Now that we’ve been told we are allowed to emerge from our cosy bubble, provided, of course, we stay alert, wear a face covering and use our common sense, I’m no longer sure whether it is entirely accurate to continue labelling these blogs ‘self-isolation’.  Though I suppose if we decline the invitation and opt to stay put, it certainly does count as self-isolation, indeed stubborn self-isolation!   Neither my wife nor I have ventured out for ages.  Well, not out out.  We continue to march round our terrace for exercise and that is sort of out, but not an out where we have to social distance.  So, we are hopelessly out of practice.  Encountering other people will be a bit scary.

Never mind, I am prepared.  I have given my bicycle a spring clean anticipating breaking free and pedalling my way around Windsor.  It’s a sit-up-and-beg sort of bike with proper handlebars and a basket.  It’s a Radford in case you’re interested and it has telescopic front forks.  I only mention the forks because they are obviously something to boast about for emblazoned on both it says ‘Forks with Attitude’ (such a surprising claim that it should surely have an exclamation mark).  Anyway, the bike is clean, chrome bits sparkle, all the moving parts have been oiled and the tyres pumped up.

It’s ready to go.  Mind you, my track record with bikes is not particularly distinguished. I once set off on a bike that had a lamp bracket on one of the front forks.  As I gathered speed, I was horrified to see the lamp holder slide down the fork and turn inwards.  It severed all the front wheel spokes − ping, ping, ping. The wheel immediately collapsed (it looked like one of those melted pocket watches slumped over a tree branch in a Salvador Dali painting) and I went flying over the handlebars.  I’m happy to report there is no lamp bracket on my Radford and I’m assuming having forks with attitude offers some sort of protection.

My wife is busy making face masks (sorry, face coverings) from  pieces of material that, before the virus struck, were destined to become patchwork quilts. Bit of a come down really (for the textiles and, I suppose, for my wife) but needs must.  I tried on a prototype, most fetching, but the act of breathing caused my spectacles to mist up. When (if) I venture out into the world outside, my face covering will hopefully afford other people some protection, but staggering around unable to see where I’m going will undoubtedly hamper my ability to obey the government and stay alert.  Perhaps I should go the whole hog and pretend I’m blind and wave a white stick (2 metres long of course) in front of me.  At least that would have the merit of alerting the people I encounter to stay alert and thus provide a useful public service.

This business of staying alert, not to mention using common sense, seems to have caused widespread confusion.  It reminds me of a tour I once took on a visit to St Lucia.  Our guide was a black man with a white beard who proudly announced that he had been a sergeant in the British Army (he was wearing his medals).  Throughout the trip he treated us as if we were raw recruits, shouting his commentary at us.  On the rare occasions when he could think of nothing else to say, he’d suddenly shriek, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, stay alert! Look around you!  Collect the evidence!’  Perhaps that should be the slogan on the podiums when the government does its daily briefings.


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