We had some maintenance work done at home last week. The cost seems to have doubled in the last six months, presumably down to all the furloughed or working from home people taking the opportunity to get things done and spend some of the billions they have apparently saved over the last year. The job progressed satisfactorily and was completed on time and at quoted price. As he hadn’t a ‘swipe card machine’ he asked if we could pay by cash, ordinarily not a problem, except now in their quest to improve the ‘customer service experience’, our local bank has reduced staffing levels and reduced opening hours, which often means people queuing up outside to maintain social distancing rules.

Once inside it’s more or less normal service, except from a distance of 2 metres the ‘teller’ demands to know, within the hearing of all and sundry, what you are going to do with the cash you are withdrawing and by the way – if you want the amount being withdrawn in notes larger than £10 or £20, you have to pre-order them, as, wait for it, ‘they don’t’ keep notes in the larger, say £50 denominations’. You have got to, as they say, be kidding me,

Certainly, here in the Wold tradespeople have been very evident for many months now as new home extensions, drives, fitted kitchens and bathrooms have been completed without, it seems, any problems with labour or materials. I’m quite surprised actually by the amount that seems to be being spent on ‘big ticket’ items as such expenditure is termed these days. Even after the New Year lockdown was announced, things carried on more or less as normal, with new cars being delivered to owners by trailer and the part exchange vehicle trailered away as part of the online ‘click and collect’ deal strategy that much of the motor trade has adopted.

Landscapers and driveway specialists have also enjoyed plenty of work, as a walk along the main road  before 8am in the morning proves, when legions of small vans and trucks hurry through on their way to the next job. Oddly enough, although vehicle traffic is still less than pre-covid, on the  ‘A’  road through the Wold – part of a busy commuter route in more normal times – the speed of the traffic is still much higher than the posted limit, which is interesting as surely less traffic means less congestion and traffic jams, or perhaps the drivers are so surprised by less traffic they are enjoying the experience by driving even faster than usual as they belt along on their way to their obviously essential work.

There never seemed to be much thought behind many of the covid restrictions that have been imposed on us during the last year,  but I still fail to see how it’s supposedly safe, for  example, that a carpet fitter can drive thirty miles and work in somebody’s house for a day or so while it’s not ‘safe’ for somebody to visit their next-door neighbour’s home. Maybe it’s the same science that says that it’s safe for professional footballers  to play, but not safe for two golfers to play golf in splendid isolation on a golf course.

Last week I had to attend a dental surgery as ’some bridge work’ had come loose, everything went well I’m happy to say. An appointment was made over the phone, the receptionist  giving me the rundown on what to expect on arrival. Don’t come early she said, try to arrive on time, wait in your car, call us from your mobile to tell us you have arrived, and the nurse will then come and collect you.

Nurse duly came out and collected me and  escorted me to the main entrance where, standing in a marked square on the floor, I sanitised my hands, answered the usual covid questions including have you been contacted by ‘Track and Trace, and was then allowed to walk on to the reception counter and sign the treatment form with duly sanitised pen and pay ‘card only’ for safety reasons.

Once in the ‘surgery’, dentist and nurse, masked, gloved and wearing full personal protective  workwear and working in a well-ventilated surgery with windows open, the procedure took place and in about fifteen minutes I was ushered out by another exit. All very professional and well-ordered as you may expect.

I did wonder, as I walked back to the car, why the local hairdresser who had taken exactly the same covid safety precautions had been forced to close their business since the start of lockdown three. Perhaps it’s down to the amount of time spent in the ‘chair?’ Who knows? At any rate, the previously mentioned ‘footballers’ seem not to have any problem getting smart haircuts judging by their appearance on TV of late.

My friend said he thought that was down to them not being able to play with long hair, but I  pointed out that one of the greatest footballers of modern times, George Best, never had any difficulty playing with long hair, a point with which he agreed and which sort of killed the argument.

It would seem that many people have now decided to venture out into the great outdoors again as  the parks and hills around here, particularly the ones with car parks, have suddenly become rather busy on most days which is odd as apparently according to the mainstream media the majority of people are still either furloughed or working from home or both. Maybe all those visitors belong to the octanagerian age group who the media says keep breaking the rules as they feel free to do after having the ‘jab’.


[To be continued tomorrow with Part 2)


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