About Me

My photo
Rantings, thoughts, diatribe. Anything that captures my interest and hangs around long enough to capture on a keyboard.

Friday, 5 June 2020

Dispatches from Lockdown - Week Twelve

The three month mark is approaching from the time when the UK first entered lockdown. Restrictions are starting to ease and when I head out to the local high street, you would think that collective amnesia has descended, given the mass disregard for social distancing. It's as if some have forgotten that we are still in the midst of a global pandemic caused by a virus that has no cure. The UK death toll continues to rise, the 'official' figure hovering somewhere between forty to sixty thousand, depending on which news source you believe. Government incompetence is staggering, causing a behavioral free-for-all socially because no-one trusts or listens to them anymore. International commentary derides the UK for entering lock down too late and now exiting too early.

I agree.

However, whilst the first wave of infection was out of our control, the second wave isn't. People know what they can do to try and minimise infections but whether they choose to or not is another matter. So I think the UK will have the second wave of it's choosing. 

The things I have missed over the last three months have been surprising. Or not. I didn't think swimming would rank in my top ten list of missing but I'm not surprised that small talk features on the not-missed list. What surprises me the most is how much of the London lifestyle I don't miss. At all. 

Instead I miss the sea. Breathing air that smells a bit burnt, tinged with the scent of eucalyptus. Raucous birdsong and a sky that makes you mute. I miss the edges. I miss feeling rubbed raw by nature.

A Blurry Picture of a Big Sky

I've heard many comment about when things will return to normal but I don't see how you can live through something like this and not have it change you.

Or maybe it's not change at all. Maybe it's just a reminder of what it is you valued all along.

I guess we'll see. 

Friday, 24 April 2020

Space Invaders

Once upon a time, in a galaxy far, far away (circa anytime before Mar 20, 2020), the Husband complained often about my walking style, especially if he was behind me trying to follow my lead.

You don't walk in a logical fashion, he moaned for the umpteenth time.You swerve all over the place. You walk like you're being followed, like you're trying to shake someone off.

Draw what conclusions you will but I didn't point out that the only person following me, was him.

He's right though. When I walk through a crowd of people, I like to pretend that I am in a video game (eighties arcade style) with the aim of avoiding all moving targets (bumping into other people) whilst getting to my destination as quickly as possible.

Oldie but a goodie

It hones your kinaesthetic sense* and makes walking through a crowd really fun. It's even better with headphones on as then you have a soundtrack. I have been doing this a long time.

Unfortunately, due to lock down I have not walked through a crowd for awhile.** Still, I have  ventured out each day for my government mandated exercise quota. In the early days, I ran or walked on the footpaths, just as I had done pre-Covid and if I came across another soul, we would do an awkward dance of denial; manifesting a duet between opposed magnets, trying to keep as much air as possible between our bodies. But we would both be on that footpath, our body movements institutionalised by the fear of being run over by cars.  A few weeks later, this changed as the roads became quiet and pedestrians, runners and cyclists reclaimed the streets.

The freedom to run, walk, cycle down the middle of the road, for the most part unhindered by traffic has been one of the unexpected highlights of lock down.

My daily outings into the world made me notice that people generally fell into two groups.The first were courteous and diligent about social distancing. These are the people who would spot you from afar and if they could, would cross the road or pause to let you go first. Basically move in such a way  so you would not get too close to one another.

Not so the second group. In this Dante's circle are the mobile phone users, looking down at their screens whilst walking, with zero concern about anyone else in the vicinity. Sprawling families who act as if they are on a country ramble, meandering along, taking up the full breadth of a walkway so no-one else can get past. Joggers who spit. Joggers who can't deviate from 'their route' even if this means brushing right up past you. Pedestrians who mustn't have studied metrics at school, mistaking two centimeters for two meters.

