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Life under Lockdown: A Christ Church Diary

Written by Jarnail Atwal, President of the JCR, posted on Tuesday, May 5, 2020

The first in a series of weekly blogs by members of the Christ Church community.

In hindsight, I was naïve to go down from Christ Church a month and a half ago in the expectation that I would be back within its walls by Trinity. Alas, days later, our country entered a national curfew, and I set upon a new way of living. I was in truth more prepared for this outcome than I admit – the brewing hunch that I might do well with a few more books, given the circumstances, explains a last-minute dash to the college library before leaving Oxford. Indeed, in a spell of misplaced optimism, my early days of lockdown were bedevilled with whimsical fantasies of reading books in the backend-of-beyond, perhaps like Thoreau or Ruskin (incidentally, the latter a Houseman himself).

The emergence of spring, seen in Buckinghamshire woodland. (Photo © Jarnail Atwal)Reality, of course, was far more staid, but equally not unpleasant. I paid more attention to the simpler things: cooking, gardening, going through the newspaper, cycling, and so forth. I took delight in the emergence of spring, the seas of bluebells, and the dawn chorus. And so, as we approached Noughth Week, life had become a gentle hum, and gradually my sense of resignation had turned to one of acceptance.

To those who have had the privilege of spending a term at Oxford, ‘gentle hum’ is not quite the cadence one would usually associate with its renowned intensity, and indeed I was initially daunted by the numerous virtual meetings, the steady stream of emails, and the growing pile of obligations. But despite the many features this remotely-conducted term has thus far shared with its conventional counterpart, the generous and accommodating spirit of my tutors and peers means I have found the burdens of term-time altogether less acute than I had anticipated. I have now latched onto whatever semblance of familiarity I can squeeze out of this experience.

I was moved by Oxford’s remote May Morning celebrations, a wonderful reminder that this is after all still meant to be a season of hope and rejuvenation. And while I dearly miss that city with her dreaming spires, I am ready to make the most of this period of restraint, and I will cherish the moment when we can be reacquainted!


(Photo © Jarnail Atwal) Click small image to view a larger version.