Here in the Wold, three weeks on from the first stirrings of lockdown, very little seems to be happening. In fact, a sort of routine seems to be acting out, as the vast majority of residents fall into step with the restrictions. As in other places, there are one or two that can’t or won’t agree with everything, but in the end as most are fairly law abiding, people seem to be following government ‘guidance’ or ‘advice’. For how long, and with what repercussions for the government or society in general, remains to be seen.
Life is going on – albeit in a more restrained manner – people who have to, go to work, because they can’t work at home or are emergency service or key workers and everyone still seems to be quietly getting on with life. Graffiti has appeared on walls and pavements encouraging us to love the NHS or Save the NHS which is all very well but other sections of the working population seem not to be held in as much esteem; singling out one section of the working population above all others seems bit odd to me and rather elitist, particularly as care workers in residential homes caring for the often very frail and elderly, seem totally forgotten.
Those loving the organisation of the NHS may also like to ask themselves how the thousands of unpaid carers battling on, looking after elderly disabled parents or adult children, often for years not a few weeks, are faring in these difficult times. Without courier drivers, transport drivers, shop workers, refuse collectors, sewage workers, power workers and others, the whole country would soon grind to a stinking halt.
The thing is though, those workers, in the main, don’t have fictional TV series made about them; the ‘linemen’ of the country that are out in all weathers and conditions bring childishly named ‘lecky’ to your home and local institutions including the NHS, or ‘Rover Crew’ featuring the lives and worries of the ‘Bin Men’ or the problems of ‘Rosie’ the recycling centre manager, still dealing with residents complaining that ‘they’ have shut the tip, and how disgraceful that is as ‘we pay extra’ for our green waste to be collected of which there will apparently be loads more now that so many people have been ‘furloughed’ (often on full pay it must be said) or are ‘working,’ at home doing what they apparently did at elsewhere.
Let’s hope they all store their recycling garden or otherwise in a responsible manner and don’t dump it just anywhere, as apparently has already happened at some recycling sites. If that happens, we could presumably be seeing more government ‘instructions’ enforced by ‘plod’. You can just imagine the scene as drivers are stopped and tightly boxed in by two black unmarked police cars, shocked drivers questioned, “is that your refuse madam, did you pack it yourself, I’m afraid that those out of date avocados you bought do not comply with the government’s disposal of rubbish guidelines and fall into the inappropriate category. This is a fixed penalty notice for £80.” You think that could never happen?
And working from home they appear to be, as a routine sets in, not too early though, as most seem to be treating the situation as some sort of holiday. On my (admittedly early morning ) exercise walk with the dog it’s as quiet as a churchyard, few houses show any signs of life and the number of dog walkers, despite the dog population increasing in recent years thanks to the newly retired getting a ‘dog’ for company or the ‘time poor cash rich’ millennials purchasing their two ‘labbies’ to go with the prestige 4×4, few, if any normally ‘walk the dog’ certainly not in the morning or late evening. The local ‘dog walker’ though has certainly noticed a difference as bookings have declined, perhaps those working from home are walking their own dogs, while others have decided to ‘cut back’ until the way forward becomes clearer.
Part of my walk takes me along the ‘A’ main road, on which traffic has markedly declined to almost, but not quite, Christmas Day levels. What is noticeable is the sudden dearth of prestige white or black saloon cars, usually driven by men in white shirts and often sporting ties, presumably the ‘new’ power dressing item for aspiring middle managers, or women, mostly blonde (we will know if this is real in a few more weeks if hairdressers stay closed) and for some reason, even on dull days, large eighties-type sunglasses, which are presumably the equivalent of the men’s ties.
Oddly the numbers of large 4×4’s have also disappeared. Their occupants, usually female and with two or more children in the back, blast through the village on their way to their first appointment of the day, which was to park on the pavements outside local schools to the annoyance of many before dashing off to that very important something or other that now seems not to have been that important after all.
What is clear and obvious is the number of older cars on the road, mostly five to ten years old judging by their number plates, and usually with a single occupant. Presumably these are the essential and key workers who are just not able to work from home, probably many of the same people that society little values or notices except when they are not there.
[To be continued in Part 2 tomorrow]