Another day, another lunch with a friend in my nearby town and the cafes appeared as crowded as they were before lockdown. People were supposed to be wearing masks inside the indoor shopping centre, but I saw several who weren’t. To be fair, I couldn’t see any notices saying we should be doing this.
In Boots, I was very pleased to see the nice man I used to chat to regularly. When I said it was good to see him again, he said he had been working throughout, apart from a brief break for a “staycation”. Apparently, they hadn’t been allowed to put a notice up outside the centre, letting people know they were open, so they were taking just five per cent of their normal daily takings throughout. It must have been extremely boring for them. He added that people weren’t taking any of the rules seriously, and one lady in there last week pulled her mask down in order to give a very loud and messy sneeze, before shoving it back up her face again!
There’s a lady in Smiths I sometimes chat to and it was good to see her again, as well. She said she had been very bored at home and was glad to be back working, though she was worried about the talk of forcing the over-fifties to stay at home. I was surprised when she said she was 54, and said I thought she was in her thirties. I might have made a new friend for life.
I told her that, after a great many years of not writing a daily diary, I had made the momentous decision to start one again this year. Oops…
Everywhere you look, people seem very happy to be out and about again. My friend said being in the house so much was driving her mad. She still feels nervous about travelling on buses, preferring to get the train to meet me. I haven’t yet been on a bus, either. The OH had dropped me off earlier and I made the snap decision to grab a taxi home, as I had to be back by a certain time and the buses appeared to be running late. I doubt all the people waiting would have been allowed on, either.
The taxi driver said he had been bored after a couple of weeks and had got himself a van-driving job in the interim. He was glad to see things returning to normal, though he, as with so many others I’ve spoken to, is expecting a second wave within the next couple of months. His wife is a dental nurse and can’t get back to work just yet.
In the church café, another regular haunt, I popped in to say hello and welcome back. The lady working there said it had been very quiet since they re-opened. She was also predicting a second wave in the autumn. She was singing the praises of Boris, saying what a fine Mayor of London he’d been, and how none of us would have known what to do for the best in the present circumstances. She said she was in the nearby Waitrose the other day, where a very well-dressed, well-spoken, middle-aged lady was refusing to wear a mask and insisting on her “citizen’s rights” – whatever they may be. What about the rights of everyone else around her, though?! No wonder Boris is so often pictured with his head in his hands…
Meanwhile, back in our regular Waitrose, I noticed they have started putting hand sanitiser on every checkout, next to the free weekly paper. Talking of which, have you ever seen it? It’s brilliant. I would probably pay for it but, shush, don’t tell them!
However, you do wonder why these places bother. As we were waiting in the checkout queue, two women who clearly hadn’t seen each other in ages embraced delightedly in full view of us all. Beam me up, someone!