I am a photographer, filmmaker and writer based in Birmingham in the UK. This is my chronicle of the modern plague year(s), beginning in March 2020 with the start of the coronavirus epidemic in the UK.
A pile of limbs litter the floor of the wedding dress shop on the square, recently reopened after the final restrictions were lifted a month ago today, allowing weddings to resume as they were in the days before the pandemic. In the window, a teenage boy fondles the naked plastic breast of a mannequin he and his mother or aunt are in the process of dressing for a window display.
Walking south along the canal on my way to my appointment for my second dose, I pass a narrowboat heading north back to the city. The people on board are dressed in smart clothes and sat at tables, enjoying an intimate wedding reception cruise. It used to be a common sight on Saturdays in summer, but I haven’t seen a tour boat in nearly two years. I can’t help but smile.
The towpath is lined with foxgloves, campion, honeysuckle and columbine, all grown wild and tall in the midsummer sun, yet to be cut back from the water’s edge by the Canal and River Trust. I secretly hope they’ve forgotten this year and that the overgrown look is here to stay.
Sat in the wooden teahouse in the Japanese garden at the Botanical Gardens with the wind chimes sounding and the rain falling, Ed comments: “It’s like we’re in one of those Japanese art house films where everyone is miserable but nothing really happens”.
In Cannon Hill Park under a dull grey sky, a family of three spend the afternoon roller-skating in front of the shuttered and boarded MAC tracing lines up and down the path as the seagulls swoop low over the lake, hunting for scraps. The three figures are accompanied by many other local residents out for a walk, a jog, or simply to feed the birds and get out of the house for an hour or so.
I add three laps of the park to my own tally and weekly target of 50 miles / 80km before heading back up the steep hill on Priory Road, away from the heavy traffic and fumes on the main arterial roads in and out of the city centre. With the country in lockdown again, I can’t understand why there are still so many cars on the roads. Not everyone can be heading out to work, especially at 3PM, and everything else is closed.
On my way home I pass by the local budget Petri dish. Aldi is so busy that customers are lined up down every aisle, enjoying a good old fashioned British queue whilst they stock up on Friday night drinks and snacks, poorly fitting masks sagging to expose a nose, or pulled down low to protect a hundred chins from pestilence.