Sitting at a table on Wetherspoon’s terrace with the News Shopper spread out, I sipped a take away coffee and looked up at the lifeless windows, recalling the days when they sold beer here. Then it was difficult to find a table among the crowd of chatting, laughing people. What a pleasure it would be, to sit and watch the world go by while enjoying the paper and a pint.
I caught sight of a few advertisements for barbers and hairdressers, offering home visits and a mobile phone number to ring. Instinctively I checked my reflection in a darkened window; glasses, baseball hat and Corona Crop sprouting out the sides. Ah, one day- a pint and a haircut.
My wife had waited eleven weeks for a hospital appointment, instead of the scheduled six. Understandable under the circumstances, part of the delay was due to the relevant clinic having moved to another hospital. This was to isolate them from the unit dealing with the Virus in the local hospital.
There were car parking spaces, amazing, as regular hospital users will appreciate the joy of finding even one. The foyer of this unfamiliar place was deserted, no guide to the multitude of floors and departments, except notices.
One on the lift doors stated that only two people were to use the lift at one time, an effort to maintain social distancing, but it was embarrassing when barring the door to the chap with the axe in his head. I hope he got the next one.
Two receptionists manned the clinic desk and pointed to the hand sanitiser. A line of chairs formed a barricade along the desk front to enforce distancing. Then a masked nurse took my temperature via my ear, although I was not the patient. Normal temperatures were allowed access to a corridor leading to the unit. A surreal, long and silent walk, unlike the usual lively hospital vibe.
In the waiting area scores of empty chairs lay vacant. Alternate yellow seats bore notices banning their use. They weren’t needed today; socialising could not exist in this abandoned place.
The appointment was over swiftly and the pharmacy produced the goods in minutes. The process was completed and more sanitizer applied, leaving the building even before the scheduled appointment time! It’s people that slow things down.
After 10 weeks, Thursday 28 May was the last clapping event for NHS staff and other essential workers. Annemarie Plas, who created the weekly tribute, thought it best to cease while it was at its peak, she also felt that it was becoming politicised.