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This month, August 2021, my far better half and I went up to London.

We made two trips, our first since March 12, 2020, 11 days before lockdown.

While there were not as many people milling around, there were enough to be reassuring.

A ground report follows.

Trains

We took a mainline commuter train to and from the capital.

We did not wear masks, although more than half of the passengers did.

Everyone seemed to be minding his own business, so no one had a go at us or the other maskless passengers.

Where we went

Our first journey covered the Embankment going to a private venue for a party. Going back, we returned via Fleet Street.

The eateries about which I had worried so much for 16 months are, in large part, still there, which amazes me with so many people working from home.

The only shuttered establishments I saw was a dry cleaners and a small Thai restaurant which had gone out of business sometime since 2020. Other than that, everything else was in operation.

Our second trip covered the Euston Road and the West End going to our final destination. Coming back, we went via Piccadilly Circus, through Soho, then down Tottenham Court Road and Grafton Street, returning to the Euston Road.

Once again, restaurants and cafés were open, which I found a surprising, yet welcome, sight.

Quite a few Britons were in the streets, milling around and shopping.

Venues

We went to private venues.

The first, along the Embankment, requested that we mask up in common areas, such as corridors and the conveniences.

No one had a mask on in the room where we attended a cocktail party.

We went to a second venue in central London for lunch. No masks were required anywhere, although those who wished to wear one could do so.

We did stop into a shop to get watch batteries replaced. As it was a small shop, customers were requested to cover their faces, which we did.

Conversation

Our friends were as relieved to be unmuzzled as were we.

The most common lockdown activities were gardening and frequent runs to the supermarket, if only to leave the house.

On the way back on the train last week from our second trip, the luncheon, a maskless thirty-something man sat across from us.

I made a deprecatory comment on a coronavirus article I had read in that day’s Evening Standard. The man picked up on it and the three of us shared our sceptical views on the ‘crisis’ for the rest of our journey.

When we alighted, he said that he purposely sat across from us because he prefers to be with maskless passengers.

Conclusion

While this is a short post, I wanted to let everyone know that London is up and running again.

It was great to be in the Big Smoke once more and see that life is returning to normal. We, too, feel normal now that we can resume our regular trips and social events.

See Parts 1 and 2 of this series before reading more about Britain’s silent majority who are angry about lockdown.

At present, here we are, unable to shop, get our hair cut and must still practice two-metre social distancing. Masks are optional except on public transport:

Whether we are old or young, we are treated like dirt:

And what if this coronavirus were dirt, rather than a virus?

If that is true — and I’m not saying it is — what then?

It couldn’t be, could it? After all, the First Minister of Northern Ireland, the DUP’s Arlene Foster, has briefed the Queen on COVID-19:

But what about all the deaths in care homes and the lives lost?

What about people’s businesses going to ground?

Thank goodness for the government’s generous furlough, but …

And what about travel?

This is going to be dire:

No more on board delicious dining for you:

What if you cannot reasonably travel with a face covering?

What about everything else in life?

Who wants to live like that?

This is turning the apolitical into political activists:

Is this ever going to end?

If so, how?

Perhaps it is a giant reset.

After all, we are told this is (shudder) the ‘new normal’:

The ‘new normal’ could be green:

Didn’t we all enjoy the bluer skies on those sunny May days? We could keep them. ‘Fewer holidays for you’, the government could say:

One does have to wonder about government advisors from the public sector:

These people do not encounter the everyday man or woman. They live in their own scientific, misanthropic bubble.

They do not care what happens to us. After all, they have a guaranteed salaries and gold-plated pensions.

To be continued next week.

By chance, I saw this tweet from France 3 television about one of their documentaries:

This clip shows a French patient who has Alzheimer’s. Rose is in assisted living (EHPAD), and her facility has implemented ‘train ride’ therapy.

The video shows a room with a mock SNCF (French railway network) departure board. Rose and her therapist go into another room which is set up as a train compartment. The window is a screen showing a film of the countryside just as one might see it from a train.

There seem to be a few choices of railway scenes for patients: countryside, the sea and so on.

This therapy is used for patients who become troubled or troublesome. In this case, Rose is often on the verge of tears.

Therapists say the ‘train ride’ calms the patients down. They ask the patients what they see as they are ‘travelling’, what they are reminded of and so forth. The experience generates a conversation about what patients remember from their past. Rose’s husband used to work for the SNCF, so she would have taken quite a few train journeys during her marriage.

This a brilliant idea. The therapists interviewed say it came from Italy, where it has been implemented on a larger scale. It is said to be in use not only for Alzheimer’s patients but also other mental diseases and traumas.

I like the creativity going on here, which really seems to work. I hope this brings out more interesting types of therapy for Alzheimer’s patients.

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