I think I'm becoming a real bumpkin. I look at the television news; I see crowded streets in London, in Nottingham, in American cities, in Paris. And then I see these same places showing deserted streets, objects of wonder as yet another localised set of restrictions is imposed in an effort to halt the spread of the virus. And then I spend today looking at my surroundings: not the glowing trees of the past weeks, the woods and waterfalls, the lochs and seashores - not them, but instead the town in which I live, and of which I'm illustrating three aspects in this blip.
The main photo comes from this morning. I was visiting my sports therapist for another session of therapeutic agony (think strong thumbs boring into painful tendons in my foot ...). Her shop is towards the far end of the street on the right. Dunoon Primary School, with its new extension, fills much of the left foreground; the children are in class, so it is silent and only three people congregate at its entrance, chatting. There are two men just beyond the pillar box on the right, though one is hidden in his shop doorway. And that's it - not another soul. Beyond the street end you can see the hills that encircle the town. It's not raining, yet.
In the afternoon I walked to the church to join Mr PB in recording a couple of my favourite hymns for the online All Souls service, and to practise some accompanied plainsong for the live morning service. He drove, as his knee was protesting that he'd walked too far yesterday; I walked there and back just because ... you know ... The left hand picture shows the church tower above its surrounding trees, right at the back of town. I saw one person as I walked there. The last picture is the view later, as gloom turned to dusk under a clearing sky, of the Firth of Clyde beyond the houses of the West Bay area. It felt very lonely, though in fact I saw four separate people as I walked home. One of them greeted me warmly - a former chorister from the church choir of 40 years ago.
Why am I detailing all this? Because it was so obvious today that unless I go to the supermarket (which I shall, on Friday) or the pub (which I won't) I meet hardly anyone. When I was teaching, I could have been in any secondary school; now I'm remembering what I felt when I was at home with a toddler and went out on a Wednesday because Wednesdays were totally dead; shops had a half day (unlike Glasgow, which had a Tuesday) and I used to feel I might go mad. Nowadays, I suppose I'm grateful for the emptiness.
Finally, I heard a scary story today about a woman who came here for a holiday the other week. She wasn't feeling too good, but she came anyway. Then she tested positive. The rest of the tale is an example of thoughtlessness and panic on her part, and one which I can't retell because it's easily identifiable. But the lessons are clear.
Is it selfish to want to keep our emptiness for ourselves, for now?