There has been a gradual change of personal interaction around here since the pandemic continued so much longer than many thought it might. At the start, people kept their distance, but were still chatty. Whether familiar dog-walkers, or people never previously encountered on walks, everyone was ready to stop and talk, if only about the virus, or the weather.
This week, I noticed more people in the supermarket keeping their distance, and obeying the rules. Then out with Ollie, I could tell people were not only keeping a distance, but settling for a wave from a long way off, rather than the six-feet gap to allow a reasonable conversation. In some cases, this is to be welcomed, as there are a few walkers who like to ‘latch on’, and talk at length about things like Brexit, or house prices.
But in general, I detected a palpable sense of fear. Fear of strangers, as well as fear of people they already knew reasonably well, like me.
Walking back to the house, I refelected on why that might have happened. I conclude it might be about survival. When all this started, few people really expected to get the virus, and even less to die from it. But the stark statistics of 32,000 deaths in the UK cannot be ignored, as we see them every day on the news. The longer the virus scare continues, the more it creeps into your head that you could be number 32,001.
Other people are now potentially lethal. Especially strangers.