Letters from Cardiff in lockdown: Steve Lucas

Today’s instalment for the Letters from Cardiff in lockdown series comes from our old pal, Steve Lucas. We’re looking for your stories, so please contribute to Letters from Cardiff in lockdown

I sat before the television and watched a new breed of uber-confident, media-trained, silver-tongued, blue-suited, private-schooled politicians as they took turns to wobble along a daily tightrope, trying to show us that they could strike the right balance within the shifting weight in the pole of “the science” without succumbing to the irresistible pull of the gravity of the financial system.

I watched the daily death toll rise like a barometer of fear and struggled to put the grim statistics into some kind of meaningful sense and context.

I watched nurses hold iPads in the air for semi-conscious patients, like ring girls signalling the end of another round in the fight against an enemy too tiny to see.

I felt the sadness on our streets as smiling, considerate people stepped into the road to maintain a respectful distance from each other.

I noticed the faint, ghostly scent of sanitiser on the damp plastic handles of shopping trolleys.

I saw the Holy Grail of our ‘30 hours a week of free childcare’ swept away from us, while my working hours increased and my partner started working from home.

I felt appreciative but uncomfortable when someone stopped me and thanked me for the key work I was doing.

I saw our eldest son fill his wheelbarrow with cardboard boxes and play a new game where he became a new superhero called DELIVERY MAN.

I felt an eye-glistening relief that the COVID-19 virus didn’t seem to show much interest in meddling with the physiology of children as it hitchhiked its way around the world.

I struggled to stay connected to people as I uneasily joined in with the stuttering technological chaos of Facetime and Zoom calls, then wrote letters by hand, and completed my counselling sessions by telephone.

I listened as people began to ask more questions about our whole way of life, our rushing around, our ways of working, our monetary system, and then our racial equality.

I heard Orwellian-style concepts like ‘the second wave’, ‘air bridges’ and ‘the new normal’ and wondered what the implications might be.

I regretted not buying a second hand copy of The Plague by Albert Camus when I saw it on the shelf in Troutmark Books in the Castle Arcade way back in February.

I savoured the small, positive things: the quiet cycle ride to work, the cleaner city air, and the chance to spend more time together as a family.

I waited in a queue outside the Pettigrew Bakery for 20 minutes just to buy a loaf of bread and a Chelsea bun because everyone else in front of me seemed to need a cup of coffee.

I waited and I waited and I waited some more until I finally saw Liverpool win the Premier League.

I wrote a haiku (as suggested by Peter Gaskell) which went:

 

Spring stops everywhere
Rainbows mask isolation
Time leaves us alone

 

I missed meeting up with friends, going to yoga classes, playing 5-a-side football, walking in hills and forests… in other words the things that help to keep my mind from sneaking off to the craters on the dark side of the moon.

I kissed my son when we walked around the park and he asked me, ‘Have all the germs gone now, daddy?’ and I said, ‘Not yet, son.’

I went to Pontcanna fields and observed the thoughts I had like: TAKE YOUR LITTER HOME; DON’T JUST LEAVE IT NEAR THE OVER-FLOWING BIN – WHAT’S WRONG WITH SOME PEOPLE?!

I didn’t watch any boxsets, didn’t paint the house, didn’t go jogging, didn’t walk any dogs, didn’t write a sitcom, didn’t go on social media, and definitely didn’t drive to any castles to test my eyesight.

I carried on with life as best as I could.

And I realised

That despite my perception

Of my suffering

I am actually pretty lucky.

And I also feel more grateful

For the things that I have,

Rather than sorrow

For the things that I haven’t,

And that as human beings

We are adaptable,

Beautiful

And maybe

A little bit stronger now

Than we were before,

And that perhaps

There is nothing

In this world

More important

Than kindness.

***

Steve Lucas is a busy dad, works in social care and currently plays the role of a burnt out, reclusive rock star. Please don’t follow him on social media or in the street. Big thanks to Steve, the rock’n’roll poet, who wrote his first piece for We Are Cardiff back in 2010, ten years ago!  

Want to write for Letters from Cardiff in lockdown? Find out how here…

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