Visitors to the UK from “Amber” countries need to self quarantine for 5 days at a location of their choice. It doesn’t seem like a long time, until you go through it 😉
Long time no post, sorry about that. My son recently got married 🙂 🙂 🙂 To attend, we booked a trip to the UK. To visit the UK, we had to book more tests and fill in enough paperwork to send a French bureaucrat into a week-long orgasm. To fill in said paperwork and finish my pro work in time for departure, I had to cut down on DS publications.
But it was all worth it, and it was a nice rest 🙂 Thank you to all of you who so kindly wrote to check in on me. It is much appreciated!
Let me restart the machine with a quick post, we’ll get into more serious stuff next week (pile of work waiting on my return … 😉 )
My wife and I are lucky to own a house with a large garden. All the confinements we’ve been through in France were both porous (daily walks allowed, tenuous enforcement) and spent peacefully in nice weather in a privileged setting.
So the 5 days we had to spend in a (lovely) Airbnb flat in the UK didn’t strike us as anything noteworthy. Grab a good book, watch a few movies, stay in bed, eat plenty of cake, and it would be over in no time at all.
That turned out to be wishful thinking 😉
It turns out that not leaving the indoors at all is a lot more difficult than we had imagined. And since UK fines for Covid offenders reach £10,000 per person, and given that Home Office personnel checked our whereabouts every single day at random times of the day, we didn’t feel like taking chances …
I run and walk as much as time lets me, practise other sports, and generally work from my terrace, even in cold weather, for as long as rain drops don’t fall on my laptop and cold doesn’t numb my fingers. Outside suits me better than in.
The first day indoors felt like a rest. Particularly after the stressful administrative runnup to the trip and the waiting/flying/driving that is nowhere near as fluid as it used to be. So far so good.
The second exhausted my desire for chilling. All the interior pedalling doesn’t stop as fast as the body stalls. The desire to get out and enjoy the sun and grass picked up the minute that “well, this is restful” feeling subsided. It’s only at the end of that second day that my brain started to fully understand the meaning of being locked in.
People do bad thing and get sentenced to jail. Months, years or decades of it. At the end of two days, in a luxury flat overlooking the lovely park of a lovely little city, the reality of being locked in for such long periods began to sink in. How do they not go insane?
Yes, inmates do leave their cells every day, have social interaction and can learn and do work during their forced stay. But still … the idea of delimiting a perimeter and knowing you’ll never breach if for a long period is very scary to me. The disconnect with simple stuff such as grass and trees feels very uncomfortable and I realise how much easier it would be for me to live in a shack in the forest than in a palace high up in a skyscraper. My feet have roots that even 5 days in a first-floor apartment lead to wilt. How do you handle 3 years in a grey cell???
Day 3. The morning sun wakes me up at 4 something, like everyday, through this East-facing window. I feel a bit grubby, as one does after sleeping in too long, but rested, peaceful. The unwinding flow of 3 full days without work is fully flushing away the unnerving tension created by this relative captivity.
At some point during the day, like some Schrödinger Home Office cat, a visit or a call will make sure none of us are breaching the agreed boundaries of our physical welcome zone. Phone calls are just as efficient as in-person visits, because the location of your phone is checked based on what cell towers it pings on.
It’s a contract. They let us in for the wedding, in spite of the perceived threat paused by a bunch of French citizen on hallowed UK soil, in exchange for which we agree to limit or miasmic potential to the confines of a pre-booked abode. It feels like a football match: UK 70% vaccination, France 40%: UK sets the rules and holds the cup.
3 weeks-later, as those words are being typed, the score has become much less obvious to decipher. Is a Delta-variant goal worth 2 Alpha-variant goals? Do you factor in fatalities or does any of that enter the equation? Is there even an equation or are two cockerels simply thumping their chests for public acclaim?
But on the spot, I don’t care, it’s out of my hands, and it’s actually nice to feel guided, locked in step, as on a railway line. 1 more full day to go and the test-to-release PCR test (90 quid in all good bookstores) should free us, with just a few hours to spare before the wedding.
More reading. More looking out of the windows. More listening of passers-by on their school runs, breaks and pub crawls. From this low first floor, I can almost scratch their heads reaching out through the windows, but the pigeon in the tree doesn’t like me poking limbs out of my perimeter. I wonder if he’s trained by the Home Office.
Day 4. I’m grabbing my camera. Tomorrow, we’ll be free. At least for a brief drive to Luton airport for a third Covid test this week. Hopefully, there will be a queue on the road. Hey, maybe even a second at the test center, one can dream. It’s a funny state of mind, when you look forward to some unknown dude or dudette poking a 6 inch swab down your nostril just for the sake of amusement and change of pace.
Still, today, I wanna making a creative note of this confinement and associated feelings. In the WWII camp of Les Milles, close to home, prisoners waiting for deportation and death found it in them to paint astonishing work on the brick walls. Others started theaters in their cells while succumbing to deprivation and illness. Surely a healthy guy sitting out a sunny 5-day wait with family, shortbread and tea, hummus and Cloudy Bay Sauvignon blanc, nice views, good reads, good music, YouTube and Netflix can find the energy and desire to create something of interest as well, right?
Self-pity is easy when we’re placed in unusual situations, even not really unpleasant ones. At least for me, to my great shame. I work to a rhythm, value freedom above most everything else and hate anything getting in my way. And when I think of those prisoners who made a stupid mistake, or those thrown in to hell because they were born on the “wrong” side of some ideological fence, it makes me feel even worse. Selfishly, I imagine this could happen to me and focus on that rather than on the innumerable positives of my situation. Unlike Max Ernst, Otto Fritz Meyerhof and their unfortunate companions, I doubt that I could face permanent lockup with as much grace.
The photos on this page are my exorcism of those self-inflicted demons. There is no war, I’m here for a wedding, tomorrow I’m getting out. Let’s see what creative decisions can be made to celebrate this benign micro-incarceration.
I have windows to work with, props and strong light. More than enough, right? I let my eye roam freely, in a sort of meditation, not looking for any grand composition or momentous event. Associations of ideas form, rhyming details get noticed, oppositions in feelings happen.
After 30 minutes, new photographs begin to feel forced and unnecessary. I delete them and stop, to rediscover this short list roughly 20 days later. So much has happened in between that they had drifted out of memory. Ordering them on this page feels wonderful, almost like putting up a post sent in by another contributor. I write those words from memory, feeling really happy that day 4 saw me pick up my camera. 5 days of nothingness can in fact lead to something interesting 🙂
End of Day 5. Tests negative. We almost feel bad walking out in the open 😉 More about this trip soon!
How have you been? What new horizons are opening up for you?
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