Plague Diary: Glasgow and Glasgow
Outdoor life in Glasgow today was like an enactment of China Mieville's novel The City and the City. But, instead of two different nations in the same place, there is a Glasgow where there is a lockdown because of a pandemic, and a Glasgow where there is no plague, and no such law has passed.
And these two cities exist on the same streets.
The law requires us to stay at home unless we have an essential reason to go outside (for exercise, or to get groceries, for example), and no more than two people from different households are permitted to meet, and are required to maintain social distance. And there are people obeying the law, and many of them are wearing masks. But, on the same pavements are groups of four, six, more, unmasked, not distancing, talking and laughing together as they walk, because in their world there is no virus, never mind one that is more easily transmitted by talking than by coughing.
And, in blocks of high flats, there are signs next to the lifts declaring that only one person should use the lifts at a time, and that masks should be worn. And in those same blocks, unmasked strangers get in the lifts together. These two Glasgows met when a resident of one Glasgow — me, wearing a mask — got in the lift, and two residents of the other Glasgow — men without masks — tried to join me.
“One at a time,” I said.
“How come? We can all get in and just stand with our backs to each other,” one of them suggested. He was not joking.
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