editor in chief, British Vogue
After lockdown, I’m most looking forward to seeing my family for Sunday dinner. We’re a close-knit family so being separated has been a nightmare — although we have a nonstop group on WhatsApp, which has been going for years but has become particularly active during quarantine. My sister Akua always cooks for the six of us at her house in Chiswick — a combination of a traditional English Sunday roast with all the trimmings, with jollof rice and Ghanaian stew.
It’s a lot of strong personalities around one table, but it’s the most joyful atmosphere. I can’t wait to get back to it.
Like many people around the world, my life was interrupted by the lockdown. My father died at the end of January and our family had to postpone his traditional post-burial memorial service, which was scheduled in my homeland of Zimbabwe for this Easter. My mother, sisters, brothers and his grandchildren have been scattered in our grief, and it will be wonderful to reunite to honour him properly.
managing director, IMF
It was Maya Angelou who said “I sustain myself with the love of family”. I know this is so true for me — but my family is on another continent. Virtual hugs and kisses only go so far. When we speak on Skype, my granddaughter asks me when I will give her a cuddle “for real”, and it’s heartbreaking that I have no good answer for her.
So for now it’s virtual hugs only and what I look forward to most — I cannot wait! — is to get home for the real thing.
I will need more than an end to the national lockdown to do what I miss most. I need two functioning airports, safe flights, testing capacity and the word quarantine to be forgotten. My current definition of freedom is to board a flight to Beirut to be reunited with my father, who’s been isolating on his own there for more than two months.
I imagine the reunion as a long weekend, in and out, to reassure myself that he is safe and well. But I know there’s little chance of that in the coming weeks, probably even months, unless I’m willing to spend four weeks in quarantine. In the meantime, reunion will be confined to our new tradition: the 5pm Saturday family Zoom call.
Yuval Noah Harari
Post-lockdown, I am of course looking forward to finally meeting family and friends in the flesh, rather than as online Zoombies. But funnily enough, I also look forward to some meditative self-isolation. In recent weeks I have been working harder than ever. My body was isolated, but my mind was all over the place.
The impact of this crisis will be enduring, continuing long after the lockdown is lifted. It will be a marathon more than a sprint. So it’s crucial to avoid burnout. And it’s even more crucial to break the chain of infectious thoughts, and take time off for some uncontaminated reflection. Ironically, the Vipassana centre where I usually go to self-isolate from the hustle and bustle of daily life has been closed throughout the lockdown. Once it reopens, I’ll be shutting down my computer and heading over there for a much-needed period of mental quarantine.
president, European Central Bank
We have all had to adjust our work-life balance during lockdown. But I did not know that, by myself in Frankfurt, I would not see my family members for nearly 10 weeks, other than on my cell-phone screen. When I saw my 14-month-old grandson kiss my son’s phone to wish me goodbye, I knew what I missed most . . .
first minister of Scotland
I am looking forward most of all to meeting close family and friends who I haven’t seen since the start of lockdown. So when it is safe and possible to do so, I will be meeting up with my parents, as well as my sister — one of the many thousands of health and care workers who have been on the front line of this crisis — and my niece and nephews.
We have all got used to keeping in touch virtually, but no amount of technology can properly replace the simple human contact that we have so long taken for granted.
This Sporting Life
chief executive, Lloyds
Last Monday evening I was able to play tennis at Queens for the first time since the lockdown was implemented. Doing sport is an integral part of my routine and of my physical and mental wellbeing, so I keenly felt the loss of my intense weekly singles matches, to the point that I decided to run early every morning for 5km during the lockdown.
That was very helpful, in spite of running not being a favourite activity of mine. But the pleasure of playing tennis again, outside and with beautiful weather, was immense.
I’m looking forward to being one person in a flow of many, and navigating a crowd’s eddies and currents. I dream of sitting in the window seat of a café on a busy corner in Cork with a pot of Earl Grey and a slice of lemon, and watching dozens of unknown faces per minute pass by. I miss overhearing (well, eavesdropping on) the dialogues of strangers, and guessing at their backstories and inner lives.
I’m looking forward to hugging people I’ve missed. I’m eager to see what contingencies of coronavirus become permanent features. Can we capture some of the silver linings of lockdown, and turn them into long-term silver? Finally, football. I’ve supported Liverpool all my life. Need I say more?
