It's not a sprint. Or a marathon

by Black Sheep, 30th March 2020

Likening the fight against coronavirus to a long-distance run is proving quite irritating to some

Do you dream in colour or black and white? It’s a valid question. As is - already - whether you dream in pre or post-virus. As I've just discovered.

I was in a record store. One of those nerdy collector record stores where everything is in vinyl, and anyone asking for even a CD would be carted off for self-isolation. Lord knows what they’d do to anyone asking for an iTunes voucher.

Anyway, I’m minding my own business leafing through dusty record sleeves looking for… I’m not sure… Perhaps the Japanese release of a live recording of Mott The Hoople’s one an only show in North Korea. Before North Korea even existed. Or maybe a copy of Agadoo. Who knows? It’s a dream.

It’s then that I chance upon a flyer for a favourite singer of mine, which says he's performing live in a theatre just down the road in a couple of days’ time. As I grab a copy so does a stranger, and we both read the description of the event, which sounds a bit weird. I look up at the other person and say: “Could be good, could be sh*t.” (I swear in dreams. Too much.)

There’s a lot of nodding and then the sweetest of smiles. “See you there,” says the stranger - a pretty young girl, proving conclusively that dreams can be outrageously far-fetched even at the worst of times.

Apart from the depressing realisation that such flirtatious days are at least three decades behind me, waking up also brought home the harsh realities of life in 2020. Because for a moment - as you do immediately after a particularly vivid dream - I considered whether I wanted to go to the gig. And then it hit me.

It'll have been called off.

I’d been dreaming in pre-virus. Those halcyon days when we could amble down to a pub for an impromptu pint, grab a coffee somewhere, go see a film, have dinner with friends, go on holiday. Drop the kids off at school, for god's sake.

If nothing else, my dream underlines the fact that what we find ourselves in is a long way yet from being the new normal.

And let's pray it never will be the new normal, despite the repeated mantra from medical experts that our fight against the outbreak is "a marathon, not a sprint". Which is actually my biggest bugbear about all this right now. That phrase, there: "a marathon not a sprint".

Not that I'm the only one ranting at the TV screen every time some mad professor trots it out. Coz the London Marathon was set to host around 45,000 runners in April. And in Brighton, another 12,000 were set to pound 26.2 miles of pavement the week before, while kicking off all such nonsense, on the 5th April, the Manchester Marathon was due to be won by - you guessed it - yours truly (possibly... A podium at least).

But what irks us idiot runners most is actually not that the races have been called off. It’s that the virus could have struck a couple of months ago, before we all started getting stuck in to our longest training runs. That would’ve spared us the agony of 20+ mile slogs for a month of Sundays while at the mercy of Storms Ciara, Dennis and Jorge, when every other sane person was in the pub tucking into a carvery watching the rain lashing the windows.

But oh no. Storm Covid-19 had to wait for us to finish all that. And then - THEN - say: "Sorry mate. It's not happening."

Okay. So it’s not the end of the world. None of us died. In fact, statistically speaking, the cancellations of those marathons probably prevented two or three deaths. So every cloud, and all that. But after repeated double laps of Lake Llanyllanllan, it’s going to take a long time for my legs to get used to the idea that they won’t be running halfway round Greater Manchester at the weekend.

The new normal? Never.

A mutton for punishment, Black Sheep welcomes all comments. Email blacksheep@borderpublishing.com to air your points of view. You can also read Black Sheep in Welsh Border Life every month. 


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