Living, coping and observing in the age of Covid #10
REMEMBER those bruising, knuckle-skinning, foot-tripping days of yore; every man and woman (and all in between) for themselves; no holds barred as the doors slid open and the mass hurtled forward at the opening of the Boxing Day sales?
Or the elbow-shoving, back-pushing skirmishes as thousands upon thousands bowled each other over when the hooter blared for the start of the London (or many another major city) Marathon? And not one of them likely at any time to be within even distant sight of the elite front-runners.
Then there’s the annual lemming-like rush coastwards of millions in search of a patch of pebbly sand barely large enough to place a towel, lukewarm bottle of drink and a backpack of accessories, lotions and iPhone or Kindle.
Incomprehensible, foolish and futile. As hazardous as it seems to chance life and limb when the bulls are let loose in Pamplona; or even when the drugged and loopy roam free at raves and festivals.
These are a few reminders of what are now referred to as “normal” times.
Times which, according to the creators of the much heralded “road map”, lie tantalisingly ahead. Times which, for many, can’t come soon enough.
They are already champing at the bit, pawing at the ground, revving their engines (insert your preferred metaphoric cliche).
Not for them the joy of isolation of the past however many months. Nor the serenity and quiet of empty streets and barely used roads. Forsaking the chance to breath truly fresh air; to hear bird song for the first time in long memory.
Stepping in the footsteps of Wordsworth and wandering lonely as a cloud soon to be another lost opportunity.
And yet they say they feel so stressed and depressed. How can that be with this blessed escape from crowds, queues, ear-bashing noise and the overall stress of coping with other people?
Can they be serious when bemoaning the lack of airport check-ins, the sardine-like sweaty confinement of low-cost holiday flights, the hours spent inching forward at security and customs simply to depart and arrive – and two weeks later do it all again?
For what? Fourteen days of hangovers, a maxed-out credit card, look-at-my-tan selfies on Instagram?
At least the engineers of the release from lockdown are ensuring the pain level is a gradual process. No sudden shocks akin to leaping into an icy lake in midwinter. For starters, the March Madness of the “suffer the little children” resumption of far from normal schooling will be enough to cope with. On so many levels; and so many diverse reactions and emotions.
All of which will be ramped up with oceans of tears and suffocating hugs as socialising restrictions are eased.
Coffee for two on a park bench anyone? Do we have enough benches to accommodate the rush? Can hardly wait to be trampled underfoot to grab a seat. Perhaps a rota system will be needed; or a rent-a-bench scheme.
And a two-way pedestrian traffic system, with Stop-Go lights maybe, to handle the hordes.
Many of who will be mounting raids on cafes and pubs in their eagerness to gorge on mediocre food their bodies could well do without and sure to further expand booze-swollen waistlines already suffering from lockdown excess.
Such joys await. Along with the reopening of “non-essential” businesses.
A description that is a puzzle in itself. The clue is in the name – non-essential. So why complain at their non-existence? Why spend so much precious cash on propping them up?
As many will have discovered over many past months these are the purveyors of fripperies, trinkets, baubles, gee-gaws and needless add-ons; the dust-collecting bits and pieces upon which the glossy mags lavish so much attention and gushing praise. Non-essential indeed.
The leotarded legions can hardly wait to get back to sweating it out in airless gyms rather than run, jump, skip and pump iron in the great outdoors of lockdown; all those wide open spaces and ghastly fresh air. Better a machine-propelled jog behind a perspex screen than wind-blown exposure along muddy tracks and trails where few others venture.
Depending on what “the data” reveals, it could take close to four months before we reach the Nirvana that our whinging, moaning, downtrodden, ill-done-by fellow beings so incessantly seek and demand; ignoring the reasons for the strictures they have had to endure; tending to forget the global millions who have died agonising deaths.
Throw off the shackles. Let hedonism and self-interest bloom and thrive. I’m all right, Jack.
Yeah, right. But spare a thought for Aesop’s old man and his bundle of sticks – and beware what you wish for.