Life In The Slow Lane

Great Britain

Lockdown is clearly over in people’s minds. These are the lovely students of King’s Cross living on the BOMAD in sumptuous flats their folks will flip the second they’ve all finished their degrees in advanced macramé. They’re phantom residents as invisible to us as tourists. The stars of the Great Pause have been the enterprising local kids who found ways to keep shops and services running, like the ones who set up market gardens and put their recipes on Instagram each night, or repurposed their electric vans to make customer door-drops. They got to know their local residents, encouraging them to put names to faces,  and we’ll remember them and loyally choose their independent stores over chain shops when full opening returns.

Perhaps the Great Pause should be renamed the Great Slowdown. I don’t know about you but  (health problems aside) my metabolism has dropped like a stone. Instead of forever running somewhere checking my phone with my passport in my top pocket I’ve taken to sitting on our terrace for a few minutes without even reading.

Without a reason to rush, life has slowed – and not disagreeably so. Everything takes longer and actions once rushed through are now reconsidered at a languid pace. My friend Roger stopped hellraising in order to build a dining table. Where once we talked about meeting up in Turkey (something I was due to do right around now) we discuss home improvements and compare notes on chair repairs.

There’s no need to rush the writing, either. With ‘Oranges & Lemons’ due out in three weeks I find most of my publishing house working from home and no events planned, so I’ll probably do my own PR, minus the launch party. And there’s not much point in holding another treasure hunt if people aren’t coming into the city on public transport.

The failure of Brazil and America to contain the virus should be a warning to the rest of the world, but is being only half-heeded. Britain got off to a dithering start by not listening to scientists and Sweden headed into disaster by listening too much. So long as European capitals experience local flareups we remain trapped in a ‘phoney war’, a twilight of perpetual anticipation that keeps us all on a pilot light, waiting for the signal to fire up some energy once more and stop this interminable drifting.

Today I’ll be attempting to end my sargasso lassitude with a programme of physical and mental exercise. But first I’ll have a lie-down on the sofa and think about it for a while. There’s no rush just yet.

19 comments on “Life In The Slow Lane”

  1. Jan says:

    Why dash? Have a kip Chris

  2. Brooke says:

    And Ms. Armitage?

  3. SteveB says:

    The comments are in the slow lane too today 😉

    Btw Frankfurt city centre was heaving last night. It’s not only UK.

    And actually read the New Statesman article on the sequence of events before and after lockdown, as revealed by the now-published Sage minutes. After reading that, my interpretation is that it’s maybe a bit of a myth that the government wadn’t listening to the scientists.

  4. admin says:

    Maggie seems incapable of grasping the idea of Lockdown, and has been going out, kissing & hugging people, trees, cars etc to no discernible disadvantage. Germs feel a kinship with her.

  5. Ian Luck says:

    In all probability the Government WERE listening to the scientists, but were too damn thick to understand what they were saying.

  6. Cornelia Appleyard says:

    I suspect they also choose scientists who are likely to say what they want to hear.

  7. Brooke says:

    Well what would you expect in a white lighter witch? There’s probably some aura surrounding her that warns off germs and other nasty things.

  8. SteveB says:

    Hi Ian, Cornelia – Please do read the article before you comment, because I think you are just going by your preconceptions. I just looked around and found it’s online here:

    I promise it’s worth it.

  9. SteveB says:

    Oops sorry THIS is the article I was talking about
    The article in the post above is actually a follow up, which I hadn’t seen before
    So it’s going to be really interesting to read them together, which I’m about to do now!

  10. Helen Martin says:

    Maggie is at one with the earth.
    We’ve been told we can trravel within the province, but that means anywhere in the country and I hear people suggesting that we would like Ontario and Quebec to stay home for a while yet. It makes us feel a little selfish, saying that we have the numbers down so stay home till your area does too.

  11. Jo W says:

    Oh,sorry Chris,I started to read the blog earlier but……..I seem to have drifted off for a while. Now, what else did I mean to do today? Ah well,it can wait until tomorrow. Not going anywhere special.

  12. Dawn Andrews says:

    Advanced macrame got me drifting off coffee seeking, sniggering. Look forward to more Maggie. And Hellraiser, DIY.

  13. Liz Thompson says:

    What the government did ignore/disbelieve/overrule (take your pick) was the medical advice and information coming out of the hospitals. A case of preferring to believe the weather forecast above looking out the door to see whether it’s raining or not. In any case, I consider Leicester, and await the second wave in late July, early August.

  14. Wayne Mook says:

    Taking it easy, waiting for a bot or person to reply on an online chat, it’s a refund so feet up and having a nice cup of tea.

    Remember wear a mask but in doing so you maybe opposing The Red Trump, remember only evil super villains like Spider-Man wear masks in protest of Don ‘the weave’ Trump. you are warned.


  15. Brooke says:

    @Helen. Sorry don’t think it’s selfish. NY, CT, NJ and PA have struggled hard to contain the virus, enduring anxiety, PPE shortages (learn how to make your own), queuing at 7am for food, economic hardship, etc. While hearing Trump, Republicans and the KKK shouting “open now.” I don’t want Floridians, Texans, etc. coming to this city. Now that they understand Covid-19 is not a hoax perpetrated by Obama, Hilary Clinton, WHO and Bill Gates, let them stay home. .

  16. Melville’s Bartleby the Scrivener is about a writer who gradually slows down so much that he dies of laziness………..

  17. Peter T says:

    Providing scientific advice and opinion has been a large part of my working life. Too often, he who pays the piper expects to call the tune either by employing experts with the desired opinion or by telling them what to say. Combine that with a lack of or uncertain data and it can become complicated. It’s even more exciting when barristers and judges are involved. An Aspie nature is an enormous advantage!

    One of Churchill’s most admirable qualities was his use of and work with experts, especially ones he expected to disagree with him. It distinguishes him from almost all other politicians, indeed from most people.

  18. Ian Luck says:

    SteveB – I am of the definite opinion that most modern politicians are basically dullards and shysters. They couldn’t give a tinker’s cuss about the average person in the street. I’ve felt that way since 1979, when Thatcher took over and screwed everyone over. She wasn’t a dullard, but ensured all her greasy minions were. The floppy haired goon in charge now probably has too many voices in his head to fully comprehend anything he’s told. I thought that ‘Brexit’ would take us back to those cash free days of 1946, but C-19 has seemingly done it instead. And yet, despite that, Boris Badenough is announcing throwing wads of cash we don’t have at things we need. Great. But unless money grows on trees (like spaghetti, as ane fule kno), he’s going to have some explaining to do. Do I trust him? Not for a femto-second. I wouldn’t trust him to organise a chimps’ tea party.

  19. Wayne Mook says:

    I think the politicians have been listening, but remember it’s money vs. health, esp of the poor, guess who wins? With greater democracy if they let the health side slide too much they will lose power. Churchill didn’t do so well in a financial crisis resorting to use of the army to shoot strikers and keeping us on the gold standard.

    Blair for all his faults, reduced child poverty down to almost zero, carried on Major’s Good Friday agreement thus ending mass bombings on both sides of the Irish Sea and actually helped with Bush. I never thought I’d miss George W. good grief. To be honest looking at politicians of the past: today we have fewer ‘really’ dishonest ones but still about the same number of incompetent ones.


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