They keep telling us that we are reaching the peak of infections and that things will settle down after that. We keep listening to them whilst the death-count rises. Almost a thousand souls departed yesterday.
Our strange new reality has thrown up lots of strange responses. Generally, the sunshine has become apparent and it is complimented by the increased temperatures. In response to this, people are out exercising. Family groups can be seen walking the country lanes that surround my town whilst cyclists challenge themselves with whatever imaginary tour they are competing in.
Dogs are good to have. They provide a ready-made excuse to go out and about. It seems that dogs don’t get this IT, neither do cats, so it is possible that this is nature’s way of flipping the coin, placing us at the bottom of the infection’s hierarchy. Some people believe that the virus jumped from ‘Wet’ markets to humans. Some Chinese eats both dogs and cats. They believe that the flavour is enhanced when the animals die in torment, skinned alive.
I once had a class complete a writing assignment on the infamous Dog Festival in Yulin. Now that those students are older, the are probably held up as experts amongst their peers and consulted about their thoughts on the current situation. If there was anything that I would have wanted them to gain from the task, it would have been an inclination to question such very cruel practices.
Our cat, who has spent the time from just about four this morning to now, has just re-entered the family home. I have put her some food out and she has rejected it as it is below her culinary standards. She does this quite often and we often tend to bend to her will – not today. Today our spines will stay straight and our resolve will not falter. This said, neither will hers. She will keep applying her persuasive tactics until they drive us to madness and towards the ultimate goal of giving her exactly what she wants – tuna with mayonnaise. Looking over now, I can see that she understands the new reality as she is eating the dish that I put out for her – we win.
It’s interesting to see the differences in people’s behaviours in supermarkets. During this lockdown, we have to plan our shops to avoid being over-exposed to other people. Close by, there are a number of outlets that we visit and we have started to rank them in an order that reflects both themselves and their clientele. We take into consideration the way in which they manage the orderly entrances and exits of their customers, the way in which people interact with their new shopping reality, the distance the shoppers keep from each other, and the handling of the checkouts.
- Marks & Spencer. Middle-class outlet: well ordered, well stacked and well managed. Always feel safe and potentially free from contamination as most other customers tend to climb into the produce rather than come withing a mile of another human.
- Tesco. Supermarket for all: well ordered, goodishly stacked, and decent social divisions on the aisles. Relatively safe.
- Morrisons. More for the elderly: as ordered as a cemetary a midnight. Limited foods and supplies as a result of the walkers taking their goods to their graves. Probably safe, but a constant fear of the recently deceased falling upon you at the cheese counter.
- Asda. For the criminally reckless and those inhabiting the lower rungs of a very long ladder. Indifferent entry system and non-existant exit strategy. People tend to ignore the spaces that should be kept between each other and this is especially true of their own staff. Only to be visited if you are running low on booze.
Back to exercise. I did a long cycle with a friend yesterday. We have been observing the social-distancing rules and always try to keep a decent space between ourselves. I tend to take the lead as I have more knowledge of the possible routes that can be taken. As soon as we can, we hit the quiet country lanes where we can cycle on different ends of the road. This gives us plenty of space between us. But yesterday I felt a little less at ease. It was the death of the family friend that was playing out in my mind. I was nervous about the proximity we were sharing. Now, I understand the anxiety of the new world. Although things seem normal, better than normal in some cases, there is a creeping threat that waits, undetected around every corner.
It’s how IT works. The virus is as companiable as we are. It thrives on our need for company and ignores any well-intentioned concerns. Once we put our guards down, it can strike at any moment. And when it strikes, it goes for the throat.