. . . we’d only wear masks for fancy dress, when socialising was just so free and easy and when you could walk straight into a shop, supermarket, pub, restaurant, museum, gallery (or indeed any public venue) without a thought or a care in the world?
It’s a year on since Boris’ life-changing address to the nation, when he announced a full, freedom-limiting lockdown to stop the spread of COVID-19. We probably remember all too well that was broadcast live on a Monday evening, the 23rd March 2020. We also probably remember those days leading up to that point of panic-buying, toilet roll shortages and shelves, where shops once stocked the most basic food stuffs such as rice, pasta and flour, were completely empty.
On Saturday March 21st, I’d gone food shopping into Bolton. I found the town centre supermarkets just too busy, plus they had a manic and almost aggressive atmosphere that I’d not experienced before, so instead, I headed to the market.
Gone are the days when you can take the opportunity to take the weight off your feet and have a chat with a friendly stall holder . . .
. . . likewise, with social-distancing, we’re no longer able to gently push our way through a crowd to see what’s causing so much interest at a certain stall.
Despite a sense of foreboding that gripped us all that weekend, the market was still a pleasant place, with stall holders cheerily serving their regulars . . .
. . . although, maybe there was a sense of worry creeping in too?
Queues here were nothing like those in supermarkets either . . .
. . . but signs of the times had started to hit the market units selling food and refreshments. This Fish and Chippie situated on the corner of the covered market has a sit-down restaurant area that had already been impacted by a ban on eating inside, although they were still able to open for take-way service.
As I write this, on the verge of one year’s anniversary of lockdown, it’s just been reported on the BBC that the 50% mark has beed reached in terms the adult population having received their first vaccination. Having said that though, optimism is still being tempered with caution by both politicians and experts.
Let’s hope then, that there’s a continuing improvement in the vital statistics we all track avidly each day, so that restrictions can be eased and so we start seeing big smiles returning to our unmasked faces very soon.