30.03.2021

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To say it has been an unprecedented year is the greatest understatement. This last year was "our war". With as great a set of intrusions into, and obstacles in front of our lives, but with far fewer casualties than the last actual affecting-all-society war. (Although Imperial College's prediction in March of 2020 was for a death toll equal to WWII.)

We all have our memories of this remarkable moment, all of which once this time is history, we will not believe could have been possible. Deathly quiet streets. Clear skies without con trails. Raucous bird song. Unkempt hair. Days wearing only pyjamas. The hunt for food. The obsession with toilet paper. The worry we might never see friends and distant family ever again. The fear that police would search shopping bags, and discover your forbidden easter eggs. (Chocolate for children considered "inessential", just as schooling was.)

One memory I will have is the PPE. Not just the huge hassle of wearing it - the mask that slides about, the steaming-up glasses, trying to quickly don it whilst simultaneously fishing for Oyster card, the dismay realising you left it in another coat - but the amazing amount of it discarded in the street.

BC (Before Covid) I bought my daughter a collapsible metal straw, we were getting accustomed to carrying spoons for use in cafés, my pockets filled with several foldable bags, such was the growing condemnation of "one use" plastic. But AC (After Covid) the oceans were forgotten, and "one use" plastic can be seen everywhere. Most oddly gloves. The kind that you only ever used to wear when gutting or de-boning fish.

Now the science is showing us that Covid does not transmit by surfaces (technically called fomites) - the gloves and gel and all that hand washing turns out to have been pretty needless. The abandoned gloves are certainly growing rarer.

The gloves are often thin, and look like sloughed skin. Folded into pained shapes, trodden on. To me they look forlorn. But writer Vladimir Nabokov thought differently, he invented a silly proverb in his novel Pale Fire: "the lost glove is happy". If that is so, I present gloves gleefully waving, dancing in glove paradise.

Quentin Newark

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