While you are in Middleton get some black bags
It was a text from my wife who was in work. How the hell did she know I was in Middleton?
I swear she has some kind of track and trace programme that the government should look into because it just blows their billion pound effort away.
I did as I was told. I got the black bags.
That’s the secret of a good marriage.
Then I called for a coffee in McDonald’s where I could hear a man complaining to himself in the booth next to mine.
Fucking sick of this now. Where’s your mask? Stand here. Stand there. We don’t do that. Put your mask back on. Sit here. There’s no ketchup. Wait there. If you can’t taste salt on your chips it’s a Coronavirus symptom bollocks.
The last line rose in volume as it neared its end. I couldn’t help smiling in private at his public fatigue.
I think a lot of us are losing the stamina for this now, and some are really struggling.
There was an elderly man in there, crying and apologising for being a nuisance. The prospect of another lockdown had filled him with dread, for he had only one family member to speak with who would have to isolate. This was the only place he could come for some human contact, and embarrassed by his tears he made to leave.
The woman who was seating the customers tried to reassure him:
“You’re not a nuisance at all. Sit down and I’ll get you a drink. Ignore what the government says, as long as you’ve got your gloves and your mask on you’re alright. You need to keep coming in every morning to see us.”
That was true, but if this place was forced to go delivery only again that option would no longer be open to him. It’s a trade off, catching Coronavirus v your mental health. Not everyone had the fortitude and the people around them to cope with this once again.
I left the restaurant and made my way home along a path that gradually rose away from the town centre in a steep climb. At the top of the hill, where the slope evened out, was a tree well on its way to its autumn transformation. I paused a while to both take it in and get my breath back.
There were still many leaves to fall, and those that had were stirring in a cool breeze.
Although it looked familiar, we’d not seen an autumn like this one before. But they will keep coming around and there’s a reassurance in that, even as they age us.
We are still here, all of us, doing the same old things, climbing hills, gasping for breath, and little by little shedding our leaves.