I think we’re all feeling a bit stranded in the wilderness at the moment, so, today, our lunchtime “exercise walk” took us back down the road we visited on a whim last week (while we were in the vicinity doing Something Very Important And Necessary) and on a bit further, into the area known to locals as “The Wilderness.”
Despite there being quite a few people about, we were all on different sides of the huge field, so that was OK. I noticed there were some dads with their kids, all on bikes. Dads, not Mums. I can imagine the latter shooing their families out of the house: “Go! Just GO! It’s such a lovely day out there! Yes, I’ll be FINE! Honestly, I have PLENTY to do.” Then collapsing, sobbing hysterically with relief at the sudden silence, onto the massive piles of washing and ironing that have accumulated and multiplied in the past few weeks of working-from-home and home-schooling chaos, cut-price Easter eggs in one hand, enormous G&Ts in the other…
We spotted social-distancing swans and ducks, clumps of bluebells dotted about and plenty of spring blossom everywhere. A helicopter passed overhead – well, it would be a bit strange if it hadn’t been overhead, I suppose – and we speculated on whether it was the police or the army keeping tabs on us all. It could happen. Especially as people are still congregating in parks everywhere, sunbathing far too close to each other and allowing their children to intermingle and play together. This was in Battersea Park in south London at the weekend, a friend told me, but it’s happening everywhere, of course, now that the weather is warming up. (I cheered to see the rain, this morning, despite having spent hours watering our garden yesterday, but it didn’t last.)
Another friend, who I spoke to today, lives in north London and said his local park was now closed and he, for one, was glad, because he hates crowds and much prefers the empty streets. He and his flat-mate had to self-isolate for 14 days, as she had developed symptoms of the virus and then he picked it up, but thankfully wasn’t ill with it for very long. So he missed the worst of the panic-buying hordes of idiots in the supermarkets and was very relieved to have been absent from all the mayhem for a while.
The OH and I both hate crowds as well and will go out of our way to avoid them where we can, but I think of the parents I saw last week in Kingston: slumped on a bench behind M&S in an empty, chilly precinct, chewing glumly on a takeaway lunch while their three small children roared around them on their toy scooters. They looked near to breaking-point. This outing – if you can call it that – was clearly infinitely preferable to being cooped up indoors together and, distancing or no distancing, I’m pretty certain they would have welcomed a crowd of people, however badly behaved, with relief and open arms.
Talking of open arms, I’m looking forward to hugging everyone I know (and quite possibly several I don’t) when all this is over. You have been warned!