Shuna, age 53, Romney Marsh

CARM Chairman

  • What do your days and weeks look like during lockdown?

I go running three times a week. In such a rural location I can run for an hour without seeing a car on the road or a plane in the sky. My commute to work is pretty good these days –about five paces from bedroom to study. It was strange – I had this compulsion to redecorate and make the spare room into a study in February. I have never painted a room in my life so I’m not quite sure what came over me. My sister-in-law asked at the time if I was going to be working from home, and I told her “you never know”. A month or two later and here I am, working from home full-time and spending most of my day in my new study!

  • How different is this from your pre-lockdown life?

I am saving two hours a day driving to and from work and saving a tank of fuel each week as a result. That’s been great. I think the biggest difference is in the evenings and weekends – there is so much less to do, and I find it too quiet. In my role as a vicar I was so busy before with church meetings, services, and events. My husband is a farmer, so this is his busy time of year, I barely see him some days.

I haven’t wasted a single bit of food since lockdown started, which I am pleased about. I set myself the deliberate challenge to shop local and buy only what I need for the next few days. I think because I have had more time, I have been able to plan better. My other policy is not to queue! If I see a queue, I drive in and drive straight back out again. I intend to carry on these regimes after lockdown and only use the supermarkets for larger household purchases.

  • Who to you speak to most, and how often?

Nigel, my husband. Meg, my dog. Myself! And I have several elderly parishioners I call regularly who live alone and are shielding.

  • Have there been any funny/memorable/surprising moments? 

I have discovered some great small, quirky shops as a result of staying local and having more time. There was one shopkeeper who had the card reader strapped to a long pink spade so we could pay at a distance. Brilliant!

There was a very funny moment when my husband was mowing the lawn. I was sitting in the lounge and suddenly heard several loud expletives. I looked up to see him disappearing down a sinkhole as the lawn mower carried on without him for a few feet! It did make me laugh.

Less funny was a cockerel who decided to terrorise me. Wherever I was in the house, this cockerel would walk around and find me through the glass, then crow at the top of his voice. I would be on Zoom work calls and it didn’t matter where I went, this thing would find me. When it got to the point that it started attacking me and my old dog whenever I left the house, I had to go and have a word with the owners.

  • Have there been difficult moments? 

Most of my congregation don’t have the internet, so online services aren’t an option for them. Weddings have had to be postponed, which has been stressful for people. I was able to tell two couples just this week (end of June) that they can­ now get married in church, which was nice. Speaking to people who have lost loved ones… not being able to be with people they live at their end, or attend funerals, is very hard. It has been described more than once as ‘brutal’.

  • Have you learned anything about yourself, or others? 

I didn’t think running was physically possible pre-lockdown, but I am running 10 kilometres now! I find I am more confident about speaking up in meetings in this new world of online meetings. We are so much more focused, and efficient, and that suits me.

  • Have you experienced anything like this in your lifetime?

No, not really. I have been snowed in, and lived in remote locations, and ill health at one point in my life meant I was quite isolated for a time, but the world was still going on as usual outside. This is different.

  • What are you worried about/looking forward to most about lockdown ending?

I worry about the church. There hasn’t been any income for three months – how will it survive, financially? I worry about the elderly parishioners, who have been shielding, and for whom isolation may have become a way of life. I speak to a lot of people who are fearful of leaving their homes and find even the thought of going food shopping overwhelming. And young people, too, who have had their dreams and plans and aspirations cancelled. It is hard for them.

There have been some amazing acts of kindness, though, with people really looking out for each other. My hope is that kindness will go on, as lockdown ends.

I am looking forward to going to church, to the pub, to restaurants! Takeaways aren’t quite the same.

June 2020