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Antonio Aromando

Retired Chef

I came into this world by the grace of god, just months after the start of the Second World War. I’ve seen and experienced many things in my lifetime, but I still don’t know what to make of this year, 2020. Being at home, I follow the news on UK TV, on Italian TV, in the paper, on the radio. It all sounds like something biblical with people struck down by the thousands.

My whole life, I have been used to meeting people face to face. As a chef for almost half a century, then retired, I pottered around town, met the boys for coffee, travelled with family, and had them round for dinner. It all stopped and we sat and watched people on a small computer screen instead. I couldn’t give my granddaughter or my grandson a hug through a computer - what was all that about?! Being excited, just seeing somebody on the other side of a window. It’s strange when I look back.

I’ve never sat down so much in my whole life, it made me ill. You don’t realise how active you are until you stop. I slowed down in a lot of ways. I even stopped shaving. My lockdown white beard made me look like Father Christmas. Nobody seemed as keen as I was, especially not my wife.

You’re vulnerable I’m told! Me, vulnerable! I fought cancer, how can I be vulnerable? Being vulnerable due to being under house arrest because of a virus, maybe. Being vulnerable because I can’t have my family around me when I need them the most, definitely. Reduced to walking Sammy, my four-legged friend, at 5am through fear of actually meeting somebody else. Having my shopping brought to me, instead of enjoying that weekly trip to the shop.

Social distancing, that’s no fun for anybody. One of the first times we ventured out was for my granddaughter’s 9th birthday. We had a party for her in my daughter’s garden. Tables at opposite sides of the garden, creative photos taken at a safe distance. It was strange and the best we could do at the time, but gave a warm feeling of happiness to everybody.

At the end of the day, nothing was cancelled nor lost to this virus, just postponed. We had an 18th birthday get together for my grandson, only 4 months late, and my granddaughter’s first holy communion party was scaled down. But they were both lovely. Fantastic feeling to have the family back together.

Here’s to a brighter and happier 2021 for everybody.

Cheers, Tony