AND so with apologies to Simon and Garfunkel, hello again, lockdown, my old friend, I’ve come to talk about you again. That springtime sound of silence is back, punctuated only by the rustle of toilet roll stockpilers and the gentling bubbling of sourdough starters.

Sequels, as a general rule, never quite match up to the originals. They tend to be darker (The Empire Strikes Back), worse (Another Stakeout), or if you’re particularly unlucky, darker and worse. That, I’m afraid, is where we’re at with Lockdown II: a Back to the Future II equivalent, except without the DeLorean to speed us to an alternative, pandemic free time.

November, let’s be honest, is not going to be easy. And let’s be honest, too, it’s unlikely to be just November, either. Given that Boris Johnson previously suggested in March that this would be over by May, and in July that normality would return by Christmas, you can probably take it as a given that we’re most likely in this latest lockdown until the new year. The alternative, unleashing a pent-up frenzy of Christmas shopping and socialising, would simply lead us back into lockdown in January or February.

No politician likes to be the bearer of bad news, I get that. But equally, offering up then dashing down hope doesn’t help anybody either. There are going to be further hard truths ahead that are better to be shared. A vaccine, even when it comes, is unlikely to solve the situation overnight: it will take months to administer, with the first drug off the block not necessarily the one that is the most effective. The ongoing effects of Long Covid will be something many will have to learn to live with.

This week, I’ve been reading a fascinating book called Pale Rider by Laura Spinney. It’s an account of the history of Spanish Flu and how this took over and changed the world from 1918-1920. I suspect I’m not the only one with a blind spot when it comes to this particular episode. Back when I did GCSE Modern History, Spanish Flu wasn’t even on the syllabus, despite its death toll of 50-100 million most likely outnumbering both World Wars put together. Yet as Spinney notes, there are over 80,000 books written on the First World War and barely 400 on Spanish Flu.

This might be because war better fits our sense of narrative, with a clearer beginning, middle and end. Spinney suggests pandemics suit a southern African style of storytelling, less linear and more circular. My takeaway from Pale Rider was that, yes, we will get through this, but it will take longer and be less clear-cut than currently advertised. Hang in there, people.