I also noticed that the kinaesthetic sense is sorely lacking in many people. I suppose this because it is not something you wouldn't  need to use regularly unless you play team sports or perform in some sort of physical ensemble. But perhaps by the end of this, we will all have finely attuned senses of where others are in relation to ourselves. Let's hope.

I also noticed that the walking style needed in lock down was something I was born for! My swerve-duck-dodge walk is in vogue. The only difference is that there is now a two- metre radius around each moving target.

I guess for all of us, there comes a time in life where your weird quirks or odd habits come into their own.

If only my Husband could see me now (he can't because I left him for dust)

*my definition of this is the awareness of one's bodily movements within space in relation to the environment

**apart from the supermarket where social distancing seems to have been abandoned

Sunday, 12 April 2020

Constant Craving

We are entering Week 4 of lock down in London and the weekend weather has been kind, giving us sun and light in place of muted grey and drizzle. BBQs and sunglasses have replaced jumpers and socks. People are out sunbathing while others are dying.

It's very odd.

Our household, for now, is free of illness and so I have been reading in the sun. Newspapers, books, magazines. One particular sentence that zinged through me was by columnist and author Deborah Levy who wrote:

We will have to investigate the magic of the universe from home.

Surveying my To-Read pile, I pulled out two books that have been gathering dust for many months, mainly because I had never felt in the mood to read them since purchase - Island Home: A Landscape Memoir and Land's Edge: A Coastal Memoir, both by fellow West Australian, Tim Winton.

Who knew that it would take a global pandemic to put me in the mood?

I was less than a third of the way through Island Home when it clicked that the sentences were slaking a thirst I didn't realise I had. I drank it whole and moved swiftly onto Land's Edge.

Both books took me to a place and time outside of corona virus, lock downs and social distancing. They evoked a craving for the West Australian landscape that germinated in me as a young child exploring bush land near our suburban brick and tile home. They made me long for a coastline that leaves your mind blank when you look at it.

I wrote about this longing after my first few years of living in London; about missing the brand of wilderness that raised me. It took about five, six years of London life for the oasis of a coastline to ebb in my mind.

Fifteen years on, I thought I had adapted to my new environs and that the zest of daily London life had put to bed the craving for wild.

I was wrong. It was just subsumed. Waiting.

As Mr Winton wrote in Land's Edge:

In Europe I tried the landlocked existence. In Paris I experienced my first apartment and my first truly dispiriting body of water, the Seine. The city itself was a revelation, an astounding and beautiful place, but after six months I found myself crazy for the margins.

It's no coincidence that during this marginal existence we are living, waiting on the edges of our lives for the threat of covid to recede, that I yearn for the spaces that make me feel outside of myself. To be overwhelmed in nature as opposed to being overwhelmed by a virus.

Something has come full circle. And it's only week 4.

Wednesday, 8 April 2020

Oh No. Bojo has the Covo.

CoVo world moves at a rate of knots. Things change with a blink.

A few days ago, the UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson was hospitalised in St Thomas' Hospital with 'persistent' symptoms of coronavirus. He's spent the last two nights in ICU and apparently is in 'good spirits.

Bojo's a no go. He's in Tommo's laid low with the CoVo. So now, we've got Dommo leading the Toro's.*

I'm no fan of Bojo but I wish him a full recovery. In this unheralded time, we need stability, even if it does come in the form of Boris Johnson. The irony of him receiving the very best of NHS care; care that his party has systematically stripped away from many others less fortunate is glaringly apparent under the world spotlight.

What isn't changing swiftly is the Husband's recovery from suspected CoVo. It's been 18 days since he fell ill and he is 6kg thinner and too weak to walk out the front door and do a socially distant stroll to the end of our road. Although he is improving slowly, I have never, in the 25 years I've known him, ever seen him this debilitated.

And he is one of the lucky ones, to have had a 'mild' case of CoVo, if that is indeed what he had.

I hope that it was.

Because going through it once was enough.

*I have been watching a lot of Kath and Kim