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clare hastings the indytute

by Clare Hastings (Head of Most Things)

The time is approaching when we will be allowed to go, ever so slowly, stumbling and blinking into the light. For some the end of lockdown will herald a need to charge out from behind the barricades, with much whooping and waving of arms. For others who have been huddling in pyjama bottoms, the colours of freedom will be more nuanced and sunglasses will be required as they emerge in a slower, more measured way. During this whole debacle the one thing we have come to realise is that society as a whole is worth engaging with. We had to be forbidden to go out, in order to understand how vital freedom is - even the smallest daily encounters contribute to the overall joy of living. Our society and social life is built upon communication with relative strangers on a daily basis.

A long year ago, when many offices had given way to the hot desk, the day might have started with a few words at reception. Ordering a flat white you probably noticed your regular barista had added a new tattoo to the sleeve.  Shops provided a doorway meeting point and casual texts were less about Netflix and more about future plans. Conversations with the butcher, baker and the nice lady who sells vintage in the market were all vital components in making us feel engaged and included. The Ocado driver, who although very much appreciated, is not quite the same.

Just by putting a date in the diary you can start to look forward in every sense of the word. To live like a ‘normal’ again.

We have come to realise that it actually isn’t healthy to be with our children 24/7, the same applies to our partners. Absence makes the heart grow fonder - and while some may have counted their blessings, most of us will open our arms and embrace our relatives. Of course they are trying sometimes, but families, be they loved or loathed, are a part of who we are, and we never foresaw a time when they would be left standing vampirically on the front step, or worse in another county or country.

Everyone will have their own list as to what the end of lockdown means to them, but as endless winter looks like coming to a close, we can clamber over the wall, and relish the freedom to be ourselves again and enjoy the simple things that life offers.  It is certainly time to try and grow our conversations, which have been reduced to near senility with the lack of physical engagement.

Where to start on the journey back to the new normal? Shops seem as good a place as any. Just browsing through the rails will be a tonic. Hairdressers, nail bars - a coffee - sitting down! Restaurants, anywhere.  A bar, the city, the sea, sports or just gathering around a table IN SOMEBODY’S HOUSE……. Real life experiences in theatres, a hotel bedroom, bed and breakfast in any county other than our own, friends gathering around a table IN SOMEBODY’S HOUSE (worth mentioning twice).....

This is the stuff that dreams are made of…….


FURTHER READING by Clare Hastings

Why everyday is Mother's Day >


  • Hoxton Hotel
  • Selfridges
  • Soho House
  • Stella Magazine
  • Stylist
  • Time Out
  • The Times
  • Press