Science Fiction and Good intentions
Yesterday morning I went out to have a look around. Fearing the overcrowding, I had no plans to go to the supermarkets, but I was pleasantly surprised to see that 3 out of the 4 supermarkets on the high road, due to the scarce supplies of food and household items, had hardly any customers. Outside Waitrose I saw a queue of five, but due to the 2 meters social distancing it spread, and whirled around one of the side roads, stretching for quite a while.
I looked at people’s behaviour and I noticed little changes, if any. Everybody behaved just the same as before, as if nothing had happened. The only difference was that if you came across passers-by on the street, they would jump on the other side of the pavement, sometimes onto the road, at an incredible speed, like magnets of identical polarity. The same happened in shops. The new customer goes in and remains near the door, waiting for the other customers to finish their purchases. Then the new costumer moves out, even further, and lets the plague-ridden customers out of the shop before they come in. There is no talking, and no looking at people in the eyes. Basically, the same old London, but with the embellishment of masks and keeping two meters apart. I can’t talk for the rest of the city, but in my area everybody is observing the rules by the book. I find that very reassuring.
On Thursday evening at 8 o’clock the whole of the UK clapped, from their windows and doors, in support of the NHS. I was there too, clapping enthusiastically. Some fireworks were shot into the sky from people’s gardens, with beautiful streaks of purple and yellow. This is all very nice, but I wish that at the next election those faces standing behind glass panes, from lines after lines of terraced houses, will remember not to give 80% of the votes to a party that has been decimating our National Health System for the last 10 years. Just saying it! I also hope that in the future such acts of solidarity will become the norm. For example, we could dance on our doorsteps, or in our sitting rooms every Friday night.
I’ve also been surprised to see so many messages, from the government, and on social media, encouraging to become acquainted with your neighbours, and help those who need it the most. How you’re supposed to do that and keep your social distancing, I don’t know. If you think that most Londoners don’t know their next-door neighbour, it seems bizarre to suggest that now, that we are home-bound, we should make friends. I know we are living in extraordinary times at the moment, and if someone needs help, we should do our best, but there is no need to be hypocritical about it. I would like to ask a therapist if this behaviour is rational or even normal. I am content with my friends, my books, Netflix, Badminton, learning French and Norwegian, writing, cooking, doing yoga and Tai chi. I think I have lived in London too long for a sudden change of habits. God forbid!
Since the day my home has become a golden prison, I have been doing some workouts. It’s time to rate them. At 9am I’ve been joining the body Coach TV, with Joe Wicks. I managed to jump up and down for 15 minutes. The workouts are aimed at kids, and the speed of the exercises is too much even for Joe, who every now and then has to stop to catch his breath, while he reads the viewers’ messages that appear on the screen. Besides being too fast, it’s also too noisy. Joe talks quicker than he can jump. The video does my head in. Not for me. Let’s move on to Basketball solitaire, with a paper bin. After 5 minutes of ball throwing you will lose 9 calories and do 348 steps. This equals 108 calories, and 4,176 steps in 1 hour. Not bad. My pedometer couldn’t work out how many steps I took while playing badminton. Contrary to basketball solitaire, badminton leaves you gasping for breath. Badminton is the champion with a rating of 5 stars.
Now a few words about the shopping. Eager not to risk it, I opted out for online shopping, only to be told that it might even be more dangerous than going out. A friend of mine who is overly conscious about anything infectious or radioactive, told me that you should leave the purchased food in shopping bags for 72 hours, before you open your packet of dry peanuts. Your items have been touched by people who might be infected, and together with the shopping they could delivered the virus directly to your house. I can’t get my head round that. If I leave my shopping for 72 hours, half of the food will be off. This is finances over health. What shall I do? Risk my health or throw away my money? I think most governments are having the same dilemma right now.
And to conclude the diatribe I would like to quote the Diary of Samuel Pepys, at the time of the Plague, 1664.
“On hearing ill rumour that Londoners may soon be urged into their lodgings by Her Majesty’s men, I looked upon the street to see a gaggle of striplings making fair merry, and no doubt spreading the plague well about. Not a care had these rogues for the health of their elders!”
Some things never change!