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If you’re in London, or anywhere in the UK for that matter, you’ll have heard that word “lockdown” many times in the past 24 hours. Because of that, we’ll probably start using it more, perhaps in circumstances where it doesn’t really fit.

Here are the common definitions of “lockdown” (a word which is a relative newcomer, by the way; it doesn’t even appear in my 1990 paper edition of the Oxford English Dictionary)

“The confining of prisoners to their cells, typically in order to regain control during a riot.

A state of isolation or restricted access instituted as a security measure.”

If we are in lockdown, we accept that someone else has power over us, if only for a short time. We are passive, we are not allowed to leave.  Sometimes those who hold the power are acting to keep us safe, as did the police yesterday, and sometimes they are acting to subjugate us, as in the case of the attacker.

I believe that there is a less visible type of lockdown. Following the IRA attacks on London in the early 1970s, I remember an Irish friend of mine at university telling me that he tried to speak as little as possible when he was out, and had tried to disguise his Irish accent. He spent most of his time with Irish friends. His very identity, his personality and his freedom to be a Londoner was on lockdown.

After yesterday, I hope that no Londoner feels that they need to remain in a state of mental and emotional lockdown. Let’s not waste any time in taking the initiative to do the opposite of lockdown. Let’s open up.

This morning, lockdown is over. I’m breaking out now to smile at and say hello to some random strangers.

Posted by Kay Scorah on 23rd March.