I might have mentioned before that I am a nervous traveller at the best of times, and these are far from that (though not – yet – the worst.) The coronacrisis brings with it fears of border closures and cancelled flights, and added to the mix I discovered, in the fluster of booking my flights home, Val had entered the wrong birth date, knocking eight years off me, but still. I did make a half-hearted effort to get it changed, but eventually reckoned I was more likely to get the flights cancelled, so decided to let it be and take my chances, figuring the chances of anyone spotting it in the small print were remote.
As it turned out, I was right, and in fact the whole journey, door to door, could not have gone smoother, what with empty roads, empty airports, half-empty planes., and an almost entirely empty final bus to Oxford, with just me and one other passenger.
Coronavirus awareness was apparent in other ways too, with announcements in the airport recommending a two metre gap, making for long but civilised queues. And I was firmly ordered to “Stop!” by a masked airport official I was approaching for directions, a good four metres away.
Masks were the most obvious manifestation, worn by about two-thirds of the people I saw, including the woman in the seat in front of me for the final journey, who wore, in addition to her mask, a thick coat with the fur-trimmed hood pulled down low, so that only her eyes showed (no, me neither.) She may well have escaped infection, but I reckon was in danger of expiring through hyper-ventilation.
The important thing is that I am now home and – touch wood, crossed fingers, inshallah – well. My son Joe told me that he had been advised to stay home from the school where he works because of me. I did think this a little over-cautious, but knew they did have to consider the health of the pupils. When I finally realised that it was the other way round, and they were worried about the children, via Joe, infecting me, I laughed and laughed and laughed. I won’t be laughing if I get sick, of course, but hope I will still appreciate the irony.