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Things once so normal, already seem weird and unsettling

PUBLISHED: 12:46 31 March 2020 | UPDATED: 13:33 31 March 2020

A quiet Rampant Horse Street. Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMAN

A quiet Rampant Horse Street. Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMAN

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Editor David Powles asks what is the new normal in a coronavirus world?

Isn’t it amazing how quickly things become the new norm?

Like the morning commute taking no more than two seconds as you travel from one room to the next. Or the sounds (some welcome, some not so) of two youngsters being home schooled in the background while you try to edit newspapers and websites. Or key meetings with your hard-working team being conducted via videos and from various offices and living rooms, rather than in person.

And on the flipside, this week I was given an example of where things that had previously been so normal, suddenly become a bit weird.

Having, like many, been evicted from my office with very little warning there were a few items left behind that I consider integral to be able to do my job in the long term.

Aware of the need to avoid unnecessary journeys, I’d gone as long as possible without them, before deciding Monday afternoon was a good time to quickly nip to the office to safely retrieve them. Whilst there I also nipped to the nearby Tesco Local to pick up a few essentials, observing all of the social distancing rules of course.

Never before would I have imagined such a simple chore to be so disconcerting.

In the moments before I left the house a wave of anxiety came over me, with questions like ‘should I be doing this?’ and ‘is this an unavoidable journey?’ coming into my mind. It was a small glimpse of what those who suffer from agoraphobia or other serious anxieties must go through every day.

Walking the 300 yards or so to the shop was similarly discombobulating.

The first thing I noticed was the peace and quiet. For perhaps the first time I could clearly hear the birds singing along Ber Street and outside John Lewis, previously drowned out by the buzz of the city.

In the shop, social distancing was being adhered to, with limits on the number of entrants and white lines marking out two metre points so people would stay out of reach of others.

A couple came in and decided, for a reason known only to them, to completely ignore this and go wherever they wanted, near to shoppers and near to staff, despite their appeals for them not to.

A feeling of fear and anger came over me at this point. All I could think was ‘how dare they invade my and other people’s space like that’ and ‘why we’re they being so inconsiderate?’.

Hopefully these feelings are perfectly normal right now and a sign of the fact that I was doing all I could to ensure that trip did not cross any boundaries or put anyone in danger.

However, I don’t half look forward to a time when the old normal becomes the new normal once again. And it will.

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