At the very start of the pandemic, when lockdown was speculation not certainty, I was in London.
The tube trains were crowded, the pubs packed and there was an air of incredulity about seeing folk in face masks. Like that would work.
Fast forward more than three months and I consider myself thoroughly enlightened.
I would no more go into a shop without covering my face than leave the house without trousers on. For which everyone can be thankful, on both counts.
I have even become a fashionista… no, not about the trousers. I’m still all about the jeans from George. But I now have three – count ’em Jim, three – different face masks.
I invested in a simple black one that was fine for the job, lightweight and easy to stick in a pocket and forget. So much so I forgot which pocket it was in and had to get another one.
Cue the natty tartan iteration, with a strap for around your head, which also means you can just leave it around your neck when you are out and about, before you go into shops.
The thing is, the elastic can give me Shrek ears if I don’t adjust it properly. And since I bear a passing resemblance to the ogre in the first place I try to adjust as properly as I can. For the record, as I was reaching into my pocket to get out my phone to pay contactless, there was my first face mask. Oh well, why not have two?
Indeed, why not have three, when I discovered my sister was churning out homemade face masks and asked if wanted one with a Batman design. Silly question. Who wouldn’t?
So, now I have a trio of coverings and still have to turn back to the house when I’m halfway down the road because I’ve forgotten to take any of them.
The thing is, though, I do turn back and I do wear them. So does virtually everyone else, without a murmur. It’s not just because it is mandatory, but because it makes sense.
Why not protect yourself and be grateful others are protecting you?
Which is why I was astonished when the move to make face masks mandatory in English shops was met with such a howl of protest about state interference and oppression.
Being a little inconvenienced is not being oppressed. And ignoring good advice because you don’t like the source is, well, madness.
It’s a fascinating glimpse into the mindset of some, though. They will embrace the devastation of austerity and the self-harm of Brexit, but cut up their Tory membership cards because they have to protect other people when they are doing their shopping.
That is selfish writ large – and a sad and empty way to see the world.
Anyway, the rest of us have got this and we’ll look after each other – because that’s the right thing to do.
Some things haven’t changed after all
The last time I was on a train, I was heading home to enter lockdown.
I put that right last week with a trip into town and discovered some things hadn’t changed. The train was late.
I also discovered some folk think the two metre rule doesn’t count if you’re sitting behind someone (in an empty carriage) or take your face mask off to bellow into your mobile.
So, young lady, if you’re wondering why we moved seats, go figure.
Enjoy your pints – but remain on task
And they’re open…
For more than three months I have been dreaming about my first pint in a pub and finally I’m living the dream.
Not that the first one lasted long, mind you. But I did pause long enough to give a wee toast to the folk who made this possible – and not just in the Marine (where else was I going first after lockdown?)
Every single pub and restaurant in the north-east, across Scotland, in fact, has pulled out all the stops to reopen after the devastation coronavirus has wrought on their industry. They are facing huge pressures from the restrictions they face and the new way of working involved for everyone.
But they know it is for a good reason – to keep people safe.
They are having to get used to it quickly – and so are we.
It will be a long time before going to the pub is what it was.
But we’re on the road toward that now and will stay on it if we all play nicely.
So, enjoy yourselves, again – and remember we are all still on the frontline in the fight to beat Covid-19. Do your bit and stay safe.