Coronavirus: London’s getting less ‘lockdowny’ - but what about the toilets?
- Credit: Oli Clark
Beatrix Clark contemplates the small pleasures to be found as lockdown eases.
The world, in some aspects at least, is starting to feel slightly less Lockdowny (a word I’ve just invented to add to the many that have sprung up of late. Understanding the language of this pandemic, from the R rate and flattening the curve to travel corridors and quarantinis, is a challenge in itself).
Ever since Boris told us we can meet one non-family member outside, someone, on the quiet, is having the odd drink in the garden with a friend or three (no hugging), someone else has been visiting an elderly relative, and certain individuals’ hair (definitely the woman on Sky News) appears suddenly to have been professionally cut and coloured.
Mr Whippy (hardly a key worker) has returned to the park, the North Circular is heaving and a few businesses are slowly starting to respond to calls and emails - though sadly not Ikea, whose AI customer services emoji is beyond useless.
All of which, aside from the traffic, are small causes for celebration, but each time we start fantasising about cancelling our Zoom subscriptions or booking a mini-break we are confronted with reminders that life is still extremely far from normal.
For starters there’s nowhere to go to the loo. The government decreed we can enjoy unlimited exercise outside but what are you supposed to do after a six-mile hike when nature calls and the local pub is firmly shut? I’ve come a cropper several times, most recently on a day trip (totally legit) to the Chilterns with my husband and daughter. We loved the change of scene but could really have done with a pint/spritzer/toilet at the end of it.
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The new rules of shopping in actual shops too will take some getting used to – endless queueing, one-way systems, the one family member only rule and having to make an appointment to view a few carpet samples.
And those don’t include clothes shopping - God knows how that will work, or perhaps it won’t and we’ll stop acquiring unnecessary items made in dodgy factories and be satisfied with the occasional vegan leather handbag purchased from a sustainable website.
And just when conversation begins to encompass the odd non-Coronavirus related topic like on-line dating – which, apparently, is thriving – a government advisor sparks fresh controversy, the media descend like hyenas and we’re back, one and all, discussing the current situation. Even our latest quiz invitation (yep we’re still doing them) requested that we dress in our own Covid 19 PPE made from readily available household items. To our youngsters’ amusement we produced quite a creation and – kudos – came second.
There’s no escaping the fact that the C word, and its ramifications, will be with us for months if not years – as, no doubt, will the lack of consensus over the degree to which our lives should be restricted.
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Ultimately people need to work, study and have a life. Ultimately, within the confines of what’s available – currently still not much – and our individual circumstances we will make our own choices, hopefully employing common sense and a suitable amount of hand sanitizer after those illicit socially distant barbecues.