I wonder who they are
the men who really run this land
and I wonder why they run it with such a thoughtless hand
What are their names
and on what streets do they live
I’d like to ride right over this afternoon and give
them a piece of my mind
about peace for mankind.
Peace is not an awful lot to ask (David Crosby)
Yesterday in Primrose Hill park a cute unleashed French bull-dog puppy came bounding over to play with my older Maltese dog. My dog, a sweet white Maltese called Amy, was leashed wearing her best sulky face. Our interloper was young and free, determined to engage Amy in play but she was not in the mood. He challenged her but she was at the end of her walk and ready to indulge in her favourite activity of walking slowly along in the sunshine and smelling the familiar trees and grass she knows so well.
But this pup was not about to take no for an answer. After all, he had picked on someone he thought might be his own size. He was determined to get his game of chase. The leash got more and more tangled round him and Amy. Finally, I had to bend down and try to untangle them and let the little pup know not to follow us or he might lose sight of his owners. Just as I was getting them untangled, the owner came up behind me breathlessly – he got so close in bending down for his dog that his head knocked against mine. I was shocked and angry that he didn’t announce his impending nearness to me. A quick ‘hey’ would have done. Just something to alert me so I could regain my distance.
Under any normal circumstances, none of this would have even remotely bothered me. I might have found it funny. But, there I was in my 3M 9502+ and sunglasses trapped in an anxiety attack. It had taken me years to climb out my own anxiety bunker and now here I am a frequent visitor again. Did he spread ‘droplets’? Was he infected? Why couldn’t he call out to me to alert me that he was about to break the social distance rule? Is there something peculiarly English and ‘polite’ that prevents people opening their mouth to fire a warning shot? You don’t have to be Elmer Fudd about it but a simple warning could save a life these days. Did he not think my life worthy of safety? We are living in a new normal. Say something. Fire that warning shot. Was I the only one who got the memo reading: ‘keep your distance, we are in a pandemic’. I seek calmness daily. I don’t always reach it but I start the day with yoga and a headstand and often walk more than the recommended 10,000 steps. I keep my headphones in so I don’t have to listen to noise. I’m ok if you’re ok is my motto. But somewhere inside the ominous whisper that none of us is ok is getting louder. That we are not safe is such a horrible thought – I turn David Crosby in my headphones up louder.
I live alone, I am used to keeping myself occupied. Social distance is not ideal but neither is it an issue for me. Some people are being force-fed loneliness and that can’t be easy. I depend on music and radio in my headphones so I can think my own thoughts. Thinking about gasping for my last breath in a Royal Free corridor compels me to follow the pandemic rules, hoping they will keep me safe. This virus is something we need to be aware of but not obsess over – it’s a very fine line. I prefer not to dwell but when someone selfishly sneaks up on me, it brings the anxiety up close and central. Hey you – get off a m’cloud.
If it is true that a bat and a pangolin created this virus, it is equally true that human beings have lost their way in allowing these innocent animals to suffer so cruelly in Chinese wet markets. Who has allowed that to happen? Who has convinced others that this is the height of banqueting? Or that the pangolin scale will cure ills? “I wonder who they are, the men who really run this land and I wonder why they run it with such a thoughtless hand. What are their names and on what streets do they live? I’d like to ride right over this afternoon and give them a piece of my mind about peace for mankind. Peace is not an awful lot to ask.”