Oxford As I See It

Am I the only person in Oxford or elsewhere who isn’t particularly upset about corona virus?  I mean of course as it affects only me; I know what others are enduring.

            For me, then, it has been merely the third shocking event in three months.  Knowing that my vote would make no difference in Oxford, I migrated to Brexitland before the election and worked for Labour in two marginal constituencies.   That election, so different from the one in 2017,was the first horror.  In February we heard of a serious illness (not Covid) in our daughter’s family, and have been worried ever since.  The lockdown has meant that we can only contact them by telephone or on Zoom. In a way, it is restful. 

            We (my husband John and I) avoid shops and people, but try to get a good walk every day in the meadows or streets, which are almost empty.  It looks as if most people aren’t going out even to get the exercise which is permitted.  The buses go past as usual, almost empty.  We won’t get on, because this might put the driver or other passengers at risk, so we don’t go further than about a mile from home. We don’t go to the canal bank either as some boat dwellers are isolating themselves and it’s difficult to avoid contact..  Wytham Woods are closed; visitors will miss the bluebells this year.  Flowers and butterflies are plentiful, but hay fever has come early!

            In Summertown, most shops and LB’s, the friendly Lebanese takeaway, are shut.  Dan and Paul, the Big Issue sellers, are not allowed to do business; I hope they are safe.

            Worst of all from my point of view, all the libraries have closed too and no one is even talking about reopening them.  So I contemplate re-reading the hundreds of books I have already got, and use Kindle.  I’ve also sent out postcards and messages to long lost friends.

            I last got to the Ashmolean (and noticed it was already rather quiet) on 9th March. Now it is closed, but you can look at the collections online, and the Rembrandt exhibition, which was expected to draw in thousands, was featured on the BBC Museums in Quarantine series last week.

        We live in a little complex of twenty-four houses.  The Residents’ Association has been active from the start, and has given out green, red and yellow cards which we can put in our windows to show whether or not we need help.  Only one person has had Covid so far, and he is better, but other neighbours of ours are frail or elderly, so outsiders are asked to keep away.  On Thursday evenings we show ourselves, wave to one another and enthusiastically clap the NHS.

by Merryn Williams

Photo by Benj Ceen

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