Until 12 days ago I lived in London and had no intention of moving back to NZ. I had a visa until July 2021. I had a stable job. I had a flat to live in. It was a normal Saturday.
Saturday 14th March –
I was a nanny for a cashed up family in Wimbledon and following the government releasing their official COVID-19 plan to do Sweet Fuck All, my boss made a point of telling me on Friday afternoon that my employment was secure. His wife and him would be working from home more. The boys’ posh school may close down. Then I’d be needed for longer hours. But this Coronavirus nonsense would blow over. Boris Johnson was right – we just needed herd immunity. Everyone will get it. But hey, we’re not at risk, and unless you are, we’re good. Keep getting on the tube to work. Wash your hands. Pick up toilet paper for us whenever you can please. Go to the pub. Maybe don’t go to the pub.
So my Saturday started normally.
I walked to my usual local yoga class, I went to lunch at the Italian restaurant next door with my best friend. Well that wasn’t normal, we shared a flat, but we never got to share a weekend. She had lost her job as a bartender on Thursday. The brand new multi-million pound bar they’d just finished fitting out couldn’t open. Nobody was going out. Hundreds laid off.
The Visas in our passports said very clearly “no recourse to public funds.” She would have to find a new job, surely that wouldn’t be too hard! We lived in London. She’d been in hospo her whole life – maybe this industry collapsing was a sign she should try something new. Could she try something new? Everything was new right now. Every day new cases and pseudo-scientists and BREAKING NEWS.
She had three weeks worth of rent saved to find a job.
After lunch we went for a stroll. We lived right on the Thames. The sun was out. In intervals. The daffodils had bloomed. London was beginning to come out of the winter cocoon. Windows were open; people still didn’t make eye contact, in fact, they went a little out of their way to avoid you. Nothing new here. No friendly ‘Kia Ora’ as we passed, but we’d made peace with that months ago.
That was Saturday.
We were halfway back to New Zealand by St Paddy’s Day on Tuesday.