It's time we all put on face masks and counted our blessings: Christa Ackroyd

For me, this has been the best week since captivity.

People should wear face masks in enclosed spaces and where social distancing isn't possible. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
People should wear face masks in enclosed spaces and where social distancing isn't possible. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

And that is exactly how I have felt, captive. Yes, I love my home, all Taureans do. Or does the news of a new star sign now make me an Aries?

I certainly like to think I share some traits of the ram. I believe I am brave (usually), optimistic (struggled recently) and honest (always). But being patient isn’t my strong point, another Aries trait. Then again, I do like to go at things like a bull in a china shop so I still feel like a Taurean. No matter. Both patience and spontaneity have certainly been tested these past few months. You see how bad it’s got? I am reduced to discussing star signs. Anything to get back to the trivial.

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This week I felt the need to regain my freedom and a sense of me. If that is selfish so be it. Lockdown has been confusing and emotional, to say the least. Those who know me know I have the boredom threshold of a gnat, that I hate being trapped in a routine. And what else has lockdown been for many of us but the same routine day after day? And the feeling of being trapped.

Well this week, for the first time in a long time, I have tasted freedom of sorts. And I have loved every precious moment.

My week began bizarrely. Five days in bed with a sickness bug and the worst headache I have had in years left me worried I had caught the virus. So I decided to get a test. It was ordered online on Monday, arrived on Tuesday and was posted back the same day via one of three local designated post boxes. Within 24 hours I had an email telling us we were clear. Impressive efficiency I thought and worth a mention when so much of the Government’s handling of this crisis has been the subject of criticism.

Covid-free for now at least, we took advantage of using our family bubble to let the grandchildren inside our house for the first time since February. And it was bliss.

We drew pictures, baked cakes and rounded it off with an afternoon at Cannon Hall Farm which reopened like many businesses this week. Brilliantly staffed, perfectly signed and, with numbers limited, it felt totally safe.

Surrounded by the sound of children playing and the joy of nature was just the tonic after a week which saw us here in Halifax worrying about coronavirus hotspots in Blackburn, Bradford and Kirklees.

We have been lucky here because of the wide open spaces on our doorsteps, but that has led to complacency. Some people just do not get it, do they? Just because they haven’t been affected by the fear and misery this virus has caused, does not mean it isn’t the most life-changing experience for most of us.

Which brings me round to the Government’s compulsory use of face masks. I have seen and heard people moan that wearing them will mean they won’t be able to breathe. They have even provided ‘proof’ from America. Well, yes you can. It’s like everything new, it takes some getting used to, but as someone pointed out if you can’t cope with a mask you certainly won’t be able to cope with wearing a breathing machine if you end up in hospital.

Actually, I am not concerned about your annoyance and irritability. I care about the millions of people who now may dare to venture out, who may now feel confident enough to rejoin the human race. I, for one, will feel safer next week when we are all forced to wear them. Too many people are still believing it won’t happen to them.

So not for the first time I wore one this week, and it was worth every second of slight discomfort as I got up at the crack of dawn to partake in one of the most inconsequential events in the great scheme of things of the last five months (but the one thing I have been longing for, with the exception of a vaccine)... a haircut.

Yes, as I write this, I am enjoying my first haircut since February. Not ground-breaking in the great scheme of things, but I can literally feel the weight lifted from my shoulders. I know this sounds narcissistic, but I didn’t realise home much my lockdown mullet was weighing me down.

I have never considered myself vain. I like to look nice when the mood takes me, but, as my granny would say, it isn’t the be all and end all. My friends and family will tell you that I have never been afraid to go out looking like me – that is without make-up and in my scruffs. So much so that a woman in Morrisons once told me I was such a disappointment in real life!

Well, I hadn’t quite realised the toll life had taken on me during the past few months. Yes, I know I am lucky. There are many who will never see loved ones again and those who fear for their future as the job losses mount. But the single pleasure of having my hair cut and coloured has, apart from spending time with the girls, been the highlight of the week. If you excuse the pun. I feel almost normal again.

What’s more, judging by the comments on my Facebook post, it is the thing most of us have been missing, after family. And that includes the men. Even the comment from my other half that he had got his wife back didn’t cause rancour. So my mood for a few days at least cannot be altered.

Never has such an inconsequential week felt like such a cause for celebration. So don your masks, regain a little of the confidence lost and venture back out again. Even the sun has threatened to shine.

And as I have been taught, let’s continue to count our blessings. Life has changed a great deal for all of us this year, so let us celebrate the little things that we once never gave a second thought to. Friends, family, a day out and a much-needed haircut.

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