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10sBalls Shares • To The Bins And Back! Part Four In An Occasional Series On Life In Lockdown In London

Wimbledon ground staff create NHS tribute.

By Alix Ramsay

My people are free. Well, not free exactly but not quite as cooped up as they used to be. The UK lockdown is being relaxed ever so slightly and we really don’t know what to do with ourselves.

This has led to all sorts of confusion and division. There are those who think the easing of restrictions is sheer lunacy but, then again, they are the people whose response to a crisis is to crawl under the duvet and wait until it all goes away. In the current situation, that is not a bad move but it is hardly sustainable. What happens when you exhaust the batteries on the TV remote? At some point you have to break cover for replacements or you will never find out whether Carol from Tewkesbury won the £10,000 jackpot on Tipping Point.

Then there are those who think that the crisis is now officially over and we can all go back to life as normal. These people are equally deranged – as they will soon discover. Nothing is normal; nothing is the same. It’s just that some parts of business and society are opening the door just a fraction of an inch to see what happens.

Why there should be confusion is beyond me. Perhaps the weeks spent in lockdown has softened the brains of the British public. Admittedly, the government’s new slogan could use a little work – “stay alert, control the virus and save lives” – but the basic instructions are simple enough to follow.

Visit https://www.nhs.uk/ for more information.

The old slogan was pretty straight forward: “stay home, protect the NHS and save lives”. Don’t go out and catch the bug, don’t end up in hospital and clog up the NHS and, by doing that, you will save your own life and the lives of those who desperately need the NHS. But the new slogan? Not so much. It is more like a scene from a Christmas pantomime as we all try to stay alert (and for those not of a British persuasion, read through). Where’s the virus? It’s behind you.

As of this past week, we have been encouraged to go back to our places of work – if, like construction and manufacturing workers, we cannot work from home – but we are to avoid using public transport if at all possible. We can play golf and tennis, provided we observe social distancing protocols, but we cannot get a haircut. As one wag pointed out, that is what happens when you have a predominantly male government: you can play golf but you can’t get your hair done. Hey ho.

But the biggest change is that we can now go where we want. We can get in our cars and drive somewhere. Freedom at last. Sort of.

Now that the weather is decent, those who live in the beauty spots of Britain are furious. They do not want cars full of small children and germs packing their highways and byways. And you can see their point: the virus may not thrive in sunlight, fresh air and the great outdoors but, alas, children do. And they are noisy, annoying little buggers, children.

It only took moments before some numpty took his freedom and misused it. Driving all the way from Leicester to Poldhu in Cornwall with his kayak strapped to his roof rack, a good five hour and 300 mile trip, he took his little boat and headed out to sea. He didn’t tell anyone he was there; he didn’t tell anyone he was going out on the water – and then he capsized. Had it not been for the manager of a Poldhu care home who, while staring out of the window, spotted our numpty and raised the alarm, the story could have ended badly. As it was, the air-sea rescue service found a bedraggled, freezing kayaker and took him to hospital by helicopter.

Man clinging to kayak in sea off Poldhu drove from Leicester.

It is no wonder the locals of the pretty villages and towns up and down the UK do not want strangers descending on them at the moment. Their hospitals are busy enough with the virus crisis; they don’t need idiots causing accidents to pile yet more pressure on their health services.

Then again, one upside of all this mayhem is the reduced numbers of people packing the A&E departments at all hours. True enough, many people who really should go to hospital are staying away for fear of catching the dreaded bug but there are many more who, in the days before the crisis, would have rushed to A&E at the merest hint of a problem. “No madam, you do not have leprosy. There is not much of it about in Weybridge. However, you do appear to have dandruff. And, no, you cannot have Head and Shoulders on prescription…NEXT!” Fortunately, these days, the hypochondriacs’ fear of Covid-19 is greater than their fear of leprosy and A&E is free to deal with proper problems.

As a brief aside: I had a friend who worked for a while as a hospital porter and the sights he saw on a Saturday night would make your toes curl. His particular favourite was the bloke who arrived wearing a large overcoat, slippers and an embarrassed expression. He had been home alone that evening and, left to his own devices, he had taken a shine to some of the household gadgets. This caused him to form…how to put this delicately….a romantic and, at the same time, inextricable attachment to his vacuum cleaner. Finding himself stuck fast, he took himself, still attached to his new friend, to the hospital for help. But the best part about the tale was that he didn’t have a car – he’d come by bus.

But back to the newly released Brits. We have a warning for you, people of Blighty: you can go where you want but you can’t go when you get there.

In a move of sheer cunning, the government has given us the freedom to go only as far as out bladders will allow. No bars, cafes, restaurants or pubs are open. You can’t drive across the country hoping to nip into the Dog and Ferret for a swift half and a use of the facilities. They are all shut. So are the public lavs. So, if you happen to see TV footage of countless Brits in pretty parts of the country looking as if they are auditioning for a bit part in Riverdance, you will know the reason why. “Have you been Mavis?” “No…I knew should gone before I came…” (yet another example of why English is not the easiest of languages to learn).

Public toilets across Great Britain remain shut.

Me? I’m not going anywhere much. Anyway, it’s bin day tomorrow and there is recycling and rubbish to be taken out tonight. And before I make my weekly trek to the bin room, there are the facilities to use because the lav in Ramsay Towers is always open. Staying local has its advantages. To the bins and back!