Some people gathered on Church Square in Pretoria are seen maintaining physical distancing and wearing masks, while others ignore the guidelines for preventing the spread of the coronavirus. Picture: Jacques Naude/African News Agency (ANA)
Some people gathered on Church Square in Pretoria are seen maintaining physical distancing and wearing masks, while others ignore the guidelines for preventing the spread of the coronavirus. Picture: Jacques Naude/African News Agency (ANA)

Covid-19 lockdown: Don’t stand so close to me; else I’ll call the police

By Joubert Malherbe Time of article published Jul 5, 2020

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This lockdown business, along with the coronavirus pandemic, is pretty much playing havoc with the psyche of the nation, I reckon.

The other day, we went - en famille - to visit the newly-reopened Rietvlei Nature Reserve, one of the gems of the capital. Kudos to the authorities over the fact that we now have access to these facilities, including the Groenkloof and Faerie Glen reserves.

At Rietvlei, we were pretty lucky in terms of creature spotting and it was a fine day.

One of the first noticeable sightings was a rhino chomping away at grass in a field. Like the others in the reserve, it had been dehorned, to deter would-be poachers from killing it.

What an indictment that is upon us as humanity; the fact that magnificent creatures of the wild have to, effectively, be maimed for their own protection and to shield them from the avarice of some members of the race that call themselves the “pinnacle of creation” (sic).

After a couple of hours of driving around, we stopped at the Rietvlei Coffee Shop which, according to Covid-19 protocols, didn’t provide sit-down services. We settled for some takeaways and gave our order to the guard at the entrance.

He was very pleasant and took our order to the kitchen about 40m away while we waited in the parking area. Quite a few other nature lovers were hanging around as well.

I was, naturally wearing a mask, as were the others in our party.

All of a sudden, I had a tickle in my throat, and I emitted a cough. It was a regular kind of cough, but it obviously put the fear of Jah into two women who were standing a few metres from me.

I thought of the superb song, Subterranean Homesick Blues, on which Bob Dylan waxes about the man in the trench coat who got laid off as he had a “bad cough”.

They swiftly scarpered some metres away and threw reproachful glances in my direction. I don’t blame them, as the other day some geezer behind me in the queue at Woolies in Doringkloof Mall coughed and I felt an involuntary shudder going down my spine.

I thought of humming that song by The Police on which old Sting proclaims “Don’t stand so close to me”; a veritable anthem for these times.

On another lockdown tack, I find the ding-dong about wine and other drinks (not) being sold in restaurants, even if you’re having a meal, baffling. Surely these eminent folk in the so-called Command Council have better things to keep them occupied with than wanting to regulate as many aspects of our lives as possible.

As far as cigarettes go, like I’ve said before, I am no longer beholden to a nicotine habit, but smokers are getting a raw deal, I think. Their fate makes me think, once again, of that song by The Beatles on which old John Lennon sings “I cursed Sir Walter Raleigh/he was such a stupid git”

Raleigh was an explorer and naval officer who popularised tobacco in the UK and who was eventually beheaded after falling foul of King James I.

The smoke thing is every bit as maddening as that business about (not) buying T-shirts unless they’re worn as undergarments; not selling any open-toe footwear, like sandals, etc. How will you enforce that?

The hoo-ha reminded me of that spoon-bending skit of Monty Python; an honorary spot in the pantheon of pointless endeavours.

Anyway, with Covid-19 rapidly increasing in our neck of the woods, it is up to us - as CR17 intimated - to beat the pandemic.

So, once again, keep safe!

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