Lockdown is causing mounting tensions in the UK, as surveys show people have not only drunk more and gained weight but turned on neighbours flouting restrictions.
According to TV broadcaster Kirstie Allsopp, lockdown has turned Brits into a nation of snoopers: “Every day somebody accuses me of something I haven’t done!”
The end of lockdown and the ‘new normal’ are increasingly visible on the horizon– some pubs are serving takeaway pints, Mr Whippy is being enjoyed on beaches– and Brits may be planning for life outside the work-from-home bubble, but they won’t be giving up the new national hobby easily: snooping. Occasionally even a little light dobbing. To the council, to the police or on social media.
The problem with ‘lockdown hawks’ is that this type of behaviour strengthens the feelings of those who resent lockdown, while not being at all helpful to the many in the middle who are doing their best, but whose circumstances do not quite match any scenario imagined by either their neighbours or the rule-makers. Maybe too many ‘non-essential’ workers enjoying their furlough holiday have too much time on their hands? With no intellectual pursuits to occupy them, what else is there to do apart from wandering far and wide like robots or spying on their neighbours? However, spying on others is far from new in Britain. The Department for Work and Pensions has been receiving innumerable dobbing-in phone calls for decades from people positive they’re better informed of their neighbour’s medical or disabled condition than it is.
The net-curtain-twitching phenomenon seems part of the national character. An ugly part. But it’s not all bad news. According to YouTube, people are watching instructional videos more than ever as they seek new skills during lockdown. Videos with titles like “how to” and “step-by-step” are being viewed for 65% longer than this time last year. And the UK’s top online shopping searches during the months of March and April included free weights, lawnmowers, plants, seeds, hair dye- and women’s lingerie (don’t ask!).
Nora Johnson’s psychological crime thrillers ‘No Safe Place’, ‘Betrayal’, ‘The Girl in the Woods’, ‘The Girl in the Red Dress’, ‘No Way Back’, ‘Landscape of Lies’, ‘Retribution’, ‘Soul Stealer’, ‘The De Clerambault Code’ (www.nora-johnson.net) available online as an ebook (€0.99;£0.99), i-book, paperback & audiobook. All profits to Costa del Sol Cudeca cancer charity