Even as the horrors of the pandemic envelop the outside world, our family, usually dispersed across continents, has found new joys sheltering from it; we have attempted exotic recipes, put together challenging jigsaw puzzles, laughed at silly sitcoms.
Yet, though the end of the lockdown will shred our privileged cocoon, I look forward to it. I’ll savour what I took for granted — a competitive squash game or coffee with a friend — and bring forward plans I thought I always had time for. Serendipity — unplanned conversations at work, spontaneous trips, unexpected invitations — will return. Life unmediated by Zoom is surely something to look forward to.
It’s no secret that I am a huge sports fan but, like almost everything else, the public health crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic has forced Americans to go without sports. While some professional leagues are slowly planning to reopen, our nation’s young amateur athletes, including my kids, still face cancelled practices, games, tournaments, and seasons.
As we begin to gradually reopen the country and return to some sense of normalcy, ensuring that our young athletes can get back on the field safely must be a priority. I know firsthand just how much they miss being on the field — and I know there are millions of parents out there who miss being their number one fan.
former chief executive, Credit Suisse
Like all of us, there are many things I missed during the lockdown. I remain impressed by the amazing job done by health workers during this tragic period. However, I am afraid that I am like millions of football fans around the world and, as a long-suffering Arsenal fan, I have missed watching my beloved team play.
So I will go to the first Arsenal game I can attend and who knows, I may even be able to convince my friend and fellow countryman Didier [Drogba] to come with me.
actor, screenwriter, director
What I wouldn’t give now to be able to nip over the road to the King’s Head Theatre for a pint and sit among that press of bodies waiting for a show to begin, letting the chatter and the atmosphere wash over me. There’s simply no substitute for the live experience and that’s what is hanging by a thread right now. Venues like the King’s Head are a vital resource, not just for actors, writers, directors and technicians, but for the community nourished by them. The buzz from the place is matchless, spilling out into the street. The hum of life.
In the august context of the FTWeekend, I feel some pressure to frame my future liberty in cerebral terms — a book festival, museum, travel to an exotic place. But in truth the moment that will mark the end of this for me will be when I can once again see two men who were a regular part of my life until lockdown.
They have been there at key moments — my wedding day, the first ever haircuts of all three of my sons as babies. Their names are Atul and Neil and for the last 17 years they have not only cut my hair but seen me through milestones personal and professional, only occasionally taking me to task about something they have seen or heard on the news. I now realise I have pretty much measured my life in visits to them. Why “them” rather than just one person? Pure logistics, dependent on which part of town I can get to. But it does mean I sometimes feel like a woman with two boyfriends. Not that I would know, of course, how that feels. Anyway — cut and colour please, gentlemen, when we meet again.
Share your thoughts
Dreaming of life after lockdown? Tell us about the first place you’d like to go, or the person/people you’d like to see first, once restrictions are eased. A selection of answers from the comment field at the bottom of this story may be republished
My husband and I have lived in London for only a year, so it’s very strange indeed to be deeply nostalgic for things that happened last fall. I’m thinking of our weekly Tube rides into Soho with our dog Philo, who could camp out under the table at Duck and Rice, our favourite Chinese restaurant in the world.
Another image that comes to mind is a warm day at Hampstead Ponds, where we discovered a whole hillside full of gentlemen enjoying the sunshine and each other’s company. I’d like more of that please.
playwright and screenwriter
I want to go back to New York
What if they take it down
See it for the set it is
A too tight plot of hope
(There’s not so much of that around now)
What happens when New York stops dreaming?
Sees the mess
The smell in August
Please don’t look, just walk
I have this fear we’ll wait too long
Go back and find it’s gone
It was a crazy idea to start with
Like sometimes how you see a rose and think
This really should be in a museum
Hold on a little while
You’re golden, baby
Show’s not over yet.
historian and FT contributing editor
I miss . . . most of everything about London: black cab drivers correcting my history; the lasagne at caffè Caldesi; the crispy chicken skin at Portland; the whole damned menu at Honey & Smoke; fresh broad beans, impossible to find in the US; the yellow roses in our Little Venice roof garden climbing up the wall trellis as if heading for freedom; Saturday afternoon at the London Library, slanting sunlight and two other readers at the long table.
