The last ‘normal’ photo on your phone

A selection of people's last 'normal' photos

The coronavirus pandemic has changed how we live. What was ordinary just a couple of months ago seems almost unrecognisable.

We asked you for the last “normal” photo you had on your phone, and hundreds of you replied. Here are 13 pictures from before we had to come to terms with lockdowns and social distancing.

Our wedding – Tom Archer

Tom Archer, his new wife and their groomsmen on their wedding day in Austria

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Tom Archer

We spent two years planning our wedding in Austria.

I drove out through France and Germany in a campervan, with the world closing down around me, not knowing if we could go ahead with it.

On the Friday night as our guests arrived, Austria announced they would be shutting down from Sunday. On Saturday 14 March we married, and on the Sunday we were escorted from the resort back to the airport.

We had two or three guests who didn’t make it to the wedding, but it was an absolutely amazing day. Looking at the pictures now is totally mind-boggling.

Two of my mates were taking the campervan back. They got as far as Germany, and then Germany locked the borders. They left it there and flew home.

So the campervan with the wedding cake inside is still in a Munich car park.

The last time I saw my boyfriend – Francesca Payne

Francesca plays air hockey with her boyfriend

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Francesca Payne

This was the last photo I took of my boyfriend before we went into lockdown separately. We both live with our parents so we aren’t together and I haven’t seen him in weeks.

It was the Saturday before the lockdown was announced. We knew what was about to happen so we had a few drinks and played air hockey together at his house in Hampshire before we parted ways. We have a tradition of playing air hockey all the time – it’s what we do on our Saturday nights.

I genuinely didn’t anticipate having to be away from him for so long. I’ve never spent more than a few days without him so this is very hard, but we know it’s for ours and everyone else’s safety.

We send a picture of ourselves to each other every day as a little reminder, so we don’t forget what each other looks like.

I can’t wait to see him again.

A day at the races at Cheltenham – Joe Senior

A view of Cheltenham Festival

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Joe Senior

It was Friday 13 March at Cheltenham Festival. On the Thursday night I got a text from a friend saying he had a handful of spare hospitality tickets for the races after clients dropped out because of Covid-19. With no work the next day I jumped at the chance.

It was a lovely day. I took this snap because it looked nice with the sun and things. I wasn’t really thinking about coronavirus at the time, but looking back it’s an awful lot of people.

I wasn’t especially concerned about coronavirus then. There were quite a lot of hand sanitiser dispensers, and we were doing the no handshake thing with everyone we met, but back then it felt like a bit of a novelty.

I left slightly in profit and very drunk on a nearly empty train with more staff than customers (apparently also coronavirus related). I do wonder how many cases can be traced back to Cheltenham.

The last school run – Emma Buckle

Emma's children and their friend walk home from school

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Emma Buckle

I walk my kids to and from school every day and it’s something I enjoy, a time to chat about their days and mine.

I took this photo on 20 March, the last day of school before it closed because of coronavirus. I was with my daughter, my son and my daughter’s friend. I’d just left the playground where I said goodbye to my school mum friends, not knowing when we’d see each other again.

On the way home, I was asking the kids how they felt about schools closing. They were really happy – it was like breaking up for the summer holidays. I was sad.

Since this photo, the novelty has worn off a bit for the kids. Mummy school isn’t as good as normal school – I’m not Ofsted rated.

I cannot wait until I walk them to school again.

A massive party – Yvette Laister

People celebrate at Yvette's friend's party

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Yvette Laister

It was a friend’s 50th birthday celebration in Ascot on Saturday 14 March.

It was a fantastic evening celebrating with special friends. We had an Amy Winehouse impersonator and we danced until the early hours.

What is so weird is we were all discussing coronavirus throughout the night, but partying still without a care in the world.

At that time, nobody really knew anyone who’d had it and we hadn’t heard of anything in the area.

About five to seven days later, 17 of us from the party became bed-ridden and severely poorly with all the classic Covid-19 symptoms.

All 17 of us fell ill within days of each other and have taken six weeks to get back to good health. Not one of us knew that we had been in contact with anyone with symptoms prior to the party.

None of us has had a test to prove we had it.

Visiting my dad – Anne Penfold

Anne and her dad pose for a selfie

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Anne Penfold

I wanted to visit my dad on that day in particular because I knew it was the last day I was going to be allowed to before his care home locked down to outside visitors.

It was Sunday 22 March. I wanted to be sure to visit him because he’s 93, he’s got dementia and he can’t actually walk anymore – I knew that if he got ill with Covid-19, the chances are he’d probably succumb.

We had a nice talk and I made sure to take some photos of him so that if worst comes to worst I’d have a nice memory of visiting him.

We talked about coronavirus and my little grandchild who my dad absolutely loves. I normally tell him if I’ve seen any interesting birds, because he’s a bird watcher and I am too.

