Shelley-Anne Salisbury: Seeing the bigger picture as vaccine rolls out

Shelley-Anne Salisbury, Hampstead Garden Suburb

Shelley-Anne Salisbury has been enjoying her local walks - Credit: Shelley-Anne Salisbury

Walking across the Heath Extension this time last year, I paused at the sight of the slate-grey spire of St Jude’s rising in the distance from Central Square, where the first clod of earth was upturned to create the Hampstead Garden Suburb.

It looked particularly majestic against the cold but clear blue sky and I WhatsApped a photo to a friend. “The Suburb in winter,” I typed. “Sublime,” she replied. It was the start of 2020 and we were all blissfully unaware of everything the year would bring.

So many aspects of our lives have changed since then. Social distancing has forced us to exist in a two-metre vacuum. We circumnavigate one other, carefully negotiating the space between us in fear of getting too close. As we spend disproportionate amounts of time at home and interact via our various screens, we have all become rather insular.

We find it difficult to look out towards the horizon and see the bigger picture, the panoramic vistas.

Roll forward a year later, to January 2021, and on another walk across the Heath Extension, St Jude’s spire came into view against a similar blue sky. I WhatsApped another photo to my friend “The Suburb in a Covid-winter,” I typed. “…Still sublime,” she replied.

I stopped for a moment to study St Jude’s spire and the other buildings making up the familiar Suburb skyline, always more visible at this time of year with the trees stripped bare in their winter state. It dawned on me this view has remained unchanged, constant, proof that some aspects of our pre-Covid lives might not be altogether lost after all. Perhaps we were all just too busy concentrating on our immediate surrounds, demarcated by those two metres?

With the vaccine here at last, there is now a real prospect of winning the war against coronavirus.

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Even as we enter a third national lockdown, knowing it will be some time yet before we can resume "normal" life, maybe, just maybe, we can allow ourselves, albeit tentatively, to look out towards the horizon and reacquaint ourselves with that bigger picture, those panoramic vistas?

  • Shelley-Anne Salisbury is co-editor of Suburb News.