She said petrol was one-twenty a litre (which was ridiculous, even on top of the mountains) because of coronavirus.

Yes, because coronavirus is in the fuel now, we said.

She didn’t get the joke, or didn’t think it was funny.

One handred! said my Russian friend.

No, she declared, one hundred -twenty.

The day was long. We wanted to spend it in the mountains. So, we paid up and rode away.

Little did anyone know, a great event that would suddenly, completely change the world, had touched us with the fingers of its approach.


It was done sneakily: First they announced a one-day lockdown, a day before it began; before the end of the one-day lockdown, they announced a further six-day lockdown; two days later they announced a twenty-one-day lockdown. I had decided to leave as soon as possible on day one.

I tried to leave -i could not: all flights were banned, no movement by vehicle, anywhere, without permit.

The Israelis, the Germans, the Scandanavians, the Italians, the Chinese -the Chinese, FFS!- were taken home by their governments, special arrangements made. If you were from England though, you had to stay, because England doesn’t like to make special arrangements unless there’s something in it for them.

The Russians had flown-out the day before the airport closed. I sent messages around the world. In the fabric of things fear fluttered, more like birds than butterflies. Fear is the first enemy. I practised my mantra and mastered the rush, rode its peak and stepped off from it. I settled in to the new world order.




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