He’s still fine, so far.

A family birthday – Ben Romaner

Ben's family celebrate his wife's birthday

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Ben Romaner

We were celebrating my wife’s birthday at home on 8 March, back when we were allowed to be surrounded by family.

I guess it was at a time when we were taking things for granted. We were doing what we’d normally do on someone’s birthday.

I don’t remember talking about coronavirus. We were talking about what we’d done that weekend and a family wedding planned for later this year.

Some of us watched the Rugby Six Nations game when Scotland beat France – the last game before the tournament got postponed.

One of the last birthday cards my wife received was from her aunt Barbara who, with no underlying health conditions, suddenly passed away from Covid-19 in April.

The next birthday celebrations we have as a family will now be appreciated even more.

Meeting the pilot – Cheryl Attrill

Cheryl's son walks to the cockpit

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Cheryl Attrill

We flew home from Disney World in Florida on 8 March – my son’s birthday. Here he is heading to the cockpit to meet the pilot.

It was an amazing family holiday. We were following the news quite closely whilst we were away, but it was all so uncertain. It felt like we were truly in a Disney bubble.

On the flight back my husband was ill (with hindsight probably Covid-19) and as an NHS manager, I was about to head home to a whole new world of household isolation, working from home, preschool education and plate spinning.

This photo feels like it was taken in another lifetime.

Our dream home – Wendy McNamee

The view from Wendy's rented home

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Wendy McNamee

We had just rented a perfect property in Voe, Shetland, where we were going to move. This was the last photo taken of our first visit to the house and the start of moving in.

We left in the happy anticipation of this being our new home before long.

Our next visit (less than two weeks later) was to remove our things and hand back the keys. A dream, which was so close you could feel it, stopped by Covid-19.

A football match – Steven Arnot

The pitch at Anfield

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Steven Arnot

This is a photograph taken at Anfield before the kick off of the Champions League tie between Liverpool and Atletico Madrid on 11 March.

My friend and I travelled down from Edinburgh to go to the game. At that point in March, the virus was already a real issue but nowhere near as advanced, and at that point we couldn’t have envisioned the devastation it would go on to cause. We discussed it on the train down with no real seriousness.

After the game we went to a local pub where Liverpool fans and Atletico fans mixed and discussed the game with respect and with humour, allowing for the language barrier. Again, no-one considered the possibility of an issue with the virus.

Being well fortified with beer I gave my scarf to an Atletico supporter from Madrid. He was very grateful. I can’t remember his name. I hope he still has it and with all that has happened in Madrid, I hope he is well.

A catch-up with my nan – Jade Power Brooke-Langham

Jade and Mavis pose for a photo on their last shopping trip

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Jade Power Brooke-Langham

My nan Mavis and I went on our usual trip to the supermarket for a coffee and a catch-up on 10 March. Little did either of us know it would be the last time she would leave her house for months and that she was soon to become an expert at FaceTime.

We were talking a lot about my plans for the rest of the year. I don’t remember speaking much about coronavirus. I was meant to be going on holiday to a yoga retreat so I was looking for bits to wear. That’s what the day was about.

She lives on her own. Knowing she is alone during all of this has been the hardest thing for me but she is famous for her never-ending optimism.

She recently got stuck on her chairlift and had to have three firemen come and sort her out. I think she was quite grateful for a bit of a chat with them and an interlude to her isolation.

I can’t wait to race her wheelchair into the supermarket again – she always loves that.

A celebration dinner – Emily Anderson

Emily's last meal with friends

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Emily Anderson

This photo was taken on 14 March at a restaurant in Norfolk, where I went out for dinner for a friend’s 21st birthday. I’d also secured a post-grad job a couple of days beforehand so I was keen to celebrate.

My university, UEA, had announced that on-campus teaching was being cancelled so I spent the weekend preparing to travel back to my family home and was conscious that this dinner was likely to be my last social event for a long time, which it was.

It’s the last time I wore makeup and the last time I got dressed up. It’s also the last time I saw that friend before we both graduate or finish our degrees, because we don’t know when we’ll have an official graduation.

I’m glad to have enjoyed that occasion just before spending weeks inside.

Crowds at the marathon – Erik Patton

People watching the LA Marathon

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Erik Patton

It was 8 March, I’d only moved to California a couple of months earlier. I was heading to the gym and the LA Marathon was being run near me in Santa Monica. I took the photo to send to my mum to show her that I was adjusting to life well here.

I didn’t know it would be the last time I’d see crowds out in public spaces. The virus seemed like one of those things that happens to “other people”.

Then I lost my job in independent film production when foreign investment from China fell through. I took to dog walking, but got furloughed when the shut-down dried up demand.

I’m now headed home to Hawaii – I’ll have to quarantine in place for two weeks when I get there.

Additional research by Paul Harrison


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