By Nick Horne • 18 May 2020 • 14:32
Slowly the quarantine is relaxed, even in London. Not that it was that fierce to start with here and across the UK generally. During the last weeks most people have probably gained weight and certainly the booze has not stopped flowing.
Even though the Pubs and Bars have been shut along with most of the shopping streets. An enduring feature in our local part of London are the numbers of cyclists. They are most usually the sort that are clad in Lycra and sport the logos and slogans of various professional cycle teams.
Some wear helmets some not. Some ride in groups almost pelotons while some ride with I would guess their wives and husbands mostly though in solitary splendour. More rarely one saw family groups.
On occasion a father with son or daughter; these cyclists have as serious an expression as those others who seem to aspire to professional cycle status. Ernest and serious pushing the pedals along the street as spring has progressively brought all of the trees into full leaf. Streets that were bare to the sky now have a green canopy. During the lock down the blossom has come and gone.
Empty buses have plied their routes. Frequent and regular the red buses have been at the service of any who would need to travel and yet most did not step aboard.
The maxim to – Stay Home, Protect the NHS , Save Lives – was actually heeded by upwards of 90 per cent of the population for weeks and weeks, to the acknowledged surprise of the experts. On the pavements walked single Londoners, from time to time small groups.
A family taking the air and feeling the sun during the brightest and sunniest April , since records began, walking to and from a shop perhaps or just a stroll. An hour long, no more, circular from home and returning home.
Cars were a rare sight. These days and in this part of London all to often a car is an SUV or as I prefer to describe this type of vehicle a Chelsea Tractor.
A description that I think is so much more appropriate. What did almost entirely vanish from the streets was the White Van. A species of vehicle beloved of the sole trader, the builder, the plumber indeed all the trades that keep a city flowing.
Though of course the vital cog of the quarantine the courier also uses a white van and their numbers grew steadily as the weeks passed. As did entrepreneurs on motor bikes who took to the streets to deliver the online orders that sustained so many households with all kinds of supplies through the last months.
As the maxim from Stay Home changed to Stay Alert so too have the activities of the Londoner. Perceptibly over the last week numbers on the streets have slowly swelled. More cyclists, more walkers, more cars and white vans are stepping and so the circulation of London returns. Red buses who had the roads to themselves now see their companions return as London seeks to return to life.
© Nick Horne, London, England
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