Quiet, but not quite quiet enough.

With the sudden sharp and shocking increase in Coronavirus infections there are fewer people out and about, and they seem to be moving slower, more carefully, more wary and considerate, aware of the fragility of life and taking the time to live its most mundane moments more fully.

The traffic is sparser and has lost the feverish quality of the return to normal that everyone knew wasn’t a return to normal, a sense of living on thinner ice than we’d thought, with too many cars moving too fast, hurrying through, cutting each other up, drivers with frightened eyes, vehicular Social Darwinism; now back to the calm between storms.

Outside Tesco, it is peaceful and tidy. A few weeks ago there were flocks of discarded plastic bags doing dances in the air on the vortexes of wind that were whipping and wheeling, floating up and drifting down, like some elegant, new, ugly life form.

In the meadowed part of the park, the wildflowers planted by the council to save the bees are having a late surge; now head high in places, an impressionists palette of magenta, buttery yellow and cornflower blue waving in the wind and pale autumn light. Magnificent.

Passing the local High School – on the “concern” list for the Local Authority after cases of COVID – and a year group “bubble” is out in the lower school playground. A couple of hundred students scattered in the usual tight clumps, giving no impression that anything unusual is going on.

Though the Moot of eight old chaps that used to sit in a circle smack in the middle and take it in turns to hold forth and put the world to wrongs has dispersed, the socially distanced Yoga class on the far side of the park carries on as normal with all thirty of its participants doing the downward dog in a wide circle, rule of six or no rule of six. Were they to be arrested, the charge sheet would be surreal. A few elderly people without masks puff and wheeze on the outdoor gym.

Picking up some light reading from the library and both the latest Le Carre (1) and Mick Herron (2) efforts involve increasing tension between UK and German Intelligence in the context of Brexit; with double agent plots in both. Herron’s barely disguised satire on Boris Johnson gets full marks from a battery of reviewers in the Telegraph, Mail and Express; indicating more self awareness from those titles in their culture section than they would ever admit to in News and Comment. Surprising they didn’t called it treasonous.

In my local Tesco they have moved the toilet rolls into the same row as the Newspapers. Looking at the headlines this morning, I can see their point.

1. Agent running in the field.

2. Joe country.

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