From Brenda in Hove, UK: Brave New World

15 May: Under the new “stay alert” strictures I have gone out to discover what changes have been wrought in my immediate environment. Joy of joys, we went to our favourite garden centre, dutifully queued up at 2 metres intervals, for about twenty minutes, to gain entrance. One person in, one person out. When I got into the centre, it put a damper on me thinking there was a queue outside and I couldn’t just wander about, picking and choosing in the usual way. I happened to know what I wanted and found them very quickly and was out in about 15 minutes. Not so others – ambling aimlessly about, retracing their footsteps, forgetting about the 2 metre rule, looking vaguely anxious – and not alert. At one time I was in an aisle where people were queued and one person’s phone rang. She stopped dead to answer it and completely forgot we were all waiting behind her. When I reminded her, she got really cross! The whole excursion wasn’t much fun – but I did come home clutching some beautiful fuchsias.

I was interested to note that I was the only person wearing a mask. This is also not much fun. I wear hearing aids and spectacles and when you hook a mask behind your ear as well, it gets really crowded behind there! The hearing aid got caught in the mask elastic and fell off – and I didn’t notice until much later. After much searching, luckily, I found it in the car. And, by the way, if you wear spectacles and the mask isn’t very tightly fitted, your spectacles mist up. Holy mackerel.

The park is much more lively, I am happy to report. All the tennis courts were in use (singles only). Why on earth they could not have played all this time is a mystery to me – just one of many other mysteries. People were sitting on the lawns and enjoying the sunny weather – many of them alone or with their children. Again, innocent enough to have happened before now. Presumably they now know they have to be alert! Every now and again one can’t help noticing obsessive behaviour. No matter what time of day I go out there is always the same young man (in his twenties, I would think) shooting a ball into the basketball net – over and over again. His success rate is abysmal. I linger to see if he is getting better. He is not – but not for want of trying. He must be ill. There are lots more people, mostly young, who are clearly meeting with one or two friends (mothers with push chairs, for example) – and they are not being too fussy about the two metre rule. Not a lert to be seen – just when our country needs them.  

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