Coronavirus Diary 39 – The false dawn

I hope everyone is well.   Before I get to my post I read for the first time a news-piece that actually related to me during these virus ridden times.

Solo lockdown is really tough. While people on Twitter and Facebook posted of much-awaited reunions this weekend, and their frustrations at not being able to embrace those they were meeting, that’s been my reality for two months. The last hug I had was on March 9 — yes, so important I know the date. Those of us who are alone are in a uniquely difficult position right now, My weeks are just reminders of what I don’t have & what I won’t have. It’s heartbreaking. Seeing FaceTime & social media posts of happy homes, families, and beautiful lives stabs me every time.”  You can read some or all of the article here

I’ve been doing this blog for 8 years and I sometimes think how some of my original readers might not be around any more and not just because of my dire writing.  I’ve been thinking of my tourists too, many of them retired these last 7 years.  I wonder how they are doing.

It’s very sad as sometimes I have tourists who I just know won’t be around much longer.  Sometimes they tell me and sometimes it’s just very obvious.  No-one would ever factor that in to being a tour guide.

No-one has any great expectations of their supermarket worker or corporate client but everyone has expectations that their tour will be at least good and from my point of view it’s a lot of pressure as holidays are so precious.  If your burger isn’t just right or the person on the end of the phone is a bit grumpy that is somehow ok as there will soon be a chance to eat something better, have dealings with someone more amenable.   That’s not the case though for a tour or trip.  If it turns out bad for whatever reason, that’s it for the next year.

Sometimes that is it forever. How to make half a day or a day walking around as fun and meaningful as possible when you know your customer might not be around in 2 months or equally as challenging when one of the two people is suffering in this way or they have signed up for a 5 hour walk but they can’t walk past the front door of their hotel.   That’s a big responsibility as a person let alone as a business. It’s just one of the aspects of giving tours that people don’t think about.

I know if I make it through this virus then I am definitely going to travel more.  Having survived a plague and being pushed under a train; I think I have reason to think after working non stop for 7 years somebody somewhere is probably saying… go on holiday Stephen and make the most of things!

In my really selfish world I would be the first person to receive a vaccine and then I could travel for 6 months without worrying about not taking tour bookings and I can see what will happen is that I will just be rushed off my feet and my 7 years without a break will become 14.

Especially as some many people in the west travel incessantly and now in many other parts of the world.  Even unemployed people on my old street would go away for a week here and there and trendy environmentalists would jet off to India or the Caribbean and then go off for long-weekend city breaks in Europe or their holiday homes and there’s me always careful with my money and the planet but always the bridesmaid and never the bride.

I still can’t believe that the first winter this century where I haven’t got really ill is this one with the virus.  I always was more worried about the money than the dying from the virus and nothing has changed at all.  My mind is already skipping forward and thinking of the coming winter but that’s what happens when you’re prone to chronic chest illnesses.  Every careless cough or sneeze that to someone else is just a cold might just be it for me and now the world knows what my life it like. I wouldn’t dare say it is a bit of medical schadenfreude as that would sound bad but a little bit of Bruce Willis in Die Hard…. Welcome to the party pal! that seems to fit my particular type of gallows humour.

I feel a little bit like one of those characters in a horror film or black and white war movie where against all the odds they get through the worst events imaginable and about 2 minutes before the end credits they get shot by a rogue sniper.  If the sniper misses me though, I want to go on holiday.  Preferably to a desert where no-one speaks English or any European language.  Such places might see you more likely to be kidnapped, stand on a landmine or be involved in some freakishly unlikely series of events that end up in one meeting their maker but I wouldn’t be in a crowded room or train… it’s just the getting there that would involve that.

About Stephen Liddell

I am a writer and traveller with a penchant for history and getting off the beaten track. With several books to my name including several #1 sellers. I also write environmental, travel and history articles for magazines as well as freelance work. I run my private tours company with one tour stated by the leading travel website as being with the #1 authentic London Experience. Recently I've appeared on BBC Radio and Bloomberg TV and am waiting on the filming of a ghost story on British TV. I run my own private UK tours company (Ye Olde England Tours) with small, private and totally customisable guided tours run by myself!
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