaremongering! Had we not been told to 'Eat Out To Help Out?' Oh, the irony! Locked down from early November to early December during 2020 left me with no choice, I would be spending my landmark 30th birthday under lockdown conditions! Oh, Miss Rona she better don't! She did! Making the best of an awful situation, I got my cook on! Creating my six part blog series 'Recipes with Miss Rona' because I wasn't going to be down and out, the virus wasn't going to get the best of me. Cooking up Puerto Rican, Cuban, Chinese and other types of world dishes, I made it my mission to create some culinary wonders on a serious shoestring! Casting my mind back to that time the previous year, I paid homage to my American comeback trip to create certain Vietnamese dishes and even a Kosher Babka bake! Cooking away my blues? Not quite exactly, I dealt with my stresses the way I knew best. Birthday and the festive season was upon, I used liquor to self-medicate because of lockdown life! Jeez!!!  

My Birthday arrived, all in all it was a nice day! I was able to bake a cake and spend time with some of my family. It was a different day because I had envisaged spending my Birthday weekend in Shanghai, China with my Scottish friend, Chris. The time spent at home in England gave me the time to gain much needed perspective and appreciation for my former international life. OK, those lockdown rules had the barbers closing down during the second lockdown, I had a Britney moment that led me to shaving my head with the lowest grade! Yeah, I loved my razor sharp cut because it felt so liberating to get that awful lockdown barnet off! Yeah, Baga Chipz made my lockdown birthday 'Much Betta' with my Drag Race inspired gifts. I appreciated the one year 'World of Wonder PLUS' subscription that my Aunts had bought me for my 30th birthday. I was able to re-watch RuPaul's Drag Race from Season One, they needed that Season 3 filter real quick! Drag Race Holland & Canada saved me! Alright? What was a Tier? No, no, no!

How did 2020s final quarter have me feeling? Like a baby I had my bottle but it wasn't milk that I was drinking on the daily? In the here and now, 2021 has me one month sober with a much clearer state of mind. I feel that those stresses were handled the way I saw fit in that moment, I know a dry January, February and March 2021 will help me as this third lockdown continues to be! Christmas? The world had been messed up by Miss Rona and her evil ways were about to get stupid as the Christmas season approached. Boris Johnson ignored the science once again, fresh from the second lockdown, we had a five day reprieve for Christmas plans to be made. Miss Rona would be kicking back for the holidays? Really? No! Keeping Christmas slim-lined for 2020, a short visit to my Grandparents was the only place where I ventured to during Christmas Day. Miss Rona took over from Father Christmas, with those mixing households, the death rate sky-rocketed as we called 2021. The scientists were right, resulting in a very COVID Christmas! 

2021 has graced us with its first month, the lessons from the three lockdowns has me soberer than someone who's battled a two day hangover! I cherished those three trips that I was able to take before the first lockdown and after that same 1st one. My birthday was a simpler affair, it taught me that I had been damn lucky the year before in Seoul, South Korea! Remembering that it's OK not be OK, I won't try and beat myself self up if I'm not feeling at my best. Throughout 2020, I had my hopes built and then smashed into one thousand pieces but with my health intact and family free of COVID-19, we all survived 2020! Beijing, China seems like another lifetime away, those quarantine like days and nights in those three hotels made me realise real quick that life throws us in whatever direction it needs to. Will I get back to China? Yes! When will that happen? That I don't know the answer to that question but sure as hell, I have faith with the vaccination program in full force, it will be soon enough! Lockdown, she better don't! Rona! 

Learning From Lockdown... 

Joseph Harrison 


  1. Surviving through 2020 is definitely an accomplishment but it sounds like you not only lived through these challenging times, but also thrived in other ways💕


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