A Walk in The Park During The Christmas Season Of Goodwill (Don't Breathe On Me)
A Walk In The Park During The Christmas Season Of Goodwill
Could have been my last!
Walking the Dogs in the local Park, with my wife’s son, who lives with us.
It is muddy!
A month or two of rain have gradually turned the grass into a quagmire.
Normally during the Year of Coronavirus I keep my distance from anyone I might meet,
in the park, or anywhere.
In the supermarket at least we have our masks on.
In the open air we should be safe, you would think, to not wear masks!
The two metre rule is still a good one.
It should be particularly easy to follow in the broad spaces of the park,
But not so easy when the grass is a muddy quagmire and no one wants to get their shoes wet and muddy,
Even so, there is a good tarmac path running right around the park,
Wide enough for people to pass without getting too close if they stay to each other’s side of the path.
We have been walking around in this park and in quite a few others quite safely in the last ten months,
while the virus crisis has come and gone, and come back again.
Never, not even during the summer, did we stop social distancing.
There were times,
when the weather was nice,
when the parks were really crowded,
but in the summer sun it was easy to walk on the dry grass and be pretty safe.
A couple of parks were really crowded on a Saturday afternoon, once or twice, in a popular part of town,
but even then the other walkers and citizens were polite, tactful, conscious, caring of others.
You always have to beware the youngsters,
who especially during the summer might not remember to be careful,
or don’t really care because they don’t think they will get it.
But none of them really want to get close to mature people anyway.
I remember one of these parks, woods really, and a small river,
crowded just before the first lockdown came in March.
Everyone suddenly knew it was all getting just a bit dangerous,
and for the first time in their lives, they were trying to keep away from each other,
not to breathe in the same air,
to keep the distances we were suddenly being advised to keep.
All of us seemed embarrassed,
that’s the way it seemed to me,
to have chosen the same park on a Saturday afternoon, of all days.
We were all embarrassed,
because we all thought we should all have chosen somewhere more sensible and less crowded to walk and enjoy nature.
But we all distanced as well as we could,
all conscious that we didn’t want the dreaded virus we were being warned of,
nor did we want to give it to anyone else,
just in case any of us might inadvertently have caught it and not know it.
Just recently, during the Season of Goodwill, at Christmas time,
We walked with our dogs around the not very crowded Park,
Passing sensibly other walkers walking towards us, often with their dogs,
Always keeping to separate sides of the path.
Up ahead two young couples walked towards us,
one behind the other, taking the width of the path,
with plenty of room to tighten their formation and allow us to pass on our side.
We approached in single file, little dog on tight lead going first, his lead held by my wife’s son.
I came behind, our large dog off lead as usual, and out scouting on the mud and grass to the left.
Both of us were right at the left edge of the wide path,
allowing maximum space to the young couples who were to pass.
I judged them to be in their twenties, and possibly late teens, not that I looked too closely.
They were just momentary passers by.
I never expected to want to know how old or who they were.
The first couple passed with no trouble, they must have moved to the centre of the path to give us space, as I would have expected.
However Matthew was squeezed to the edge as the long dark haired young woman of the second couple barely moved to let us past.
Then it was my turn.
She barely moved to let us pass.
I think she must have been expecting us both to jump onto the muddy grass, out of her way!
I could smell her perfume, the air she had breathed.
It was a shock, I can tell you, after months of keeping at least a reasonable distance.
How could she get so close?
How did she dare not move for other walkers,
for people twice her age,
for fellow citizens who don’t want the bloody virus,
for citizens who want to stay alive, and healthy, if at all possible.
Did she take pleasure in frightening people,
or was she just genuinely vacant,
wrapped up in romance or in her own priorities of life.
Maybe she was an anti vaxxer,
keen to share all nature’s viruses,
to build up a perfect herd immunity,
or an anti masker who would rather risk the virus than wear a mask,
and didn’t care at all for the opinions of those who thought differently.
She probably was none of those people.
She probably just didn’t feel any risk herself and didn’t care that other people were afraid.
Some form of psychopath, she probably was,
if she so little cared for the health, opinions and cares of others.
Perhaps she did not care whether we, the rest of the population, lived or died.
Would she make a good mother?
Would she care for her own?
And what about her own father and mother, and any grandparents, uncles and aunties.
Would she have cared about them?
It was a good job, right at this moment that she was not living in London or somewhere nearby,
where the new strain of the virus was said to be rampant and spreading more easily than ever before,
latching on to people before they were even aware.
Probably up here in the north she did not have the virus,
but in London right now, with habits like those she would very soon be spreading it to all and sundry who came within her orbit.
I imagined if I was a police officer with some power to deal with those who behaved to the danger of others.
I would approach, at a safe distance,
demand her name and address, and give her a spot fine.
It wouldn’t break the bank,
but it would send a signal to her that she needed to change her behavior and be more careful and caring.
It might just save her and those around her.
Perhaps I would tell her family how she behaved.
Another leap of the imagination and I imagined her being smacked by a big police officer,
as if she were a child, the child that she really was.
Where had she been for the last ten months?
Had she learned nothing?
Did she watch TV?
Was she on the same planet at all?
Thankfully I don’t seem to have developed any obvious symptoms from this brief and unwanted encounter, and neither does Matthew.
But it could just so easily have gone the other way, and the virus could well have ripped through family and support bubble, and even possibly beyond to work contacts, if any precautions failed.