Looking back at summer 2020 it almost feels like an anomaly, compared to the hardship the world has been through. It showed us a sense of freedom and the idea that life was going back to normality, with restaurants, pubs and leisure activities finally opening. However, the fear and harsh reality of Covid-19 still persisted throughout society. Restaurants and pubs, suffering from closure during lockdown opened with new plans to help the economy. Museums that felt a significant impact due to Covid-19 began to resort to other platforms such as Twitter and also using online exhibitions (Kahn 2020). Holidays in Britain saw a surge of new visitors trying to enjoy the luxury of a holiday within British shores. This collection will show my perspective and experiences throughout summer 2020 and how I made the most of the freedom we were given by the government in our everyday lives. The impact summer 2020 had on me is the reason I chose this topic, it allowed me to feel like life was heading in the right direction, giving hope that Covid-19 was finally going away. But, freedom, wider social contact, and meeting family seems like a world away now, being brought back into another lockdown months later.
Exhibit 1. Shots
The shots have a hidden story behind the meaning, for many of us, summer 2020 was a time we could socialize and reunite with friends over drink and food. However, this was still restricted by a group of six only and in a safe distance away from others, but the small freedom the government gave was a blessing. But in my experience, this was taken for granted. Where I lived a new underground bar opened up and word started to go around this was the place to be. Walking into the bar I finally understood why it became so popular, it was not following Covid-19 rules. Masses of people from all levels of society gather in the downstairs of the underground bar, ignoring social distancing, cramped into every little corner. The impact this had on me was the realisation of how dangerous this could have been and it brought back memories of being unable to contact my nan. The one night out breaking the rules could have cost me the life of my family and this realisation kicked in almost immediately, prompting me to never go back to the bar.
Exhibit 2. Pizza
Every time I visit my favourite restaurant it brings me back many memories of August 2020 when the government introduced the eat out to help out scheme. This scheme was amazing especially for bargain hunters just like myself, as it entitled us to get 50% off our dinner on Monday, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. I thought this was a great idea I could finally go out and enjoy some food but for half the price is even better. But it was all good to be true. Queues upon queues of people lining up to grab the chance at a bargain, it was chaos, especially in the shopping centres. Luckily the first time I went out when the scheme was on, I had booked, but I was not always so lucky. It reminds me of the time I ended up waiting an hour and forty-five minutes for a table, would I do it again? Probably not. But even when I was on my lunch break at work, I struggled to even get lunch as many of the fast-food places were offering the discount too. Looking back this scheme had a lot more negative impacts than positive ones, as cases started to rapidly rise again, highlighting the chaos of the scheme.
Exhibit 3. Sea Glass
The collection of sea glass and shells have an important memory behind all of them as throughout summer 2020 visiting many of England’s beaches became one of the most exciting holidays for me. Each time I would visit a beach or a new location I would find either a shell or sea glass that took my eye, which I would later put into a small jar at home. This began to fill out pretty quickly, many beaches I visited I had to come back to again as they were beautiful and an escape from reality. One of my most favourite places was Hastings and it still is today. Many times, I competed against my friends at the mini golf on the seafront, which unfortunately led me to lose most of the time. Also, I created many memories through collecting my parent’s odd change to spend in the arcade, to only coming back with some small but funny keyrings and figurines. This type of entertainment is something I do not experience often but making the most out of the beaches and seafronts gave the imagination and escape of a holiday, something we all missed in summer 2020.
Exhibit 4. Name Badge
As insignificant as a name badge can be, working in retail the badge is the only sense of my identity in the shop. During summer 2020 the government decided to ease the lockdown and retail shops were now able to open their doors. For me, this was a drastic change from being indoors to now being surrounded by people of all ages to children and adults. It was great to get back to work but the safety behind the staff was scarce, consisting of a small plastic visor and gloves if needed. In my eyes, this was not enough to keep us secure and safe in the masses of crowds that would visit our store each day. Furthermore, working inside a shopping centre made it worse due to the crowds lining up to come inside. Many caused issues and disturbances leading to me calling security one too many times. Even though working throughout summer 2020 was stressful it also gave me a sense of normality and freedom, due to most people being on furlough I think many were excited to enjoy work again.
Exhibit 5. Cards
Being unable to spend time with your family was one of the most heartbreaking moments during the lockdown, but in summer 2020 we were able to socially engage in a small bubble with our family. The thought of having a big family dinner and BBQ during summer was a long wish away, but luckily, I still had the opportunity to see my grandparents. As my nan quotes “Covid-19 has made me feel lonelier than ever, as you forget how grateful you are to have a loving family” and her saying this emotionally hit me. Throughout summer 2020 after the loss of my grandad, I tried to see my nan as much as I could and we would spend a few hours a day playing cards and games in the garden. This small little activity of cards meant a lot to not only my nan but me as well as I could take the time to appreciate how lucky I was to still have her here and not suffering the consequences of covid-19. I think for many people over the summer it came a time where we appreciated family the most and took the time to see and look after one another, especially looking after the family member who lives alone. Like my nan, I am sure she will always be very grateful for me coming over for a few games of cards.
Visitors Challenge: Looking back at your own memories of summer 2020 what impacted your life the most? Did the restrictions stop you from enjoying time with your family and friends? And if you could go back to summer 2020, what would you change and why?
Kahn, Rebecca, 2020. ‘Locked Down Not Locked Out -Assessing the digital response of museums to COVID-19’ Impact of Social Sciences Blog, http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/104856/1/impactofsocialsciences_2020_05_08_locked_down_not_locked_out.pdf [Accessed 05 March 2021].