Ed joined me for my daily walk around Edgbaston this evening, the dry and dusty streets carpeted with faded blossom petals and fragrant pine needles as this once in a lifetime spring drifts ever on towards summer. Hundreds of metres of fresh bunting and Union Jack flags had appeared overnight, strung out across front gardens, driveways and cars in celebration of the seventy-fifth anniversary of Victory in Europe.
Blossom petals dance along the pavement, lifted by the breeze, painting the drains, gutters and curbs a soft, ballerina pink. In a suburban park alongside the Rea Valley cycle route, a girl of six or seven shows off her ballet moves to her mother and grandmother, performing effortless twirls in her frilly dungaree shorts while residents from the terraces that border the park jog slow circles around the football pitches.
On a beautiful spring day as the fruit trees put on their magical display, the children’s play park sits empty, the gate taped shut like a crime scene.
March has been a strange month. As always, it started in winter and ended in spring, but we have also transitioned with the seasons from normal life – work, trips to the botanical gardens, plans for trips to the forest and mountains this spring, and a camping trip to France for our tenth wedding anniversary this summer – to a state of lockdown which may last six months or longer. All of my work – weddings and documentaries – has been put on hold for the foreseeable future. Ed is off school and doesn’t know when he’ll go back. September? December? Who knows.
In the East Asian supermarket with Chopin’s Waltz in B Minor looping in my head from my morning’s piano practice, Ed and I perform a dance of our own in the narrow aisles. We hang back, waiting for the refrigerator to be free so that we can pick up some galangal, only for someone else to give us space in the noodle aisle.
Outside Tesco while we wait in our designated bay, a cloud of cigarette smoke makes me cough, and then panic that the security guard will think I have the virus and deny me entry. Our turn comes to enter the shop and we pick up a single lime and two vegan magnums, shuffling forward through the queue, maintaining a constant marked distance of 2m from customers and staff. I could get used to this new normal when it comes to the etiquette of personal space.