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Corona Diaries: escape strategies

June 15, 2020

Time to think about getting away. Not actually getting away, just thinking about it. And working out how we can make our first trip after lockdown suitably zeitgeist-compliant.

Over the summer, we usually go on a city break or two. Krakow and Palermo were candidates for this year. Then a gloriously quiet ten days in a very basic gite in a Volvo-lite corner of Southern France: Lot-et-Garonne, as the last of the strawberries are being picked and the evening farmer’s markets in the local bastides are drawing to a close.

Our big breaks tend to be in the winter months, when the delights of Beaujolais Day, Halloween and Guy Fawkes night are far outshone by the lush humidity, the street food and the verdant rice paddies of South East Asia.

We have plans for some long-haul travel, but whether that happens remains to be seen. Eleven hour flights in masks, punctuated by sterile airports manned by people who are keen to out you as a coronadevil at the first opportunity are not an enticing prospect, even if the hosts at your final destination are as charming as ever.

So we’ll see. If we won the lottery, an executive jet would be a far more attractive prospect, if somewhat ecologically incorrect.

But what of local travel, by which I mean within our grand old continent of Europe? It would be wonderful to do a little farewell tour of favourite continental cities before we are reduced to the status of “third party” and have to join the same line at passport control as visitors from North Korea, Burundi and Uzbekistan.

But then when we return to the UK, we’ll have to join the Koreans, Burundians and Uzbeks in two weeks quarantine. That wouldn’t be a big problem for us since we only live twenty minutes away from Heathrow. But if we’re not allowed out in those two weeks, it would be a little unfair to rely on relatives for our supplies of milk, quinoa and caviar until either we died of the virus or emerged unscathed. Occado is not to be relied upon, darlings.

So a staycation within these shores, perhaps, or maybe just a few day trips to West Wittering or other beaches, where social distancing doesn’t seem to apply, and diseased zombies lurch past you sweating out the virus along with their excess sun cream.

Cornwall would be nice, except that the locals can’t decide whether they want you or they don’t. So would we be greeted with pitchforks and cattle prods, or welcomed to a glorious clotted cream tea while hanging over a cliff edge to conform with social distancing regulations?

Perhaps we should go for lesser-known places. In an earlier piece I mused whether the glowing sands of beaches near nuclear power stations might not be places where one could put a reasonable distance between us and the rest of humanity.

A little extreme perhaps, but there are other places no further than Cornwall worth considering if you live in the South of England. Obscure parts of Norfolk or Wales, for example, which have the added benefit of being unlikely to boast statues of slave traders. Or perhaps Northumberland, which might be a bit cold but has some impressive wild and windswept places. Surely they need our money as much as the Cornish?

Scotland would be good too, but I don’t like midges, and anyway Scotland has a bad reputation as the engine room of empire. As well as the home of Tennant’s Lager, which fuels the barbarian hordes south of the border.

Most likely we shall wait until the French decide that we Brits are no longer unclean. We might then venture forth to Lot et Garonne. But not, as usual, via one of Mr Ryan’s sardine specials out of Stansted, packed as they are with poshies in face masks and panama hats putting up with the Common Man spilling over alarmingly from the next seat.

No, if we go, it will be by car, in which we can only infect each other, even though a twelve-hour drive will necessitate a few risky encounters at service stations. But that’s what hand gell’s for, isn’t it?

Once there, we can sit in solitude, gazing out across the fields, orchards and woodland, dreaming of truffles, cepes and snails. We can dine outside, on poulet, tranches de porc and wicked cheeses, safe in the knowledge that our antibacterial wet wipes will take care of any RNA lurking on the local produce. And for dessert, we can pick the peaches, apples and pears from nearby trees. If we’re lucky, our neighbour might bring over a melon or some tomatoes from his garden.

Peace and quiet in the crackling heat, with only the lizards and hornets for company. What better way to spend a couple of weeks away from incompetent politicians explaining away their latest failures, statue wars and the ominous signs of a second wave?

Otherwise we’ll just stay in our garden, where the birds compete for our attention with the array of strimmers, leaf-blowers and patio cleaners deployed by our neighbours, which bring to mind Soviet tank exercises in Western Ukraine back in the good old days.

