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Coronavirus log: Graham Turner's doing his bit

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‘Stay at home’ implored the authorities at Easter, ‘It’s a public emergency, not a public holiday’.

Then came the advice from the NHS: Don’t do anything that involves even the mildest peril or risk of injury - no DIY, no gardening. So basically, we were being told to sit at home and stare at the wall!

Now, I don’t have many strengths or talents, but luckily, staring at walls is one thing I am good at. I can do it at will and make it last for hours. I won’t say it’s my favourite pastime, but it’s up there . . .

One of the more intreesting walls that I choose to stare at (33962999)
One of the more intreesting walls that I choose to stare at (33962999)

Many people I know just don’t have the capacity to sit, empty-headed and do nothing - my wife is one, she always has to be doing something. If she’s not ‘doing’, she’s making lists about ‘doing’ or planning to do things. Poor, poor thing, I do feel sorry for her.

I suppose I could try to justify myself and say I’m practising Mindfulness or meditation, but that suggests a ‘goal’, when really, I suppose, I’m just being lazy. But having said that, given the current mental health crisis which seems to be gripping the nation, I don’t see anything wrong with enjoying a simple contentment in doing nothing and possibly even revelling in a bit of boredom.

Perhaps I could hold evening classes to pass on some of my expertise. But that, of course, will have to wait until lockdown ends. In the meantime, I’m happy to do my bit in keeping the nation safe.

Rules, regulations, etiquette, protocols and manners . . . we’re used to them and the British, probably above all nations, are used to living by them - it’s what made the Empire great (if you accept that particular interpretation of history).

Always pass the port to the left, never be seen in red and green, give up your seat on the train to a woman or senior citizen, don’t speak with your mouth full - a ‘rule’ for every situation.

So, as you’d expect, we’ve adopted the coronavirus regulations like ducks to water:

  • Stay at home
  • Wash your hands regularly
  • Cough or sneeze into your elbow
  • No street parties
  • Observe social distancing - at least two metres apart at all times (though I’m not quite sure why my wife insists on me maintaining this distance in the house…)

All straightforward, easy-to-follow instructions - but are they comprehensive enough? I think not. I’ve been faced with a series of situations since lockdown which don’t seem to have yet been considered by our etiquette experts and since, at all other times, I’ve been staying at home, they’ve happened during my ‘exercise hour’ when I take to the paths and lanes around my village to stretch my legs.

For example, a couple of evenings ago, I rounded the bend in a wide grassy track to find a family coming in the other direction - the mother shrieked, grabbed the smallest child and darted behind a nearby tree. Now the question is, do still I smile and say a hearty ‘good evening’ as I normally would, given that the woman has just made me feel like the child snatcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang? Do I scowl at them for treating me as such? Or do I just accept that normal good manners are ‘suspended’ during lockdown?

And then, of course, there are innumerable questions that all those new joggers and cyclists that currently seem to fill every road and path need to ask themselves, like ‘should I really be squeezing past those pedestrians on this narrow path?’ ‘Am I being a bit too free with my hot, sweaty body and heavy breathing?’ ‘Does the two metre social distancing rule apply to me when I’m out exercising?’. I think it calls for a leaflet from the Government!

Since my last Coronavirus log contribution:

Highlight: Being given the green light by the government to stare at the wall and do nothing.

Lowlight: Receiving daily updates on the growing tally of coronavirus cases in my dad’s care home and feeling absolutely helpless!