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COMMENT: The stillness of Peterborough

How are we all bearing up?
City centre dark

Our household and structure is all over the place, and I know I'm not alone. Long-held plans for our life, events for later in the year, and everything else around it, are all being folded away and replaced by...nothing.

Around the world weddings and parties and anniversaries have been cancelled. House sales have fallen through, people have been laid off, hopes have gone up in smoke. And these are some of the luckier ones when we see the scenes from hospital wards across the globe, and following the dreadful news from last night at PCH and Hinchingbrooke. 

My wife and I started saving about a year ago for our holiday this summer, and cut corners in all sorts of places to make it a reality. Now it clearly isn't happening and I'm relieved - a feeling I would scarcely have thought possible if it had been put to me several months or even weeks ago. 

In any event it seems petty to complain when real life around us is shifting in the way it is. What seemed preposterous in February is now commonplace.

People asking, no begging, for our civil liberties to be taken away. Owen Jones praising Piers Morgan on Twitter. Brawling in supermarkets. Taxi drivers in masks. Empty buses. A man walking with his paper who we see every morning deliberately taking another road to avoid us. Queensgate closed. My daughter's school teaching a handful of children. 

The tightrope of knowing what to report is ever more precarious, the rope grows thinner every day. 

We've had criticism for some stories, as have many media outlets - we haven't meant to upset anyone, but I can see sometimes why offence has been taken. Emotions are high. People are vulnerable, concerned and frightened. Local news portals and sites will continue to do what they can, across the UK and world. 

At the same time we have to believe that one day we'll look back on this with a sense of history.

On Friday night I had that feeling, and that I needed to do something. So I went out, camera in hand, to the city centre. I'd seen several social media posts saying that pubs would be closing at 11pm, so I chose to arrive then. 

Broadway. Charters. Cathedral Square. Bridge Street, and barely a person in sight. The city looked beautiful. It was lit and litter-free, dark and vibrant, quiet and yet telling a tale. A sight of Peterborough that just isn't seen normally, and hopefully never will be again after this spring.

I was very proud of our people, but already picturing that future when they will be emerging from bars a little merry, with smiles on faces, hugging and happy. Hopefully they'll be wearing summer clothes and there will still be sunlight.

We'll take those pictures, and present them next to the ones from Friday night, as a comparison of how we beat the coronavirus.