We were sitting on a bench by the sea shore, six feet apart, enjoying the warm spring weather, breaking another silly law: drinking in public. That’s because one of Muriel’s and Camp’s neighbours complained to the town council about us sitting on Camp’s front porch, disrespecting distancing guidelines. I never thought I’d see neighbours denouncing neighbours, not for hiding illegal aliens, but for acting normal. Clare put it bluntly: ‘This virus outbreak will bring out the worst in people and the best. People will rally to help and support each other or rat each other out.’
‘This will turn into a carnival’, Campbell or simply Camp to all who know him, prophesized.
‘And how is that,’ I asked, not sure if he meant a celebratory or a destructive kind of event. He was about to let me into his fantasy world.
I called Camp on his phone. A rare event since I usually see him at the store, the pub and lately at each other’s house. ‘Apparently, we need to consider all of us as asymptomatic,’ I said, ‘meaning we’re all potential carriers of covid-19 and as such need to keep our distance. Should we meet halfway at Armours Beach and bring our own bottles and sit six feet apart?’ I asked.
Camp dropped over for our weekly debrief over a couple of beers. It was my turn to host and l stocked up on some Coronas since I heard that the brand was hurting. Clare let him in but instead of hug gave him a reserved wave from 6ft away. It’s the new intimacy. How will we ever get past this distancing is anybody’s guess. Fact is I don’t like it, coming from a culture where three cheek kisses are customary greetings. We sat down in my upstairs office which has a view of the coastal mountains, Keats and Gambier island but it’s not the same as being in our pub right on the harbour.