There are a few ‘re-worded’ songs doing the rounds at the moment. Most of them are pretty clever, lyrics changed to reflect the current circumstances. Walking around Wellington’s waterfront this afternoon I had my own attempt buzzing around my skull: Walking in a Covid-normal World. There is no more; those were the only lyrics I could think of. Neil is much better at these things than I am.
We walk differently now. No longer do we wander casually, keeping our line, moving from it only when we pass someone slower than us. Now we plan a route, on a narrow pavement prepared to step into the road, on a wide boulevard bouncing off invisible spots two metres from other humans, a game of human-pinball. Most people follow the rules, pleasant acknowledgements from the required distance. Faces light when they see someone they know who isn’t in their bubble, who they aren’t currently allowed to socialise with as they might normally do. There are waves and huge smiles, and happy calls cross the distance.
Dogs have no idea what social distancing is, straining at the leash – a frantic human trying to pull them back – towards someone they recognise and from whom they know they will get a nice rub around the ears. Children also struggle, weaving about on their bikes as parents try and herd them to one side or the other, shouts for them to stop before they are too far away when they would normally be allowed free range of this safe area.
The city is changed, reports yesterday of a karearea, the rare native New Zealand falcon, hunting starlings between the high rises in Wellington. I hear the piwakawaka everywhere, have spotted one a few times – are they normally there and their call masked by other city sounds? Today there are more cars. I wonder, having learned what level three will look like, if people are relaxing their vigilance as though we are already there. It’s a risky manoeuvre – too much breaking of current rules and we face them being extended, walking a little longer in this Covid normal world.