Tag Archives: social distancing

Furlow

During the time

Of Corona, girls unseen
May fulfill a lonely man’s dream.
While poets smile
And spend their time
Composing rhyme.

“An Englishman’s home is his castle”
Neighbours say.
And, wishing to avoid hassle
They look the other way
As girls (ineligible for furlow)
Come and go.

And time
Hangs heavy on the poet’s hands.
Therefore, he composes rhyme
About a crossed line,
And resistance
To social distance

Lockdown and the Visually Impaired

As a registered blind person, I rely on the assistance of others (often strangers) in unfamiliar situations. My guide dog Trigger does an excellent job of helping to navigate London’s busy streets safely. He can not, however help me to find the platform in a station I rarely (if ever) use. Consequently I rely on sighted assistance in such situations.

The best way to guide a visually impaired person is to allow them to take your arm, and I have been assisted in this manner more times than I’ve enjoyed hot dinners. However, with the Social Distancing introduced as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, this kind of assistance is, apparently becoming increasingly difficult to obtain. Take, for example this email I received in response to my query sent to Transport for London:

“This question has actually been raised and answered already in our FAQs for station staff. Our intention is to carry on assisting Visually Impaired People in every situation. We will continue to provide assistance when asked, escort VIPs to platforms and onto trains, and also radio ahead for assistance at destinations whenever requested.

The two metre distancing rule will indeed mean we have to avoid direct contact and will make it harder to escort customers within stations, so extra time should be allowed for this. Nevertheless we will continue to do it as best we can.”

Just how (applying the 2 metre rule) will a visually impaired person be prevented from falling over obstacles, tripping on escalators etc?

Whilst I do, of course recognise the need for TFL employees to remain free (so far as is humanly possible) of Corona, I can’t help but wonder whether the use of a mask by employees, coupled with the changing of overalls after having conducted the visually impaired person would not be a more practical and sensible solution. Indeed if the visually impaired individual takes a bare arm, then the application of soap or hand sanatiser after the guidance has taken place would, surely be sufficient to prevent the possibility of COVID infection?

If any scientists happen to read this post, I would be interested to know your thoughts. In particular what are the possibilities of COVID being passed from a customer to a member of station staff (or, indeed the other way around) in what is, almost always a transaction of a few minutes?

Whilst walking through the woods yesterday, a gentleman offered his arm and helped me to pass some fallen branches which were blocking the woodland track. This response heartened me and contrasts quite starkly with the beurocratic position adopted by TFL and (doubtless) other service providers.

Of course the gentleman and I where in the good fresh air which does, I understand greatly reduce the possibility of passing the virus, particularly if one is in contact with another person only briefly. However this gentleman showed common decency and I’m grateful to him for his act of kindness.

There have been reports of neighbours and others reporting people for breaking social distancing rules. Perhaps the most famous example of this (although I have no idea who tipped off the press, or whether it was down to investigative journalism or muckraking depending on one’s perspective), was the revelation that Neil Ferguson (the scientist who’s work persuaded the government to introduce the lockdown here in the UK) had, himself been breaking social distancing rules.

The government had advised those in a relationship to either move in together (and not change between their respective homes), or to stop seeing one another during the Corona pandemic. However Professor Ferguson (a proponent of lockdown and social distancing) was found to have been seeing his married lover, (see https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8289921/Scientist-advice-led-lockdown-QUITS-breaking-restrictions-meet-married-lover.html).

There was, I believe a public interest in publishing the fact that a leading proponent of lockdown was breaking the rules which he himself was advocating. However would I, personally report a neighbour if I became aware that they where seeing people in their home who did not form part of their household?

The answer to the above question is no. Whilst I am, of course concerned about Corona, I don’t wish to live in a society where (as in the former East Germany/the German Democratic Republic) or Nazi Germany, people inform on their neighbours. To me someone beating their partner (or a child) is a very good reason for calling the police, but that same man (or woman) seeing friends, a partner who doesn’t live with them, or a casual lover is not. To me what goes on behind the closed doors of a person’s home is no concern of mine (apart from the exceptions outlined above).

Kevin

The World After the Corona Lockdown

I have been thinking a lot recently about the effect of COVID19 (the Corona Virus) on society and, in particular on human relationships.

To state a truism, we humans are social animals, and, with a few exceptions we all crave company from time to time. Even in this increasingly technologically driven society, individuals still enjoy face-to-face interactions, whether that be a meal in a restaurant, a drink with friends in the pub, or intimate time spent with a lover.

Today’s World at 1 on BBC Radio 4, https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m000h8gg, contains discussions regarding whether face masks should be adopted by everyone as a means of ending the lockdown currently in place in the United Kingdom and elsewhere. The view expressed by the scientists/doctors was that masks should be reserved for health service professionals in the first instance then, once shops start to re-open for those professions where close contact can not be avoided, for example the hairdressing profession. In the longer-term it was argued that everyone might need to wear masks in public, at least until a vaccine is made available.

My thoughts on this are as follows:

1. I don’t at all relish the prospect of walking through the woods, parks etc and not being able to properly appreciate the scents of nature owing to the presence of a face mask. The wind on one’s face and the scent of new mown grass is one of life’s pleasures.

2. How exactly would face masks operate in settings such as restaurants and pubs/clubs? So far as I know, its impossible (or extremely difficult) to eat and drink whilst wearing a face mask. I haven’t tried doing this, so stand to be corrected. However, even if it is possible, I can imagine getting food, drink etc on the mask thereby impairing it’s effectiveness, not to mention making the wearer look rather messy!

3. Related to 2 above, Even if “social distancing” is maintained, I assume that friends, family members etc will be able to sit together, otherwise one of the greatest pleasures of eating out (convivial company) is thrown away. Also, in smaller establishments, its difficult to imagine how tables could be kept sufficiently apart to comply with the 2 metre “Social distancing” rule. Likewise (in the case of clubs where people dance) just, how exactly will “social distancing” be practiced and/or enforced? Will people dance with one another in masks, then use hand sanatiser once they have finished their dance? And what happens if (as frequently occurs) a couple decide to go home together? In the latter case “social distancing” goes out the window …

4. Leading on from 3 above, what happens to dating? Apart from the pleasure derived from relationships (whether long-term or otherwise), sex is necessary to perpetuate the species.

This article, https://www.dw.com/en/love-in-the-time-of-coronavirus-covid-19-changes-the-game-for-online-dating/a-52933001, indicates that the dating game is alive and well at the time of the Lockdown. However many people appear to be interacting online, but not meeting. One assumes that serious relationships will develop and individuals will meet when COVID19 is, so far as is possible beaten or contained.

5. I was not surprised to learn that escorts are continuing to ply their trade despite the lockdown, as exemplified in this article, https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8188793/Manchester-City-star-Kyle-Walker-hosted-sex-party-two-escorts-coronavirus-lockdown.html. I shall refrain from any comment on this particular story.

On a personal level, I am looking forward to sharing a few pints (and a nice meal) in a restaurant once the Lockdown is over.

Kevin

He Stood to the Side of the Path

He stood to the side of the path
So that I might in safety pass.
I turned my face away
On a beautiful, spring day.
But thanked him with a smile, while
Pondering on what constitutes a safe distance,
And the persistence
Of common courtesy.
And what did he
Think of me
As I turned my face away?
I can not say,
But suspect he understood
As we did pass
Along that tranquil, woodland path.