I thought I’d take a minute to backlog a few pieces I had written earlier this year for my school magazine. This one is about lockdown and its effects on the teenage generation; it’s a bit sappy (it was a school magazine, alright) but it was a fun one to write. See if you can spot all the references (they took a lot of effort to fit in). The other archive piece should follow tomorrow; I’ll try and get some new main articles out soon.
Call it the day our music died; on March 20th, 2020, in a move not made in over 130 years, the UK government cancelled all GCSE and A level exams for this summer. The news was hardly unexpected; the exponential spread of covid-19 had already caused the government to shut all schools as potential viral hotbeds that Wednesday, and most universities had already closed their doors. But what this move effectively did is leave hundreds of thousands of teenagers and schoolchildren totally aimless— the focus of their lives, the goal of years of their work, had been swept from underneath their feet.
But though our summer swelter will be endured, for the most part, indoors and separated from our friends, we haven’t let that crush our spirit. Facing indefinite months in isolation, I spoke to my friends about how they were going to pass the time; I was shocked to find many already had plans in place, from learning Chinese flutes, to picking up new languages or running every day. I resolved to attempt to emerge from lockdown somewhat prepared for University and learn to cook (I can report that so far, zero kitchens have been destroyed in the process). I’d honestly expected most people to give up and sunbathe (an equally tempting option), so seeing them plan to put their time to good use was heartening.
But not only have we bettered ourselves; many have made efforts to emerge from their fallout shelters to better their community, too. Within days of lockdown beginning, teenagers (and even some teachers) had banded together through social media to nominate each other for a “Run 5, Donate 5” campaign where over £5.6 million was raised for NHS charities. And this was only the start; through making masks, social media campaigns, and volunteering to deliver shopping or even just call those who are, unfortunately, spending these months alone, our weeks divided as a school community have been spent making a difference at home, wherever we may be.
And though we’re split apart, these events have brought our nation, and our world, closer together. I now speak to my grandparents and cousins more than I ever did before (for the most part through the now-ubiquitous online quiz); neighbours seem friendlier, and my friends less far away. I suppose that lockdown, more than anything, has brought us all together, because we’re all in it together. In a way, right now we all are in one place, facing the problems of social isolation, economic insecurity, and fear of the virus; but in sharing that experience, we’ve all become that bit closer to one another. Of course, those of us who go to King’s are in a much more privileged and safe position than most in the midst of lockdown; but I think that this situation has given us space to reflect and build empathy and awareness for those less fortunate than us. I hope that this crisis will indeed give us time to start again, as a generation and as a country, and build a more understanding and united world.
For many of us, lockdown has taken away the ends of our school careers, and some of the most important summers of our lives; holidays and gap years have been postponed, and any whiskey (and indeed rye) and singing will have to be enjoyed with our parents, not our friends. In March, when this all began, I was worried a community usually so active and connected would end up becoming isolated, depressed and broken. Yet what the past few months have created is a sense of unity and responsibility; though our exams and our school, for the moment, may be gone, we have found new meaning in embracing the situation we’ve been placed in. And though the courtroom is indeed adjourned as to when we will be able to see each other again, and our music may have gone quiet for now, it is anything but dead; to hear that, you only need listen every Thursday.