Today’s Big News: I caught a bus. Yes. It was a number 40 from Ludgate Hill and for the whole of our journey Celia and I had the top deck to ourselves. For some of the journey we were the only passengers. I didn’t use my bus pass, I learned that travel is free on the buses at the moment. I knew you had to enter by the centre doors and the seats near the driver were taped off, but somehow I had assumed payment was still required.
We had been for a walk in the City away from our neighbourhood where social distancing has become passé for a considerable number of the inhabitants. The same for people by London Bridge too apparently. What a contrast with my two previous trips to the City. London Bridge was comparatively busy. No one was bothering to move to the other side of the pavement when someone approached from the other direction. How quickly we are resuming our old habits. Mysteriously the same people somehow vanished once London Bridge was crossed. Where did they go? We went down to the Tower, then through to Leadenhall Market, to Bank Junction and the Royal Exchange. hardly a soul. A brief segue into Marks and Spencer on Cheapside, then onto St Paul’s and then the bus stop.
It was Celia who suggested the bus option. I confess I was surprised. But it was cold, Celia was cold, and we hadn’t seen a bus with more than three people on it, so fair enough. And as Celia said once we were seated on the two double seats at the front of the bus on the top deck, we should be alert. We weren’t awfully sure what we were being alert about, but we weren’t dozing or anything like that so presumably we were following the latest leaked guidelines. I’ve just read them. There are important aspects of my work I cannot do at home, but somehow I don’t think the new guidelines mean I should resume work on Wednesday. Better to stick with the podcasting for the time being and thank my stars I’m frugal as another month without any income comes to a close.
Not that I think lockdown should end yet. Hundreds have died this weekend; there’s still the probability of a second spike. This easing does feel more about efforts to save the economy than to save lives. Judging by the behaviours I have witnessed this weekend many people have decided lockdown is over, no matter what the government says. It is impossible for the police to enforce social distancing if people don’t comply. A couple of weeks ago Celia and I had a conversation with a woman I recognised because earlier in the day she had been in the queue behind me at Morrison’s. We were taken aback when she said she was fed up with being stopped by the police. It had happened to her when she was on foot and when she was driving. Both times she was asked about the purpose of her journey. The only contact we have had with the police has been smiling and friendly. I told Pam and her daughter Kate. They were equally surprised. Neither has been stopped.It was Kate who voiced what we had been thinking, that it was a certain demographic that was being targeted. You don’t have to open your mouth for certain social status signs to be read. Shoes give away a lot, how you carry yourself, your clothes. We adhere to codes of class and education without even realising it. I am not saying I am smartly or expensively dressed – I’m not – and Celia’s straight hair and bob is holding up far better in this time of no haircuts than mine. I could pass for a thatched cottage in a certain light.
So I anticipate that in the days to come it’ll be young black people, asians, and anyone who looks at the lower end of the social scale who will bear the brunt of suspicion.
I look forward to PMQs. Only please don’t let Matt Hancock stand in for Johnson. He makes no sense at all. Do watch this if you haven’t seen it already. Or actually, even if you have. I’m going to.
Stay safe. Keep well.