Coronavirus Chronicles 7

7 May – Day 51

Today, as I tied the laces of my leather shoes, I realised that it had been some time since I had enjoyed the comfortable fit of ‘proper’ shoes. Most of the occasions that I have left the house over the past seven weeks, have been for one hour of permitted exercise. Feet have been shod in walking boots; they are also good attire for standing around outside shops.

For most people walking and cycling are now the normal way to get around, followed by running and last of all, driving. As one wit put it – ‘I’m getting 3 weeks to the gallon out of my car.’ The decline in driving has reflected in petrol prices. I’ve noticed prices as low as £1.06 per litre, compared with upwards of £1.25 before lockdown. The long-term effect of the pandemic on the world’s economy is now of great concern. The oil producing nations, are running out of storage facilities for crude oil and petrol. Recently the price of crude dropped to an historic negative value! In theory the purchase of a barrel would cost the buyer nothing and include a payment to them!

The restrictions on movement felt worse during the recent wet spell. Awareness of the length of time already endured and the uncertain future brought more clouds into ‘Virusville.’ The rain washed away the chalk drawings from the Church drive leaving a blank space like the one depicting our future.

There’s been a shift in the mood of the population. The new ways are getting tiresome. Friends living alone find their days tedious without human contact. The quiet streets have become dead streets. It’s not worth dropping into a shop for a single item, because of the extra time it takes queueing. This applies to all high street businesses; there are queues outside banks, pharmacies, DIY stores and even the chip shop.

The ‘chippy’ has adapted well, only two customers are allowed in the shop at any one time, but an assistant with a note pad takes the orders from the waiting customers and passes them indoors so that frying can get under way. So personal contact is kept to a minimum and food is bagged up and ready to go by the time customers progress indoors. Home delivery is popular and the queue are treated to some nifty motor cycle manoeuvres as the riders’ scramble to collect their delivery orders.

As I walk home swinging a bag of fish and chips an empty bus pulls away from the stop. Social distancing is hard to maintain on a bus, so there are fewer passengers, if any, these days. They are required to enter the bus from the middle door because drivers are more exposed from the front entry door, and many have contracted the virus. Nearer home now, a train rattles down the tracks sounding empty, or is it just me?

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