Local wistfulness here in the Hudson Valley? Yes, I miss unmasked faces at the farmers’ market, so that Ryan the learned fishmonger and I can compare lengthy notes on the dark fate of Spurs. But really, truly, deeply? That moment thousands of feet up when through the plane window the clouds part and there is the Thames, the colour of weak tea or past-sell-by-date spinach, and all I want to do is paraglide down and land right in the middle of Regent’s Park to the appreciative honking of startled geese.
The Great Outdoors
For the past 25 years, my husband and I have spent the month of August in the southwest corner of Montana, looking out over the floor of the Madison River Valley and up to the Madison Range of the Rockies. While it has always been a working holiday for the two of us, we lose track of days and, each year when we arrive, we give way to the feeling that we have never left. It is always August in Montana.
The time is sacred. We treat ourselves by taking day-long drift-boat trips on the Madison River, hunting, alongside the osprey and bald eagles, for big trout. Brownies and Rainbows. What I am most looking forward to is standing in the bow of a drift boat, watching a beautiful, iridescent trout, magnificently painted by a hand unknown, leave my net and swim upstream.
I’m most looking forward to walking for 50 days across the Atlas Mountains. Lockdown in Morocco is very strict and since March 20 I have only been allowed to leave the house for essential shopping — so the furthest I’ve walked is 3km. I am in the village of Imlil, about 40 miles south of Marrakech, living in a compound with four generations of one family. We are all fasting for Ramadan which is horribly tough during corona — a double imprisonment. It’s physically hard to deprive yourself of food and water and mentally there is nothing to break up the day. A joy is that we share the breaking of the fast, eating a date and drinking the first sip of water.
I dream constantly of my Atlas Expedition, which was due to start at the end of June. It’s the last leg of my odyssey across Morocco. I have walked two-thirds of the country with my three Amazigh guides and five camels, following the Draa River and then crossing the wild sands of the Sahara. Just 50 days and 1000-odd kilometres remain from the Mediterranean back inland to Ouarzazate where it all began in January last year.
This period gave me back nature. I walked in parks for the one hour’s exercise we were allowed. I found the trees a great gift. For the first time in an age I could hear the wind in the leaves and the full-throated song of birds.
I hope we don’t go back to the old normal. We have to change. Society has to alter its orientation. Perhaps we consume too much. Maybe what is best for us is to be still. The freedom of nature seems to be one of the few revolutionary truths in our lives. When society pauses, nature sings. She must be part of what we listen to if we are to survive.
For myself, I do not look forward to the end of the lockdown. I love staying home, reading, writing, being quiet. The lockdown has given me the opportunity for months in a small, tranquil paradise.
My dream for when it is over? Going back to sailing. I have a 100-year-old wooden fisherman’s boat, and sail it in the Mediterranean when I am in Marseille. And perhaps hearing on the radio that humankind, hit by the epidemic, is finally realising that the solution is to stop fighting and start collaborating. I know it is only a dream. It is my dream. Who knows, maybe I am not the only one.
A New World
Being not a hoper or a wisher, my mind rarely strays beyond the instant moment and the real estate that’s inches from my toes. Nothing about the lockdown has altered that. I don’t miss or long for anything I don’t have or can’t do. Maybe lockdown is the novelist’s natural state.
What I “look forward to” I do with foreboding: either it’s life becoming sadly more perilous for us all, or it’s the resumption of a lot of spasmodic, inessential urges (pointless airplane rides, desultory dinners out, thoughtless social life, air-kissing strangers) which the pandemic has allowed me to shuck unmourned. I mean, don’t we all long to be happy with what we have? Isn’t less good for us? Isn’t it actually more?
What do I most look forward to as we emerge from the lockdown? Most urgently, a carefully drawn up ledger of accountability. Covid cases have risen sharply in India, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s zero-planning lockdown is estimated to have cost 135m jobs.
We have lived with “Untouchability” — caste apartheid — in India for centuries. Now we can welcome class apartheid, the era of Touchlessness, in which the very bodies of one class are seen as a biohazard to another. The biohazardous bodies will be required to labour, of course, without the protection afforded to the privileged. And the interface — the service class — will be replaced as far as possible by non-hazardous machines.
What will become of the surplus working class — the bulk of the world’s population — not just in India, but worldwide? Who is going to be held accountable for this apocalypse? Not a virus, I hope. We need Covid Trials. In an international court. At the very least. That’s my post-lockdown reverie.
Pictures by Christopher Anderson/Magnum Photos; Getty Images; Carlo Rovelli; Howard Sooley. Artwork by Hilary Kirby
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