by Martin MacConnol – Apr 03, 2020
I went for a run yesterday evening around Ealing Common and thought I’d try to do something different. I waved at, or said ‘hi’, to everybody whose eye I could catch.
That in itself was surprisingly hard to do. I hadn’t quite grasped that a 2-metre social distancing puts you out of most people’s line of vision for most of the time.
But when I did make eye contact, the result was invariably positive. Ok some people thought I was a friend and only realised I wasn’t when I was 10 metres further on, but everyone, literally everyone smiled, waved or said ‘hi’ back. And I thought that was a good thing.
Because in all honesty being out and about, for those rare moments that you are allowed, is starting to feel a little oppressive. People tend to look a bit hostile, a bit guilty.
But we’ve got to be careful of this. We are giving up our freedoms at the moment for the greater good. We shouldn’t behave like we are living in a police state. I’m starting to realise the slide into a totalitarian existence starts with two thoughts: the suspicion that we are doing something wrong, and the suspicion that those we see around us are doing something wrong too.
I certainly had that hunted feeling on Wednesday when I went into our London office. For the benefit of the thought police, it felt ‘essential’ to me. A server needed rebooting and computers needed to be sent out to colleagues who were having issues with home IT. This is an economic as well as health crisis after all.
London is never the warmest of cities emotionally, in normal times you don’t expect to strike up a conversation or even acknowledge a stranger on your way into work. But these are not normal times.
Sure, we can’t be physically close when we do our essential shopping or go for our daily exercise, (I literally felt affronted when another person got into my Piccadilly Line carriage). But we can be close psychologically. It would help. We are all in this together and greeting people would stop us behaving like thought criminals in 1984.
So, I suggest we launch a new national campaign. Let’s wave goodbye to our corona blues, let’s give it a jolly hashtag like #coronawave.
In all seriousness, these are tough times, but we are all in it together. So why don’t we start with the assumption that those we see around us are good people like we are ourselves. Let’s be very un-British and give random strangers a cheery wave hello. Because coronavirus is not the only thing that is infectious, good spirits are too.
Published Apr 03, 2020