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Comment: Why we can stay safe without being a slave to Covid

Does anyone else have the feeling of existing and not actually progressing or even living? Or being made to feel guilty for the most innocent of behaviour?

In the past six weeks I've been threatened with violence by a thug in a bakery, snapped at by an elderly gentleman in a cafe for sitting near his cap, and part of a group at Ferry Meadows that was disturbed by an elderly woman windmilling her arms and shouting 'social distancing' at us.

Now, on Sunday, I encountered another example of someone wanting to lash out.

I was out litter-picking with my six-year-old on London Road - as ever, plenty to go at - when a woman walked past us. I could tell out of the corner of my eye, as we bagged yet another wet wipe/Red Bull can, that she had slowed, and looked round at us a couple of times.

And finally, about 25 yards on, the payoff: "Don't you think about coronavirus?" she shouted through a face twisted in anger, before turning around and continuing on her way.

Nope. Not thought about it at all. Never entered my mind in the past hour, which I let her know in no uncertain terms. 

I don't want to permanently be the slave to this. I'll wear the mask and I'll socially distance, but not from my own daughter thanks very much. And are we really at a stage where we can't go out and clear up our community? What, is there Covid in the cola bottles and crisp packets now? Can we do anything without judgement?

As an aside the woman was smoking as she shouted at me - one of the biggest build-up mechanisms of litter in the world, of course. 

I will wear a mask and stay away from people, and stay within my social bubble. I won't pass comment to people who aren't wearing a mask, because I don't know their story. I'll do everything I'm allowed to.

But I am not shutting down my life completely. Like many, I've barely had a holiday this  year. There are friends I haven't seen this year yet. I haven't been on a train since January. My football team won a league for the first time in my lifetime and I can't see them play.

I tweeted about the litter incident, and a reader responded with a similar view into the madness: "Had a similar (much less frightening) experience in the fish and chip shop in Hempsted as a couple shouted in the door 'the truth about all this will come out soon!' Everyone was confused and just carried on. People are weird."

Every time we publish stories about the stats of Covid and how cases are rising, we get people dissenting and telling us it's all rubbish, even from official government sources. We've had to block some from using our FB pages, as they were harassing others or linking to obscure conspiracy sites.    

There are more reasoned alternative views opposing lockdowns and strong action - however, once these are raised, on our site or elsewhere, there is an instant rebuttal - "Who cares about the economy when people are dying?"

Well, everyone should, surely? It's not just one or the other, and for many a lockdown without more financial assistance will lead to their downfall.

Businesses are crashing across the country and world, or at their very wits end. Posts on social media from those who have been 'excluded' from financial help - an estimated 3 million people - continue to darken further. People are experiencing mental health issues, with no jobs and an inability to see their families and friends. And there are patients who have not been seen or treated for non-Covid illnesses and diseases. 

We are seemingly heading towards another UK lockdown, but there is a real feeling of civil disobedience in the air, much more so than in March. We had optimism of short-termism then - that's not the case any more, and not everyone can afford to not live any more.

I know it's 'only' litter-picking. Maybe we'll think better of it next time, even though I don't want to.

But when the small act of going out with a six-year-old who wants to care for her community becomes something to be criticised, we really are living in perilous times.