• Momtaz Begum-Hossain

How I’m feeling about Coronavirus

It’s been less than a week since Britain started to take the Covid-19 outbreak a bit more seriously, though some would argue still not seriously enough. In that time I, like the majority of freelancers have had work cancelled. Those who know me will tell you that I am one of the busiest people they know. I’m the one that’s always doing something, always out and about, always travelling, barely at home and barely getting any sleep and now here I am for what feels like the first time in my life…with time on my hands.

But what should I do with it? I have a To Do list of course, but nothing on it seems urgent any more. All the ‘work and career’ related goals like finding a publisher for a book I’ve been writing, sharing the two new presenter showreels I’ve had made in the hope I’ll get an agent or bookings, pitching for articles, pitching for any kind of work…all of these things just seem so irrelevant right now. Instead I’m drawn to my personal and homelife. I’ve renewed Marie Kondo’s Spark Joy from the library 10 times and I’m finally starting to find I want to take some advice from it.

The first thing I did at the weekend was buy three big scrapbooks because I’m finally going to have a chance to put together the 100s of gig tickets, cinema tickets, leaflets, birthday cards, Polaroids and prints I’ve collected over the last five years and organise them properly.

I’ve bagged up things for charity shops and am looking at ways to make my interiors feel more homely as I’ve realised how much I’ve been neglecting my actual home. I’m usually out and about so much that I never just sit down and take it all in; but now I’m here indefinitely, I have an urge to sort it out.

Not that I’ve taken to self isolation yet. I’m one of those social distancers that is still out and about. Yesterday I went for a swim, picked up some books in the library, went to the shops, the day before I went to a café. I’m aware that some people are shocked by this type of behaviour. They think I’m not taking it seriously, I could be a carrier spreading the virus etc…but all of us have to make a decision about how we choose to live even if it sounds selfish to some.

It feels like we’re living under a Taliban regime: no live music, no cinemas, no socialising…in parts of the world people can’t leave their homes without permission and some can’t get out at all, but in all honestly I’m more afraid of turning into a couch potato than I am of getting the virus. If an actual government ban comes in I’ll abide by it but until then I can’t not go out and stretch my legs, breath fresh air, maintain some normality. Yes maybe I am wrong to be living like this but what is a ‘right’ anyway?

Researching advice, experiences, experts, seeing social media commentary…it’s vastly mostly made up of opinions and even when I'm presented with ‘facts,’ I’m still a living, breathing human with my own gut instinct and that, shock horror, is what I am following. I've done no bulk buying, don't own a face mask and haven't got a bottle of hand gel but regularly hand-washing with soap and water is doing me just fine.

I've been thinking a lot too about the people who are affected but go under the radar – we know about the zero hours workers who have no work, part time workers who are being laid off, small and large businesses with uncertain futures, travellers stuck.... but behind closed doors around the globe people are being affected in ways that are nightmarish, ways that their friends may never know. Like children not getting hot meals now they can’t access school dinners, people living with abusive partners who they can’t now get away from, those who are single and have no support system, people who are in secret relationships – I’ve been there. Telling my parents I’m going to the library but actually I’m meeting a boy, there’s no excuses now to go outside and my heart breaks about these scenarios and how people will deal with them over the long term because this is not short-term thing.

Yet on the flipside, there is without a doubt a new sense of community, one that was missing before or had been forgotten about. People, community and relationships are healing, as is the Earth. There are many places that without so much human footfall can now actually thrive naturally. Is this Mother Earth’s way of 'saving us'? I think so.

That is how I’m feeling about Coronavirus.


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