Teenage Focus!

Staying positive - Gregory Sidaway

A February morning breaks, gloomy and crisp, over Pershore. At seven o’clock, my alarm springs into action, buzzing the bedside table until my heavy, limp hand flops over it and tries blindly to turn it off. It is half term and today is the day: a four day trip to Dublin awaits. I stagger downstairs, eat cereal, take a quick Covid test just to be sure, go upstairs to take a shower – Hang on. Rewind. I lean closer and rub the sleep out of my eyes. My heart drops. A second red line grins at me on the Covid test; I almost expect it to say: “Going somewhere? I don’t think so.” I had used the free lateral flow tests provided by school for so long – always getting only one line, a negative result – that I began to wonder what the point was of even having space for a second line. Now, I knew. Now, nearly two years after the first lockdown, Covid had finally reached me, nodded to itself, thought: “It’s comfy here” and set up camp. A PCR test later that day confirmed it. Realising what this meant for the holiday, I probably said something along the lines of: “Oh bother, isn’t that a nuisance?” Something similar to that.

Yes, so I must apologise, fellow reader, as I had intended to give you an article on adventures I would have had in Dublin. Instead, I am under house arrest, self isolating – but enough about that. When Covid hit, I wrote a series of articles documenting the first lockdown, and I did a similar treatment for the US 2020 Presidential Election. Continuing the trend, I must mention that – as of writing this – Russia invaded Ukraine yesterday (24th February) and, while this isn’t the chirpiest of news, I feel it’s significant to include here. There may be some readers who remember the Second World War, and many more of you will remember the division between Western and Eastern Europe during the Cold War. I don’t, but I think my generation still appreciates the enormity of the current situation. It’s incredibly surreal to see apps we use to film cat videos, pranks on annoyed mums, and shopping centre flash mobs, now filming troops marching across grey, bleak terrains, or tanks rolling through countryside set to pop music. The Telegraph has named it the “first TikTok war”, with social media playing a key role in documenting the conflict. On Snapchat, there is already a “Stand for Ukraine” filter, which could actually be really useful in spreading awareness amongst the public. The Medieval times had heralds reading scrolls, and World War One had Kitchener jabbing a stern finger at us – but now social media has given Kitchener a break to rest his arm, becoming the next influential source of communication during conflict.

My hope is that by the time you read this, you pause for a moment, scratch your head and then think; “Oh! That was ages ago, wasn’t it?” My hope, for once, is that this becomes old news and that somehow a solution is found. If, by any chance, there are any readers who are from – or have connections to – Ukraine, I want you to know that we are all on your side and we cannot begin to imagine how you must be feeling right now.

In the meantime, I’m still here, being a health hazard. Spring is well and truly here, thank goodness! Fingers crossed, brighter days are on their way. I hope everyone is staying positive (and testing negative).