On our Wedding Anniversary this week, I walked through this little town to do some shopping for a slap-up breakfast and what a gorgeous early morning it was. The low sun sparkled, glowing the old honey coloured stone buildings, warming my heart. Being lock-in, lock-down, life-on-hold times, I had the pavements mostly to myself, but it was very early.
Rounding the paved path skirting our ancient church, I came across a woman pushing a bike with shopping bags dangling from every appendage so with a laugh I flattened against the cast iron railings, “Good morning.” She shot me a look we’re all becoming used to - fear, and looked away, shoved her bike hard against the low garden wall defining the path’s far side, sped past. This look was to fall from others four times during our afternoon walk, the last being when a rotund family wobbled through a triangular square. There was plenty of room, but their looks said it all - “How dare you inhabit this space! Your crutch means you must be Corona-ed. Get out our way!” That they were grossly over weight probably explains why - diabetics, vulnerable, perhaps as much as me. My friend Richard who is as slim as a stick has lived with Type 1 Diabetes since childhood.
In each case, I smiled, gently wished them a safe day. Why increase the angst when we are all under huge pressure. On that last occasion, I’d been talking, at more than the requisite 2m distance, to a 90 year old and we’d giggled at the situation. As a teenager she watched German bombers blitz her area of London flat. But even in those days held up as exemplary for the Great British Spirit, my mother was booed when doing her officer-duty by giving a pep-talk in the tiny fishing town, Salcombe, Devon.
Clacking my crutches, heart pounding, breath suspiciously corona-short, I devoured the pavement at half of everyone else’s speed. Quite a sight - a once Olympian body straining at a pedestrian pace. Exhausted by my 600m walk, I slept in the late afternoon sun warming the paved yard of this empty rental and dreamt of comfort, wondered if we’ll ever get into the uninhabitable house we’ve recently bought, for the builder is now in isolation with Coronavirus. I woke, made us a pot of tea. Later, inside, as we cooked supper, I was a fool prancing to rock on the radio as I digested my plethora of pills. We laughed, we have each other and we have love.
Life really is what you make it.