By Alasdair Crosby
CORONAVIRUS, coronavira, cornonavirum… all day and everyday day we hear nothing except news, details, analysis, prognostications, guidelines , all relating to this highly annoying bug, while we stay under virtual house arrest conditions at home. Suddenly, as in the War, we are being asked: ‘Is your journey really necessary? ’ Keep calm and carry on’ ‘We’ll meet again, don’t know where, don’t know when’.
Even the drawbacks of the wartime Home Front are being replicated, such as the bossy ARP warden, caricatured in ‘Dad’s Army’, shouting ‘PUT THAT LIGHT OUT!’ – it is not hard to find present day equivalents.
With so much space given to coronavirus, I do not feel particularly comfortable adding my own thimbleful of comment to the ocean of words expended every day on the crisis. At the same time, CV is practically the only topic of conversation – if we are actually fortunate enough in having someone to whom to talk!
So might I just say that it seems very ironical that ideas, sentiments or beliefs, which I had thought were totally unexceptional if not mundane, but at the same time unlikely ever to materialise in any major way in my own life suddenly seem to have manifested themselves with dramatic abruptness, in a matter of weeks.
Take the concept of ‘travel’ for example – both out of Island and within it. I have always loved travel: seeing foreign places. Meeting people and broadening my mind thereby. Over the past few years, though, the glitter of travel has largely disappeared for me, since every destination seems remarkably similar to the point of departure. And getting there involves first of all, half undressing while navigating airport security, then being cooped up in an aircraft cabin in over close quarters with ones fellow passengers, queuing at both departure and arrival points, before finding, at journey’s end, a bland tourist hotel surrounded by yet another proliferation of Macdonalds and Costa Coffee outlets, pizza parlours and themed pubs. Why go to such expense and distance to undergo inconvenience and discomfort when you can so easily find it nearer at hand?
Travel within Jersey? Waiting in my car at the exit point of my home to turn on to a main road at a busy time of day has often seemed as difficult and as dangerous as I imagine would be trying to turn straight from a country lane on to a motorway.
Walking down the street in town? It seems increasingly dangerous, with so many other pedestrians in their own private bubble, phone clamped to ear or sending texts, oblivious to any other person’s near presence.
Food: always an interest of mine. I have always been a fan of locally grown and reared produce, local specialities, ‘the wine of the country’, rare breeds, cottage industries, etc. ‘Think twice, buy local’ has always been one of my favourite slogans. Observing seasonality rather than insisting, for example, on buying tasteless strawberries in mid-winter that have been flown from South America.
Keeping one’s distance: I am not radically or aggressively green – very happy to leave environmental activism and all that sort of thing to Miss Thunberg and her supporters. But I have always been happiest in the solitude of the garden, the countryside, riding a horse, walking the dog. What can beat a quiet walk through Rozel Woods, a north coast cliff path, or Les Mielles de Morville?
Nothing very unusual in all of this, surely? I suspect quite a few readers may share some of these likes and dislikes; others may have other preferences and I have no quarrel with that. Live and let live. Others may think my own interests incredibly boring. Some of my own preferences might seem incapable of being realised, but there is no harm in thinking ‘if only things were different’.
Well, suddenly and very abruptly they are different.
No travel – no aeroplanes – less traffic – empty town streets – supermarket shelves with less variety of food – encouragement to buy (and produce) local – social distancing and isolation…
The truth of Aesop’s Fable was never as accurate as in today’s bizarre world: ‘Be careful what you wish for, lest it come true’.