By George Fairhurst
I want to write about this unshakable sense that I and no doubt every other person in my region has at the moment: a sense of dread. Covid dread.
I had wanted to write about the Young Labour Elections when I messaged Demographica, thinking that my blunt thoughts on the internal elections would be a witty read with issues highlighted.
You can picture it now; references to the threats our online activists face, how we need to safeguard vulnerable members and controversially suggesting my findings from listening to the would-be people running our Youth Wing.
But after I sent it off, I just felt like it wasn’t what I wanted to say. I’m incredibly lucky to be able to write down my thoughts and have some (emphasis on some) people read them - I really have a charmed life and felt that I wasn’t using my voice for what I felt mattered.
So, I deleted the entire article.
I instead want to write about this unshakable sense that I and no doubt every other person in my region has at the moment: a sense of dread. Covid dread.
I like to pretend that I am a high-flying politico, offering spicy takes online like a left-wing Toby Young, but a lot of my time is spent staring at a street called Lands Lane in Leeds. It’s where my work is, my occupation whilst I linger in this weird purgatory that I and other graduates find ourselves in.
Inside my retail post, I feel so disconnected from the world that I am meant to be in. I’ve graduated from my degree as the lone graduate, I have some experience behind me and a desire to begin working. I don’t expect something to fall into my lap - to borrow a phrase from The Thick of It, I’m not ‘so dense that light bends around me’. Yet every day is the same process. Wake up in darkness, go through the same 4-5 job sites to find a role that requires 3 years prior experience for a 15 hour a week job in a city 20 miles away, get on the bus to my work, witness the same person smirk as they get on and take off their face mask (only pausing to have a cough), get to work, open the shop and then spend two hours by myself in a mostly empty Leeds city centre. All whilst fantasising about at least one of those rejection emails being one that holds these words: “We would like to invite you to an interview”.
"This process of discovering a total lack of opportunity to enter the world I want to be a part of, watching people just give up on the coronavirus restrictions and near-isolation has fuelled general fatigue for the world that I live in."
It’s not just myself finding it difficult to carry on as normal. A barista I chatted to had to deal with an irate customer flood their café by plugging the sink and running both the taps - after simply being told to wear a mask and use track and trace. My friends struggle through a disastrous university schedule, my girlfriend cannot see me anymore due to household mixing ban under the tier system and all whilst my Mum brings back stark warnings of the very real threat the virus poses from her work at YAAS (Yorkshire Air Ambulance Service).
I feel a combination of anger, helplessness, and isolation as I watch on through all of this yet I am one of the incredibly lucky people that has still got some form of employment. I have the ability to produce white blood cells and probably survive a clash with Covid, my girlfriend does not. My manager lives in fear due to a kidney condition whilst regular customers disregard his health by refusing to wear a mask, sanitise their hands or social distance.
"I feel a combination of anger, helplessness, and isolation as I watch on through all of this"
I am also lucky because this is all I have to contend with. Others have so much more to fight against as we head into this winter. Renters face the end of the evictions ban whilst unemployed people are left to survive on Universal Credit which the chancellor recently announced with no fanfare that they would cut by £1,000 a year for claimants.
I write this not to moan on an online publication, nor to depress people. My message to anyone reading this is simple: everyone is between a rock and a hard place; we can get through this together. My unfunny Twitter handle is @FabianFairhurst and my DMs are open. Even if you don’t know me, send me a message if you need someone to talk to; to vent to, to share memes with. It disrupts life, it is life, and it scares me, yet COVID 19 and its zeitgeist doesn’t have to be the above paragraphs of worry and anxiety. It can be where we come together and offer the helping hand so that we get through the winter ahead.
I would like to end it with one of my favourite quotes that I look to in times such as these, from Tolkien:
“I wish it need not have happened in my time," said Frodo.
"So do I," said Gandalf, "and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
Disclaimer: All views expressed in this piece belong solely to the author and do not reflect the views of Demographica as a company.