Due to the high rise in infection rates across the country the UK government has been forced to tighten lockdown measures in the fight to slow down the spread of coronavirus as we move into the winter months.

As a result, at midnight on Friday over half of the UK population entered tier two Covid measures, including my home county and where I currently live – Essex.

Being in tier two simply means no indoor mixing with other households. This includes trips to the pub, restaurants or each others homes. It also requires households mixing in outdoor environments to be limited to a maximum of six people and hospitality venues are to close at 10pm.

Although this isn’t a complete national lockdown like we all faced back in March I have to admit I think this could have a much more negative effect on my mental health, especially living alone, which is why I have to take extra care of my mind.

How did I spend the first weekend in tier two?

After finding out a few days earlier that Essex would be in tier two as of the weekend I met some friends in a pub on Friday night until 10pm when I returned to my flat. At that point I didn’t really know what to think, compared to when the nation was put into lockdown and I instantly knew what had to be done.

Saturday was a very quiet day. I started off by watching the Merseyside derby, I think the football is keeping me sane to be honest. Despite not renewing my West Ham season ticket for the first time in 18 years, the games which have been on tv have been of the highest quality and the 2-2 draw between Everton and Liverpool was no exception.

On Saturday I also received a very special e-mail as I found out the result of my final assessment on my journalism course and I am now over the moon to say I am a Gold Standard NCTJ journalist.

Having been out of education since 2012 I found it tough applying myself at times but in the end I gave it my all and am delighted to have achieved the highest accreditation. There were a number of occasions during the course where it seemed like it was never going to happen, especially adapting to 100 words per minute shorthand, but it was all worth it in the end as I achieved what I set out to when the course started.

I returned to the pub for a few drinks on Saturday night, but this time it was a beer garden with heaters to comply with government regulations. It was a nice thing to do but it’s just not the same, especially as the winter months approach and the desire to sit outside reduces drastically.

As for Sunday I played an 18-hole round of golf first thing in the morning which is something I’m very happy to still be able to. However, similarly to sitting outside in a beer garden during the coming months, golf is a summer sport so the appeal to play in the miserable British winter just isn’t there.

The reason I wanted to play the round of golf early was because at 16:30 on Sunday Spurs hosted West Ham, a game between the team I love and my most hated team.

Over the years I have collected a mixed bag of memories from this fixture, winning 1-0 in West Ham’s first season at the London Stadium to all but end Spurs’ title hopes as well as becoming the first away team to score and win at the Tottenham Hotspur stadium.

First team to win at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium

But there is also the other end of the spectrum where I have been witness to a 93rd minute Gareth Bale screamer (One of the best goals I have ever seen live) to lose 3-2 at The Boleyn Ground and an away trip to White Hart Lane to see West Ham lose 4-1.

I was quietly optimistic ahead of this fixture with West Ham playing well and picking up results. Spurs to their credit were also playing well and put six goals past Manchester United in their last outing.

There is no way I can sit here and say I was still confident of picking up any points in the 82nd minute with Spurs 3-0 up, with all their goals coming within the first 15 minutes.

Even when the score was 3-2 I thought it was more likely that Spurs would score a 4th on the counter, which they nearly did through Bale. Then, in the 94th minute, virtually the last kick of the game Manuel Lanzini scored an absolute screamer from 30 yards out to snatch a point from the jaws of defeat.

A goal of the highest quality

I’m usually quite reserved in my celebrations watching a game at home, especially by myself, it’s usually limited to a cheer and a few claps of my hands. But when that goal hit the crossbar and post en route to the back of the net I was sent into a rapturous celebration around the open plan kitchen/living room in my two bed flat, I was well and truly consumed by the emotions.

All in all it was a very good weekend all things considered….

… and then Monday happened.

I was on such a massive high from the way the Spurs vs West Ham game finished that I woke up with such a huge smile on my face. I’ve watched the equalising goal back so many times and it reminds me of why I love football.

One thought that has lingered on my mind since is ‘What I would give to have been in the away end of a sold out Tottenham Hotspur Stadium when that goal flew in.’

And it’s when I have those thoughts that I realise how fed up I am with the whole situation. I don’t for one second question the logic or need for these restrictions and I do want to emphasise that fed up is how I’m feeling, nothing more, nothing less.

That said it’s not knowing how long life is going to be like this that makes me anxious about it, and I know that’s a feeling shared by a lot of people.

An eerily quiet Jubilee Walkway at lunchtime

I think the only way to prevent the anxiety taking over is to take each day as it comes. I’m in a very fortunate situation where my Monday to Friday routine hasn’t changed under tier two restrictions. I’m still able to work as I was before it was enforced and the gyms remain open so I can get my three sessions a week in.

As for weekends, the one just gone is about as good as they can be under current guidelines, so all I can really do right now is keep them going in a similar way.

There’s no doubt that this is going to be a tough winter, especially with the festivities such as Halloween and Christmas parties as well as fireworks displays all a right off for this year.

But taking each day as it comes and carrying on to count my blessings with the situation is all I, as well as any of us, can do during a time of such uncertainty.

Essex moves into tier two Covid measures – how will this affect me mentally?

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