Chiswick Confined – My Corona blog Week 3

Keith Richards, writer and resident of Chiswick, living on his own, has started writing a diary of his Corona lock down. Beginning on 24 March 2020, he’s documenting the experience from his last pint in a pub onwards.

Image above: Turnham Green Terrace

“Some people think that evolutionary psychology claims to have discovered that human nature is selfish and wicked. But they are flattering the researchers and anyone who would claim to have discovered the opposite. No one needs a scientist to measure whether humans are prone to knavery. The question has been answered in the history books………..people treat it like an open question, as if someday science might discover that it’s all a bad dream and we will wake up to find that it is human nature to love one another.”

Steven Pinker

The sunbeams mock us

Somehow, it seems to me that the warmer weather and the sunnier outlook inspire mixed feelings. There is no doubt that brighter evenings and beams of watery sunlight through open windows lighten the mood but somehow they also seem to mock us, house bound as we are.

Well, we should be (house bound that is).  I have been going for my joint exercise/shopping trip most weekdays but generally staying in at weekends when the High Road is at its most busy. There is concern of course that more people will be tempted to break out of their confinement during this long Easter weekend. I can imagine, for example, that the riverside along Chiswick Mall will be pretty ‘chocker’ and I see residents along there have already been complaining.

My hope is that people are sensible and limit their outings to walks, singly or in pairs, and avoid picnics, games and the kinds of activities that make keeping a safe distance impossible. I hope too that cyclists are sensible. Most regular peddlers are both competent on their bikes and less selfish when it comes to sticking to cycle-paths and safer areas. It seems to be the less practiced amateurs who jump on a street hire bike and are, frankly, selfish bastards – often cycling on pavements – and are a danger along the Mall, for example.

The real jeopardy is, that irresponsible behaviour is more likely to push the police into being more aggressive when administering existing rules or that government, either local councils or Westminster, are forced to affect a more stringent lock-down. For those of us with patios and gardens or even decent size apartments, that is an annoyance. For those with large families in small flats or families in social housing or sequestered in estates a total close down becomes a serious threat to mental health. There is already an increase in domestic violence and a more stringent shut down will put many women and children (and, yes, often abused men too) in genuine harms way. It is only the more comfortable in our society for whom a trip in the fresh air is a life-style choice rather than a necessary escape from real depression, pain or physical threat.

As I have mentioned before, my sister lives in Spain, as do other friends and some of the stories I have been told illustrate what could happen here.  I know that people have been fined, and sometimes we are talking thousands of Euros, for walking their dog more than 200 metres from home, walking along the beach instead of the road and even sitting on their own doorstep with a guitar (not even playing it).

For another alternative reality, I have just spoken to a friend in rural France. Once a week they are allowed a single drive to the local town to go shopping – just for food or medicine – with identification and a list of their shopping which the supermarket will date for when the police stop you and check, which they frequently do. Everyone in Europe I speak to think that the UK is mad to have such relaxed rules but many of them are feeling the strain after five weeks or so of containment (much longer in Italy of course).  Our reputation has already plummeted as our apparent desperation for toilet paper has been the butt of European Social Media, not to mention the lunacy of our prime mister going from boasting about shaking hands to being in intensive care within the space of a couple of weeks.

I will pop out for probably my last shop this evening (Thursday as I write this) for fresh provisions for the weekend – and from local shops.* I will take pains to keep my distance and respect the wishes of those who also seek to avoid contamination.  I will be grateful that I live in a place where the shops are still open and that I am able to use them.

If there are enough idiots out over this Easter period who do not have that respect or that flout government guidelines we will end up with the kind of enforced restrictions that are the reality across most of the rest of Europe.  If that happens all of us will suffer, particularly those that are genuine in their need to get out for a few minutes. The thoughtlessness and selfishness of the few over the weekend could endanger the lives of many and cause distress to those that are not as fortunate as us.  Think about it.

  • Just to repeat my usual mantra about supporting local shops. If you ever need a better reason, how about Tesco paying a Dividend of £637 Million dividend, part of a total of £900 million for the twelve months up to February, when they have just received what is effectively an £700 Million subsidy from the Governments Business rates holiday?  Whatever happens during this crisis they will still be there at the end.  Our local butchers, greengrocers, bakeries and neighbourhood shops will not be unless we support them now.

Read more blogs by Keith

Read the next in the series – My Corona blog Week 4

Read the previous one – My Corona blog Week 2

See all Keith’s My Corona blogs here.

See more of Keith’s work on his website – outsiderinside.co.uk

Feel free to post any comments or suggestions there or by email to keith@outsiderinside.co.uk

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