I came back from Australia on March 5th. The QANTAS flight from Singapore to London was cancelled, and we were booked onto a British Airways flight that left and arrived one hour earlier than the planned flight. We had a moment of panic that we were about to be trapped in Singapore but in reality no country seemed to be closing its borders apart from to people who had been in mainland China in the last two weeks. This meant a fast walk from the arrival gate to the new departure gate at Singapore. At the airport I noticed all the workers were wearing face masks. I don’t remember when I had last flown with BA – but it was quaint and old fashioned and the clients seemed to have fruity old fashioned British voices. Flight attendants were older, the food was slightly nicer and the measures of gin felt considerably more generous than QUANTAS. The large plane was about half empty so people must have been starting to stop flying by then. Arrival at Heathrow was 5.45am on Friday 6th March.
The following week I decided to avoid the train and travelled to work on my bicycle.
The Monday following that, the 16th March, we had a meeting scheduled but on Sunday afternoon I remembered that it was to be held in a very small room without window or ventilation, stuffy at the best of times – and 11 people were scheduled to attend. There must have been enough worry circulating for me to email everyone and say that I didn’t feel safe to attend and would be staying at home. The reply from the Dean of Faculty was – you are right, we need to cancel. I’ve since seen that the chair of that meeting is unwell and not replying to emails.
The week after that, the Prime Minister announced the order to stay at home. It seemed to take a while to have an impact so by the beginning of this week, the streets are very quiet, the roads around here less so. The trains continue to rumble relentlessly into Cannon Street. I see and hear them from my window. And busses continue to run with one or two passengers.
Borough Market is still open – at least the stalls we use, fruit and veg, the fishmongers and Ginger Pig butcher. Also Monmouth is still selling its lovely coffee beans.
Going shopping I find nerve racking but better now that shops have installed large perspex screens to protect the cashiers. Its hard to keep a distance from other shoppers though people seem to be taking that more seriously. Yesterday there was toilet paper to be found for the first time in about 3 weeks. Wine and gin is in reasonable supply. After shopping I take all the items into the garden and spray them with Dettol then take off my gloves and wash my hands.
Today over 500 people died related to the virus across the UK, the youngest to die was just 13 and he lived down in Brixton and died in Kings College Hospital, both very familiar to me and not far from where I live.
I have had a slight cold since Saturday but no cough and no temperature – I’ve been taking it a few times every day.
I am glad that before my trip to Australia that I brought my motorcycle down to the garage in London but it is sitting unridden down there but at least I know it is safe. The rental for the garage in Cambridge has gone up to £82 per month.