My first face mask experience today, on a train to Bradford on Avon. To my surprise, there were other passengers, too; some wearing masks, as you are supposedly compelled to do, and some – a back of a fag packet estimate – around a third not. Not going to lie: I hated the face mask experience and it took my mind of the journey, especially the lovely bit between Bath (I always like leaving Bath, to be honest, but that’s another story) and Bradford on Avon (BOA).
Maybe I will get used to it. That’s always a possibility. I was constantly aware of the hot air hanging around my mouth and nose, which I suppose showed the bloody mask was working, of a sort. We all know that the purpose of wearing non surgical masks is not to protect ourselves, because they don’t, but to protect others. I wore one today because the government told me to.
Having said that, when a large, very loud family got on the train at Bristol Temple Meads, in the seats behind me, I became COVID-19 aware. The first thing they did when sitting down was to remove their masks and have lunch. Instinctively, I moved into a different carriage. I suppose I must have felt a little threatened by the possibility of little droplets of the virus drifting across the seats. Or they might have been too loud and obnoxious. And when I arrived at BOA, I could not leave the train quick enough in order to remove my mask.
All those warnings about staying at home and avoiding public transport to ‘save lives’ has certainly worked and the trip itself while not being stressful in itself was not enjoyable. I’m supposed to be on an aircraft in two months. Hour upon hour upon hour of wearing a mask will be hell on earth for me.
I also went in my first pub since the lockdown was ended, or rather, as the weather was okay, the garden next to the canal. Apart from drinks being served on a tray, waiter style, and most staff, though not all, wearing protective masks, it felt remarkably like, well, a pub visit. Everything was socially distanced and everyone was relaxed. It was far more relaxing than I feared my first visit to my local, scheduled for and then cancelled at my local last night. The arrangements the pub had made to make it COVID-19 secure worked just fine. And the San Miguel went down a treat.
Back on the train, the return journey was every bit as unenjoyable as the outbound one was. Similar numbers of folk ignoring the ‘you must wear a face covering’ instruction and no one enforcing it. No inspectors either way checking tickets, either. And once again, the journey dragged as I couldn’t think of anything except my bloody mask. When I took it off, the cool afternoon breeze brushed across my face. It was the nearest thing to heaven I know.
Soon, Dominic Cummings will tell Boris Johnson to instruct us to wear masks all the time. Although we went through the peak of the virus in April, there was no instruction to wear them then. Now the virus has either plateaued or slowed considerably, it makes sense for this government to force us to cover up in the same way that foreign passengers were only forced to quarantine when hardly anyone was coming into the country. You couldn’t make this stuff up.
Mainly, travelling by train, wearing a mask, just didn’t feel right. Well, it felt like the right thing to do but it didn’t feel like the normal I am used to. How much we used to take our little freedoms for granted and now they’re gone I miss them more than ever, along with my boring old life.
Face masks are the future, maybe forever. That’s a grim prospect for all of us, isn’t it? I hated my face mask experience today. I’m not in a hurry to repeat the experience anytime soon.