"A Covid conversation I won't forget for a long time"

Sussex student Jenny Bathurst has been writing for us about pandemic life since lockdown began back in March last year.

Jenny Bathurst
Jenny Bathurst

She has now turned those columns into a book Lockdown Observed: Becoming an Adult Without Leaving the House.

The pandemic robbed Jenny of the chance to sit A levels. But she ended up with three As and is now studying journalism at the University of Brighton (Eastbourne campus).

Here is her latest contribution.

"Perhaps the British public are particularly friendly or maybe I just have a welcoming look about me, (not true, I have a terrible resting face) but it is a very regular occurrence for me to be approached by strangers. Not in a sinister or unsafe way, but often by elderly ladies at the bus stop looking for a chat. I am by no means opposed to this because due to the fact that I am 1) a Christian and 2) a journalist, I particularly enjoying meeting and talking to new people. Everybody has a story and a side to them that you could never draw from their appearance, so I always make an effort to show an interest to anyone kind enough to show an interest in me.

"The conversation often begins with them asking where I’m off to (probably sensible not to give your exact location) and then if I’m at school or college (“university, actually”) and then what I’m studying (journalism) which then results in raised eyebrows and a comment on the state of the media. However, this predictable chain of events will often lead to a discussion about the coronavirus pandemic, as most things do nowadays.

"I am often questioned on my beliefs surrounding the vaccine, the origin of the virus and the government’s decisions, questions which I will always ask back and receive a variety of responses. Being a nineteen-year-old I so often forget that every generation is experiencing the same pandemic, however their perceptions and experiences of it differ so greatly to mine. In my village yesterday I stopped to speak to a woman in her early sixties, in which we shared the exact discussion I have described above. I find it interesting how almost everyone I come across states their sadness that I and many others (often their grandchildren) have missed out on a crucial year of our young adulthood and education. It is true that this is something I have pondered often but not something I imagined others to ever even consider.

"However something I hadn’t come across until meeting the aforementioned lady yesterday was that young people are not alone in these feelings. When discussing her experiences over the past year and a half she told me that she has in fact felt ‘robbed’ of a precious time of her life, not being as young as she used to be. We both agreed despite being on differing ends of the age spectrum that life moves impeccably fast, and as a result losing that period of time felt unfair and cruel to her. I didn’t catch her name or much about her at all, but I don’t think I’ll forget this conversation for a long time. Covid-19 really has affected us all globally and personally, no matter our age, sex, social background or class."