Not that I’m complaining, mind. There are far worse places to be.

From → France, Social, Travel, UK

  1. deborah a moggio permalink

    Indeed there are worse places to be!

    May I suggest that NO ONE travel in any public conveyance, or indulge in activities in densely peopled areas, until there is a reliable vaccine?
    (That injunction only to be ignored in case of emergency.)
    There is no way to know where or when one may pick up the deadly. Or even know of a certainty if one HAS picked it up. Short of daily testing, there is therefore no way to know if we are a danger to others.

    Yes, I’m talking about waiting a long time, but don’t your conscience and need for sleep deserve that level of reassurance?

    • True, but we’ve been pretty conscientious in avoiding infection. My main concern is the incoming threat.

      • deborah a moggio permalink

        Conscientious, very good. But 100 % sure?
        If you are worried about “incoming” which I take to mean getting it from someone else, then I again say wait till there is a reliable vaccine. Even that will not be 100 %.
        As for masks, followed by hand washing and zinc, all good ideas, but I won’t quote for you the percentages of protection offered thereby.
        Once infected, it is still not known how soon one can transmit. Still not known how long from infection to awareness of illness, and it IS known that without testing, it is possible to walk around with no symptoms. Not known for sure if such people transmit or not.
        At any rate, if you want to stay healthy for the rest of your life, wait for a vaccine, take all possible precautions in the meantime, and recognize that “rest of life” is a movable date not under our control.

      • There may never be a vaccine, Debby. A time will come when one takes a view. Not sure when that time is yet. Not a decision to be taken lightly, because COVID would probably have me for breakfast.

  2. There are some slave trader statues in Wales, Can’t remember where.

  3. deborah a moggio permalink

    There may not be a vaccine. Lacking that, there should be a time when “herd immunity” has developed. It will take longer and be sporadic, but, alternatively, the virus may morph into something that is not so transmissible, or alternative to that, not as deadly. At any rate, eventually things will change.
    The one constant… etc.

  4. Andrew Robinson permalink

    This whole business has allowed our latest 5-year “Plan Stalinien” to be finalised, so it’s an ill win that blows nobody any good. We also did a family 70 question “fun” online test with the family which showed ALL (wife, kids AND spouses) to be Social Democrats and except for me who is a “Libertarian Socialist” or “Anarcho-Socialist” in my heart, but still a “Centrist” at the polls in my head. Here the link. Makes for great fun discussions at EU-Third country Zoom meetings.

    We are all, after our results, very much on the downside, on “the list” when the Reactionary Fascist Revolution takes place. I’m not sure whether to sing “L’Internationale”, “Ode to Joy” or “La Marseillaise” as the blindfold goes on….

    “C’est la lutte finale”, “Allons enfants….”, or “All Men become brothers”.

    A bit late for the last one in the UK. Maybe “Hah fleeg”, Onward! Valley and Death await…..

    • Well all I can say, Andrew, is that if you’ve been making your own face masks, just move them three inches up your faces to make a very good-looking blindfold. Thanks for the link. I shall test myself with interest.

    • According to the test, I’m a boring old social democrat. On the axes: social, internationalist, liberal and progressive. Why am I not surprised?

  5. deborah a moggio permalink

    Mine echoes yours.
    Surprise, surprise.

    Does anyone know idrLabs is physically located?
    I didn’t spend a lot of time, but couldn’t find out.
    Since location/background matters in terms of word definition, political denomination, world view, etc etc etc… I think I’d like to know about this group.
    As it sits, this is just another one of those silly means nothing pop psych thingies.


    • The latter probably, but could be a sinister plot by a Cambridge Analytic clone to target us according to our political preferences. No matter, they’re on a loser with me!

      • deborah a moggio permalink

        everyone likes to be mysterious…


      • No, everyone likes a conspiracy theory, except me!

  6. deborah a moggio permalink

    now, now, some of them are FUNNY!!

    • Question is, funny amusing, funny peculiar or funny unhinged?

      • deborah a moggio permalink

        All of the above.

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