A quarter

“Do you remember when we had the serious lockdown?” The woman talking loudly on her mobile phone was obviously under the impression that the lockdown was over. Perhaps she had been among the twenty per cent of the population who had remained oblivious to the Covid-19 provisions.

At a distance, there was the sound of an ambulance moving through the uncertainty of this Saturday afternoon. The traffic must be much busier than heretofore because the presence of the ambulance would not need to have been announced on empty roads. Its progress must have been impeded by other vehicles because the high pitched wail of the siren was replaced by a deep-throated klaxon sound.

The siren and klaxon were used on the ambulance that carried Dad from home to the hospice. The flash of the blue lights had been reflected in the shop windows of Langport and, as we approached Taunton, the wail and the roar had opened an avenue through the Tuesday morning rush hour traffic.

On 10th March, the world around us was still normal, although caution and hesitancy were becoming commonplace. A week later, people sent their apologies at feeling unable to attend the funeral. Three days after the funeral, schools closed and life as we had known it came to a standstill.

Dad would not have coped with the lockdown, he would have raged at the inconsistencies and the double standards. How can it be safe to visit a house you want to buy but not one where an old person has spent weeks of loneliness? Why couldn’t you buy a plant from an outdoor garden centre but could go indoors to buy them at out of town chain stores? Dad would have told the people on the television screen what he thought of their responses to the crisis.

The standstill stopped time. The calendar says it is 6th June. Dad would have recounted his childhood memory of hearing the evening news on the radio that announced the Allied landings in Normandy. But it could be any date. The wind is cutting. Sharp squalls of rain punctuate the day. Trees dried by drought conditions have prematurely shed leaves.

The pause has revived nature, or perhaps it has made space for nature to be noticed. A pair of dunnocks with their two fledglings hop around the garden, the young crying for the attention of their parents. A squirrel steals nuts from the bird feeder.

A quarter of the year has passed.


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