June 2020

Eyes in the Back of your Head Things are very different in May but back in the early days of lockdown, we were more cautious when we went outside. When our governments instructed us we may leave our homes for one period of exercise per day, going out early seemed to be the safest time to do it. In March, initially, there were few people about but, as the first weeks progressed, more and more people found themselves outside at the same time. The roads and streets are nothing like crowded, of course they’re not, but, to maintain a safe physical distance, you now need to keep your wits about you. It’s a little easier after the change to British summer time—but people are now returning to early appearances. This means you dart to and fro, like a hurtling ball bearing in a life-size pinball machine. It’s safest to widen your view around bends, for example, by crossing the road to see around the curve. Take the outside of that curve. At corners, use reflections in shop windows to get a forward indication of who's about. It’s the pedestrian equivalent of being an advanced motorist. Sort of the walker’s version of Information, Position, Speed, Gear (face-mask??), Acceleration. High garden hedges obscuring junctions and driveways are particularly problematic. Go out early enough and you can walk down the centre even on main roads, giving you options to veer or back at need. Don’t get caught walking next to pedestrian guard rails such as the sweep at the Craft Centre where there’s nowhere to go. Watch out for narrow footpaths such as Lôn Speiriol; the path alongside the new Ysgol Penbarras; that between Trem Menlli & Bro Deg; the Cunning Green; from Cae Castan to Bryn Rhydd and farther to Erw Goch; at the side of Tesco by the allotments; from Mwrog Street to Llys Erw; and from Denbigh Road to Parc y Dre—to name a number. And then there are runners. They can sneak up behind you and, for this, you really need eyes in the back of your head. They creep up like a pantomime villain. There are also runners and runners. Walking along Ffordd Glasdir one morning, I actually found myself slowly and steadily catching up with a lumbering, ponderous, red-faced runner when, all of a sudden, the runner turned around and began labouring towards me. As you pass someone at a distance, whatever else you do, always remember to say s’mae, hi or helo/hello; or bore da/good morning. Add a smile and wave. Little touches matter in difficult times. And that’s one of the wonders of the age: stranger or not, most respond. That you won’t always find in ordinary times.
Archive from 2013 Historic Interest