Viral Times

sea at Pendine on March 11th 2020Although coronavirus is evidently a serious threat to heath and wealth, there are some positives. Given the closure of the nearest swimming pool, I’ve taken to swimming in the sea instead. Yes, with a wetsuit. And the beach is so wonderfully quiet. Usually you don’t initially notice the sound of the waves because of the number of dogs barking and yapping and the sounds of cars on the coast road, the roar of planes high up. But now the first thing you notice is the whisper of the sea. I didn’t fully grasp how many car journeys are undertaken with the purpose of walking the dog, but it is evidently huge. The beach is surely convenient for the owner and a convenience, so to speak, for the dog. To reach a quiet beach you need to walk quite a way along the coast. But not at the moment. The water is cold, 8.2°C according to a surf forecast website, and I’m only swimming about a half a mile per swim. Whether I’ll be quite so keen when the sun stops shining deliciously, as it was today, remains to be seen. And the jellyfish only visit in the warmer weather so at the moment I’ve not yet seen one. This will no doubt change by June. There’s no prospect of surf at the moment. The photo is from a very low tide a couple of weeks ago. Sand all the way along the Marros to Pendine. Cafés were getting ready for the Easter hols. It was a great walk but about an hour after this photo I got mostly soaked by heavy rain, in spite of a good waterproof jacket.

The virus is not unexpected, in spite of people saying how unexpected this was. No, there have been a fair few human viruses in the last few decades, but they didn’t make it quite this far, SARS and MERS being the obvious human ones, or else they affected (e.g. AIDS) specific groups which the public mostly didn’t identify with, however illogical or unkind that was. But any gardener or beekeeper is very aware of the number of non-human diseases that have globalised in the last fifty years – varroa, sudden oak death, xylella fastidiosa and so on. Most people didn’t notice because they killed non-humans, for example, bees. Evidently we should expect more if we can find no other pattern of life.

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