My neighbour’s new dog- Ruby, has started barking all hours throughout the night. The yelp of a puppy beginning to find her voice, drifts into my ear past midnight and through the early hours of darkness. Some nights she does not stop and continues throughout the day. They say pets have a sixth sense, that they smell things, see things and predict things that await us. I pause and divert my eyes away from my phone screen at 1am, listening to her bark blending in with the sound of the night. The nights are quiet now, apart from the odd Deliveroo cyclists you can hear peddling away in the cold, hurrying to feed the unquenchable midnight hunger of a mid- 20s renter, who had given up on their life and started gorging Uber Eats and Deliveroo for the past year. A £10 meal marinated with high fat content, salt and oil- their salvation through this year of living with a broken promise of a 2021 that hasn’t quite sufficed the way it should have.
Maybe Ruby, senses the aura of the people, the energy of the distraught, the boredom that inhabits us all. The loneliness, the uncertainty, broken hopes and plan. The poverty of our minds and the state that has engulfed us. Maybe she feels, sees or hears the spirit of the tragic souls that have all perished from Covid 19 – less than 500 metres away from me, down at the morgue of The Royal London. Maybe she sees a future less optimistic than the one we envision. What if it is a sign of warning to our overcompensating faith? Over 100’000 dead in the UK and over a million deaths globally, yet we rest our faith on the vaccine, even as new mutated strains are being reported.
I shudder to think, if the howls of animals are predicting of a worse yet to come or if it brings glad tidings. But the Cows prolong their Moos before a plague, the Crows circle the dead before they die. The Rooster sings at the sign of sunrise. Maybe its my imagination but the yelps of this dog, is not one that sounds like the beckoning of a new dawn. I look back at my screen, mindless hours of videos that do not make sense anymore. Short clips feeding into my nostalgia, that provide a sense of ease and comfort. Not wanting to sleep and questioning why I wake up? Only to turn around in my bed to switch on my computer 10 minutes before my time to sign in for work. Staring at the abyss of MS Teams and Zoom, talking to colleagues with their filtered profile pictures from their heyday, that doesn’t resemble anything of what they are or have been for a long time. Talking to them, as if to say life is ok. As if I don’t yearn to go out and see, feel and touch people.
The black coffee sitting on my desk next to my screen, only reminds me of the small things. How much I miss walking up and buying that coffee with a ‘Hello’ to the Barista from Costa. The walk, the pavements, the chatter, the traffic, the noise, pollution and the people. Somehow sitting at the desk of your home, behind the screen, with the noise of your children shouting in the back as they remote learn their way through education. You try to convince yourself first and then your invisible work colleagues, that you are fine, that you are ok and better days will return. I convince myself I will be back to feeling and look fit when the gyms re-open, that a couple of measly pulls up and a 2k run every other day is enough to keep me going.
The public are more cautious now, even the Government is, there is no urgency to open everything again. The dire talks of how a second lockdown would have destroyed the economy, doesn’t seem to have surfaced- we are in a third lockdown. We have been in lockdown for nearly a year, slowly killing our souls to protect our physical self and of others. The worst that had been predicted hadn’t come to materialise or maybe they have, we are yet to see it.
I wonder what the barking of a dog at 3am means? I swipe to the next video, the sounds of footsteps of my neighbours’ creep into my room like they are right next to me- ghosts walking inside my house. Lockdown has ruined time, walking around at 3am is not any more unusual than walking around at 3pm. Old pipes of our heating system creak loud, the type of sounds you get used to along the frost and rain tapping against the window.
My eyes get tired watching films and series, where people lead normal mask free lives with closeness and affection, whilst our lives are so different. The barking still haunts me and yet it soothes me too. Even if it is a warning of a danger yet to come- the fear and uncertainty of what it might bring, makes you feel alive at a time when we are anything, but.