These days, London feels unusually quiet.
I have been walking a lot since I arrived, mainly because I like to give some tasks to my body so that my mind doesn't take over my whole being, which apparently doesn't seem to work, given this post.
In my walks I have seen less people, heard less noise and felt a general atmosphere of heavy quietness floating over the streets. It is true that talking through your mask feels a little ridiculous, so that might be the reason why people are quieter than usual, including -thanks god- small talk. If only for this, I am grateful about this silence.
Walking in the streets around the normally busy area of London Bridge with the only soundtrack of my footsteps, sometimes I have met people coming in my direction, and I feel there is a reciprocal quick scan, and little gestures such as turning slightly your face away, in case some little bastard viruses want to jump from my mask to discover the hidden territories of the other person's mask's fabric.
In any case, when you cross paths with a person, sometimes two, I surprise myself thinking "Are they from the same household?". Everything is weird. Weird is the new normality, because we accept it.
Some people are wearing the mask on the streets, I don't do it and at the moment I don't feel the pressure of having to. Where I do feel pressured is when entering and leaving places: I have been constantly invited to put sanitiser in my hands every time I enter or leave a place, which for whatever reason reminds me at a scene from The Marx Brother's "A day at the races".
Maybe we will end up having a sort of points card or "passport", with a stamp every time we check in by a sanitiser, until the skin of our hands disappears and we have only bones left.
These are the things I think about when I am walking in silence: noticing the changes, creating stories, seeing how hyperbolic everything is, and using these aspects to ignite my imagination. Maybe I think like this because I haven't been here during the darkest hours. Coming from pristine Arctic lands, we have been able to keep a fairly normal normality.
This heavy quietness allows me the space to consider these ideas, play with my thoughts in this way, receive and contemplate everything around me from the vantage point of my brand new eyes.
I haven't lived the whole process of the covid, the lockdown and the new normality: I just found it from scratch at Heathrow arrival few days ago. I am still quite overwhelmed about the changes around me, not to mention the ones inside I still need to deal with. And I am still coming into terms with all of them. I feel the changes, the new processes, the new indications and rules, the new atmosphere, the silence...
Or maybe there is more silence only because it is Summer in London, and I need to do more walking.