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Lockdown was a quiet and solitary life – with no parties

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COLUMN: Stone's Throw by Jamie Stone

May 20th 2020. It was a Wednesday and the height of the lockdown.

I was doing a Harry Potter impersonation by working under the stairs. I had a phone, a screen, and a slightly doubtful heater because that spot under the stairs can be very cold, even in May.

Jamie Stone.
Jamie Stone.

Back then, Covid was very new and very frightening for us all. This was clear from the deluge of emails I was receiving. They were from people who didn’t know which way to turn and what this drastic change to all our lives meant.

We had draconian rules which we were all trying to obey in order to halt the spread of the virus and, because my wife has a disability, I had the additional responsibility to make sure that I kept her as safe as possible.

Hence, working under the stairs, participating in Westminster only virtually (to say a whole heap about the pandemic and the people who were losing out from it), shopping very carefully and less often. It was a quiet and solitary life.

On the day I write of, and on many other days that followed, I made it my regular practice to telephone businesses in my constituency and inquire how they were getting on.

From this I developed a very healthy respect for how businesses were determined to stick to the rules but also ensure their survival.

I rather suspect that this will be a lasting impression that I shall take away with me when this wretched pandemic is finally over.

I made calls too to the elderly and the lonely, because for them it was all particularly frightening.

Not that any of the above makes me special because I know many others in elected positions did exactly the same. Covid brought out the best in a vast number of people and this is something that we should be proud of and learn from in the future.

I sit here looking at my electronic diary, which I doubt is of interest or scandal to readers - except when you compare it with that of a certain Party (if you’ll pardon the pun) that we are reading about this very week.

Damn it - people were dying of Covid, women were giving birth alone, children couldn’t visit their grandparents in care homes, funerals were missed, weddings were cancelled, and health workers were going above and beyond the call of duty. And they had a ruddy party in the garden of Number 10! You have to be joking.

Had my lonely old people on the end of the phone known that at the time, I fear that some of them might have used stronger language than they were usually accustomed to.

At the time of writing, the Prime Minister is refusing to say whether he and his wife attended this party.

He also ducked turning up to answer an Urgent Question about it from Labour’s Deputy Leader, Angela Rayner. Give me strength. But I’ve probably said enough about this so I shall close on a different note.

As an elected representative, I want to thank everyone who has put the health and wellbeing of our collective nation above themselves.

I have spoken to and seen many who have been beyond brave and have worked incredibly hard during the past two years. It is because of you that we have been able to see glimmers of normal life again. Thank you - simple as that.

Jamie Stone is the MP for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross.

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