I LIVE in a busy village, close to pubs, shops and restaurants. In the evenings I often hear live music from one of the bars, the chatter of people out and about, and in the mornings I wake up to the sound of shop deliveries. I never realised how much I loved that noise till now.

The eerie silence that hangs everywhere is deafening. Normally I enjoy a bit of peace and quiet, some respite from the frenzied pace of life, but I have learned over recent days that too much quiet is unsettling.

I am living in isolation, in a house with just me in it. I’ve always liked living alone; it is a choice I made and I’m very used to it. Over the years I have shared houses and flats, and they were some of the best times of my life, but now I like having my own space all to myself. When I get home, everything is as I left it. The washing-up has either been done or is still sitting in the sink, depending on whether I had the time or inclination to do it. When I close the front door, I shut the world out for a while, and it’s just me, in my own space.

Now that space is my workplace as well as my home. Like many people, I am working from home and living in lockdown, alone.

Living alone is fine, so long as you see people regularly. But I can’t call round to my sister’s for a coffee, we can’t walk her dog together or have Sunday tea with her kids. I can’t invite friends over, or arrange to meet up anywhere. I still can’t get used to that.

This is a new way of life for everyone. People’s lives are unravelling in various ways, from the friends who left flowers on their mothers’ doorsteps last Sunday to my teenage nephew, who no longer has his weekend job in a bistro, which he loved, and is now bored and restless at home instead of being at school or out with his mates.

I don’t know who I feel sorry for most in lockdown - the kids whose last leg of school, those rites-of-passage weeks you carry through life as precious memories, was suddenly snatched away; the elderly in social isolation, some alone and frightened; the unpaid carers whose wellbeing depends on respite they can no longer access; the children who are safer out of their homes than in them; the women at risk from abusive partners; the young families cooped up and stressed out; the exhausted, frustrated frontline medical staff trying not to dissolve into despair; couples whose weddings are called off; the poor chap in the Co-op I saw being sworn at when he politely asked an irate shopper not to fill her trolley with several huge cartons of milk.

The eeriness isn’t just in the silence. It’s in the space between us. I went for a walk and crossed the road to avoid people. I felt self conscious, like I had no business being out on the street. Were curtains twitching? A woman was leaning out of an upstairs window, chatting to a neighbour in his garden. Was it just me or did they tut as I walked past? “We’re allowed one walk a day,” I muttered, quickening up to pass them. Who knew a stroll in the spring sunshine could trigger low level paranoia. Even the birdsong was unsettling. I walked past an empty playground, which was beyond sad. As we keep hearing, these are “unprecedented times” and everyone will have challenges. “It’s like a bad dream” - who hasn’t said that at least once lately?

But one day, eventually, this will be over. And maybe we’ll come out of it not taking so much for granted. I hope to value simple pleasures - going to the cinema, a pub quiz, a curry with friends, swimming, Sunday tea, the seaside, and playing daft card games with my family - because I know how quickly they can be gone.