I’ve completely adapted  to being an introverted recluse, perhaps not surprising after nearly a year.  When I go out now for my permitted one hour of brisk walking I’ve not only become adept at avoiding people, I have started to relish it!  I treat people as aliens, spotting them from afar and giving them a wide berth.  This often involves striking off across a rough field or, even more perilous, stepping out into the road while the aliens saunter along the trodden path/pavement.  The other day I stepped out into the road without looking behind me and gave a cyclist a fright.  We both apologised to each other, she for nearly hitting me and me for nearly dismounting her. 

The past two weeks have been abnormally busy, some of it nice, some of it sad. 

We have sold our  London pad on the South Bank.  This marks the passing of a 12 year era when we’ve enjoyed sleepovers with numerous visits to Wigmore Hall, the Tates, the Festival Hall, the National Theatre, etc.  Lots of lovely walks too, wishing monuments a cheery good morning (they never reciprocated) and, guide books in hand, exploring hidden corners of central London.   Moving stuff back to Windsor took three car journeys and, finally, two men with a van for the big stuff.  The trouble is we now have two of everything (toasters, kettles, pots and pans, toothbrushes, tables, beds, sofas, TVs) and the charity shops in Windsor are shut.

I have made a few trips to Hitchin on compassionate grounds to visit my brother who is bedridden with inoperable lung cancer and yesterday we attended the funeral of one of our grandsons, Daniel.  He was only 21 and died at home five weeks ago.  He was a healthy young man and an autopsy failed to explain his sudden death.  Inevitably the funeral was a sad affair, not helped by mask wearing, strict social distancing and a maximum of 30 mourners.   The wretched virus succeeded in preventing the only things that are ‘enjoyable’ at a funeral: embracing people, singing hymns, laughing at jokes in the eulogy, cucumber sandwiches afterwards. After the service we proceeded to the cemetery to witness the coffin being lowered into the ground and, perhaps fittingly, it started to rain.  As the oldest person there, I couldn’t help but think ‘that should be me’.  

Happier news?  I’ve made 12 jars of marmalade slavishly following a recipe in the newspaper with the headline ‘Marmalade for beginners’.  The introduction claims that marmalade making is ‘the latest lockdown trend’ with sales of Seville oranges at Waitrose up 22 per cent on last year.  Apparently Elizabeth Hurley is on Instagram boasting that she has made 47 jars with another batch on the way.  I think I’ll content myself with 12 jars. 

This morning’s walk along a section of the Thames path was joyous: warm sunshine, no people, lots of daffodils and clumps of snowdrops.  And now we have the long awaited Road Map designed to get us, in cautious steps, to 21st June when, all being well (and subject to many caveats), restrictions could be lifted.  I know the idea of issuing vaccine passports is contentious for many people, but personally I have no problem with this, but then I’ve always tended to be obedient/compliant.   

I have been trying to understand how best to win round people who are refusing to be inoculated.  I used to lecture managers on how to overcome resistance to change and it all sounded so simple: if the resistance stems from ignorance, educate people; if the resistance stems from misinformation, provide people with accurate information, etc.  But now I’ve learnt about Rational Ignorance where the benefits of becoming informed are outweighed by the costs.  When the costs exceed the benefits ordinary forms of knowledge dissemination, persuasion and ‘fact checks’ are inadequate.  Instead we have to understand what it is that positively motivates people to opt for ignorance: things like peer approval, the sheer fun of cocking a snook at the powers that be, the thrill of engaging in a David vs. Goliath battle. 

It’s complicated, but, as we all know, there’s nowt so queer as folk!             

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