03 April 2020

Epidemic feels far away

The newspapers are full of stories about people dying. And I blog about going for a walk and buying a new chair. It shows that I feel very far from the fire! I am well aware that people are dying, and how devastating that is to those near them, but I personally only know one person with symptoms, and these are mild. I don't know anyone who has needed hospital treatment. No need to point out nobody I know has died. So in that way, my life just goes on, rather uneventfully! And I may be living through a time that will enter history like something dramatic and spectacular; the epidemic feels distant to me. And I intend to keep it that way if I can! Nobody benefits from unnecessary panic.

Of course my life is different now, but it's been a rather effortless transition. And my surroundings aren't very affected either; the neighbour on one side ('the' neighbour, with the charming dog) is in excellent health, and he's retired, so for him not much has changed. The neighbour on the other side, equally healthy, is another university employee. So in my rather limited circle of people I meet in person, nobody is hit hard. Not overly surprising actually; the worst hit areas are the cities, and North Wales is not particularly urbanised. London this is not! And the people I speak with online aren't ill or hit by bereavement either, even if they live in national capitals. 

My biggest worries are for those around me who are self-employed or who have businesses that can't go online. Most of the people I know are university employees of course, and these are relatively OK. We just move our jobs online, and continue to get paid. But I also know people who are in a less luxurious position. I hope they'll be OK! And then, of course, there is the local community. The supermarkets are still open, but this is not looking good for the cafes, pubs, florist, hairdresser, etc etc. For them this is so much more scary! Johnson and Sunak spoke lovely words on the radio, but those who have looked into this say that is what it mostly is: words. It's too early to know how things will pan out but I am sure this will be felt for a long time to come. I hope everyone will come through relatively unscathed! I am also wondering if it helps that Bethesda's identity is so closely tied to hard times. Maybe this will make people rally around, like the Dutch rallied around and spent enormous amounts of tax money on sea defenses after 1953? Stay tuned!

A depressingly representative part of the Bethesda High Street; from left to right, a carpet shop that already closed some two years ago; the now closed hairdresser, the chip shop of which I don't know if it opens at all these days, and the now closed pub. Not very lively!

Distant view on more closed stuff: almost invisible in the distance the ziplines of Zipworld, now closed; and closer by, Ogwen Bank caravan park, also closed

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