It all seemed like a joke not so long ago. Like last Friday maybe. This Corona Virus malarkey wasn’t serious really, was it? I mean sure, people were dying, but they were few and far, far away. But then it was in the UK, and Italy.
And then it was here, in France.
Then President Macron took to the air and announced that we were at war with a virus. And suddenly it was all to real, and not funny anymore. Not in the slightest.
New measures were announced to combat this threat, avoid contact with other people, wash frequently, don’t panic buy (good luck with that one!) but the main one was that we must stay in our homes unless absolutely necessary. Meaning, effectively, that we are all locked down in our own homes with our loved ones and, if we do leave the house, we need to fill out and sign a form in case a police man sees and stops us (if you don’t have your note then you face a hefty fine).
So far since the new regime has been implemented I have been out once (I mean, you can still go out in your garden, but I’m talking about a bit further afield). I went for a run yesterday for about forty minutes, running all around my town. I did of course ensure that I had my ‘permission slip’ with me: ‘Dear Mr Policeman, I am running outdoors as I need to exercise and get away from my kids otherwise I will go mad‘ was bizarrely NOT one of the possible justifications for leaving your domicile.
It was strange. So quiet.
In some respects this is no different from normal days/evenings when I run. The French are a very ‘insular’ people, and I have likened them to trap-door spiders in the past (in a loving way of course). They pop out, do their thing – be that working, shopping etc. – and then they head back indoors and effectively don’t leave until the next day. That’s why when I run I generally don’t see many people. This is a marked contrast for someone who comes from the UK, where you could go for a run through a much smaller town and see dozens and dozens of people milling around.
There are no off-licenses or late-opening corner shops, very, very few take-aways and pubs are less frequent, so I think this does have an impact on that kind of social mobility. I prefer it, if I’m being honest. The amount of drunken people rolling around English towns as a result of these alcohol-selling shops, and the other obesity-issue related to convenience food is not something I miss.
But I digress.
So I went for a run and I did see some people, but every single one of them moved out of my way as I approached. And I’m not saying I ran near them. Many times I was about four meters away (the recommended safe distance is one meter), yet still they moved.
So it’s quiet, which is not unusual. But it’s the atmosphere in the air that’s so different. There’s almost a fear. A sense of dread that you can taste.
There’s also a very real sense of horse manure and cow dung in the air too, but that’s because I run past a farmer’s field on my circuit.
I’ll report back on what it’s like indoors in another blog, as we are all still settling into this new lifestyle.
But one thing’s for sure – we are living in interesting times…