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.