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Nigel Cuming

Definition is in the eye of the beholder

As my wife and I returned to Jersey from a pleasant family Christmas in the UK, we contemplated what we had planned for 2020. A visit to Paris in January to see the Francis Bacon exhibition at the Pompidou, followed by a series of concerts around Europe to see favourites such as John Prine, Elbow, and the exceptional Nick Cave, followed by the late summer wedding of a nephew and his bride in Sorrento.

Perhaps it was an omen that our year started badly. On our first night in Paris, and a mere 100 metres from our hotel at which we had recently arrived, my wife tripped over a hidden bollard on a badly lit street and broke her kneecap. This resulted in both a somewhat restricted visit and an interesting journey home. However, everything is relative. John Prine has to cancel our concert due to ill health and return to the USA, shortly after which he died of COVID-19.

My overriding view of the pandemic is to reflect that despite the many upsets, such as being unable to visit my elderly mother in her locked down nursing home or my sick brother-in-law in hospital, we are so much better off here in Jersey than if we were living in the UK. Blessed with fantastic weather and a wonderful coastline, lock-down still allowed us to take advantage of what Jersey has to offer, albeit on a time restricted basis.

We constantly compared our situation to that of people in the UK living in cities. Imagine living in a high rise flat in the east end of London with all local parks closed. Once the lock-down rules were partially lifted, we looked in horror on TV at those crammed and crowded beaches in Brighton and Bournemouth, contrasting it with a near empty Archirondel beach basking in the late morning sunshine.

I adjusted well to the new normal. I tried not to buy too much toilet paper, but if everyone else is doing it, why take the moral high ground? I coped well with social distancing, and whilst out walking, didn’t mind very much at having to step off pavements to avoid three abreast teenagers staring intently into their phones. I had no trouble with supermarket queues, I just got there early and read a book until they opened. I easily managed the wearing of a face mask. In fact, a friend of my wife told me it suited me. However, I drew the line at elbow bump greetings. How naff is that?

Finally, my heart goes out to everyone who has suffered a bereavement or adverse economic impact over the last few months. Let’s all hope it soon gets better.