Once Upon A Time (a Covid fairy tale)

While I was doing my ironing on Sunday morning, I was watching Once Upon A Time on Netflix. I don’t watch a huge amount of TV but I do have a weakness for that show. I love a good fairy tale!

For those that have never seen it, it’s a fantasy drama spanning 7 series that alternates between a fictional coastal town in Maine called Storybrooke and various fantasy kingdoms. In the “real world” of Storybrooke the characters have all been cursed and have forgotten their fairy tale roots. None of them can leave Storybrooke. They are all trapped there by a curse that was cast by Regina, the Evil Queen.

In the episode (OK 3 episodes) I watched (it was a big pile of ironing) one of the characters said there would always be a place in the world for fairy tales as fairy tales brought one thing to people – Hope.

That resonated with me…….

Once upon a time, a very long time ago (OK it was 23 March 2020 but it feels like a lifetime ago) a horrible curse was spreading like wildfire through all of the lands. In the United Kingdom, the Prime Minister appeared on national television to read a proclamation (link to the transcript is below) and told all his subjects, loyal or otherwise, that he was placing the entire realm into Lockdown. Everyone was ordered to “stay at home”. All the shops were told to close, apart from those selling essential items like food and medical supplies. All the schools were closed indefinitely. Workers were told to work from their homes where possible.  Within a few short days, everything was closed down, locked down.

The people across the land were told that they could only leave their homes for one hour a day to exercise locally. They were allowed to leave to buy food or seek medical attention.

Meeting friends and families was outlawed.

Social distancing was introduced but no one was allowed within 2m of each other if they met in the street or in a shop.

The people were scared. Their lives had been turned upside down. They panicked! Terrified that this curse was going to scare the shit out them, they bought up all the toilet rolls for miles around (and the pasta, rice, flour, eggs, sugar and pretty much everything else!) The shelves in the supermarkets were empty.

Days turned to weeks and weeks turned to months. The hourly news bulletins were dominated with horror stories of how many subjects had been affected by the curse and how many had died from it.

Hospitals struggled to cope. Doctors and nurses were working to the point of exhaustion trying to care for those who fell ill.  In an effort to thank these unsung heroes, people stood on their doorsteps at 8pm on a Thursday evening to clap their hands. Week after week, come rain or shine, they clapped.

Children were encouraged to draw rainbows to display in their windows as a sign of hope.

During the summer months, some of the restrictions were slackened off a little. The schools and the “non-essential” shops were allowed to re-open (everyone could now buy new socks and knickers!) Restaurants and cafes could open for a few hours a day too. But while this was going on, the wearing of masks became mandatory in shops and indoor spaces. Social distancing was still being enforced and people could only meet in small socially distanced groups.

Hugs were still outlawed.

Understandably some of the subjects had become restless after all these long months of Lockdown and not all of the obeyed all of the rules all of the time.

The curse continued to spread and to mutate and to kill thousands of innocent people.

Scientists worked furiously in their towers to develop an antidote to break the curse. It became a race to see who could develop the most effective vaccine first.

As Christmas, a time for feasting with friends and family, approached there were promises that the Lockdown restrictions would be slackened for four days. There was joy among the weary subjects as they began to sense some hope for the Festive Season. They began to plan for reunions with their friends and families. But just days before Christmas, these hopes were dashed as the government proclaimed that the rules would only be relaxed for one day instead of four. The people were devastated. And in a second hefty blow to their already low morale, from Boxing Day the entire country was place back into full Lockdown and told to “stay at home” once more. Schools and shops closed. Cafes and restaurants closed. Meeting friends and family was once again banned regardless of whether it was indoors or outdoors.

But the scientists struck gold! A vaccine was created to help beat the curse. By January there were four different vaccines licenced for use in the land. These “magic potions” promised protection from the dreadful curse.

A plan was devised and the mass vaccination of all the subjects in the kingdom began.

At last, there was some real hope for people. Real hope that someday they might be able to return to their lives, their jobs and be able to meet up with friends and family. There was finally hope that hugs would once more be allowed.

To be continued….

It’s too soon to say when or if we’ll get our “and they all lived happily ever after.” For too many families across the land, life will never be the same again but for now we can hold onto that grain of hope that some sense of normal life is on the horizon.

As for me, well, I’m just looking forward to hugging my friends and family. It’s been a long year…..

The proclamation read out on 23 March 2020:-

Prime Minister’s statement on coronavirus (COVID-19): 23 March 2020 – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

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