Yesterday I had a long telephone conversation with my son who was out on a social distancing walk to relieve his stress. Boy! Did he sound stressed out! There’s the generally dire situation of the world but also he is trying to help his wife not fall apart as she finds herself pulled in too many directions at once. Her mother is very ill, not from the virus but with an ongoing condition. Really she should be in hospital but there is no chance of her getting any kind of priority admission and, besides, hospital is probably the last place you want to be at present. Added to this, their small daughter has been running a temperature and been showing at the least cold symptoms. While this might be just one of these childhood ailments, my daughter-in-law feels she cannot go and visit her mother just in case she takes with her coronavirus, something her mother’s desperately poor immune system would not cope with at all.
This is, no doubt, a typical story of the time we are living through. I can totally understand my daughter-in-law’s feeling of helplessness. My own feeling at the moment is that, like a mother hen with her chicks, I want to gather all my people together and personally check that all are safe. Not possible, of course.
This morning, my boy woke me at 7.45 (okay, I know some people have already been up and about for ages by that time but I was still snug in my bed) with a photo message: a beautiful morning view of the hills behind his house where he was out on an early morning stress-relieving walk. We have a tradition of doing this kind of thing. When he was a teenager and the family was going through a stressful time, he and I used to get up early and walk round a local reservoir before many other folk got there. It helps!
We are, I suppose, fortunate to live in places where we can get out for such walks in places where we will meet, and therefore need to circumvent, very few people. Photos in the news indicate that parks in big cities are simply not coping with keeping the crowds of people 2 metres apart. Meanwhile in Spain and Italy, and perhaps France, the authorities are going slightly bonkers as they challenge people in the streets and have them lie through their teeth about why they are out and about: walking clearly exhausted dogs; going to take shopping to aged aunts who turn out to be friends they are meeting for a card game, and so on.
The selfishness pandemic is making itself felt as well. Supermarkets are apparently still crazy places. And here is the news report of a paramedic being given notice to quit his rented accommodation ... in case he brings home the virus to his landlady! The mind boggles.
According to this article the reports of dolphins in the canals of Venice are untrue. The pictures must have been photoshopped. However, it does confirm that wildlife is venturing into empty cities. A kind of extended version of the urban foxes we see all the time, it’s rather like something from a science fiction story. How long before nature reclaims the spaces we so confidently occupied until a only few weeks ago?
And here’s the story of one man’s response to being confined to his flat in France:-
“In the age of Covid-19 confinement, Elisha Nochomovitz has figured out a way to keep occupied by running a marathon on his balcony.
Nochomovitz ran 42.2km (26.2 miles) back and forth, never leaving his 7 metre-long (23 feet) balcony.
He saw it as a physical and mental challenge, and also shared images of the feat online as a way to extend his support to medical personnel who were doing an “exceptional job”, he told Associated Press from his apartment in Balma, a suburb of the southern French city of Toulouse.
Like athletes who ran around their Wuhan apartments or cyclists who found ways to train in their locked-down Abu Dhabi hotel rooms, Nochomovitz wanted to show that it’s possible to stay fit as virus containment measures tighten around the world.
He also wanted to lighten the mood. “It was about launching a bit of a crazy challenge and bringing a bit of humour, to de-dramatise the confinement situation,” he said.
He didn’t exactly make record time. It took him six hours and 48 minutes. He got nauseous and worried the neighbours would complain about the pounding of his footsteps. But he did it.
Technically, the French authorities are still allowing people to go outside for exercise such as running, if they fill out and sign a form explaining their reasons for leaving their homes.
The number of joggers on French streets has multiplied in recent days, amid exceptionally balmy weather. And that has authorities worried that too many people are still out on the streets, threatening efforts to contain the virus.
“If everyone thinks the same way and does the same thing, we will all find ourselves outside and that won’t help anything, and the message that we need to stay confined at home will have had no impact,” said Nochomovitz.
He said he had been training for a marathon, adding: “I needed to assure myself that I could still run 40km.”
He lost track of how many laps he did, but his pedometer kept track while his mind wandered. “I thought about many things, what’s going to happen, when I see that the world has stopped, sports, economy, finance,” he said. “We learned in history about wars between nations, men and weapons, but this is something that is beyond us.”
He especially thought about medics, which he described as the real everyday heroes”.
He had crucial support in his challenge. “I had my girlfriend here who was giving me drinks and M&Ms.”
Outside, some onlookers stared in confusion. And his neighbours? “They were very understanding.””
On reflection, maybe the people who have connected their static bicycles to Peleton, the online exercise programme with the extremely annoying television advertisements, might feel they have done the right thing. They can just get on their static bikes and pedal their stress away.