Social Distance

We had enjoyed the fish and chips

With a glass of white wine

Our meal only slightly tainted by the whiff of corona virus, Covid-19 in the air

The sterile formica tables and clinical strip-lighting

Could not protect our conversation from being infected

Along with eighty percent of those about us

With the impending sense of gloom


So we jumped in the car and set off for a bar

Turned down a side street and came to a halt

A man lying in the road, rolling in a puddle, perhaps of his own making

Unable to get any leverage, to even get close to vertical

‘Is he ill?’ I asked, “Very drunk” my brother warned

“Are you alright, mate?” I offered as an opener

I handed the speechless man the carton of cigarettes from the floor, “Here, I’ll help you up.”


I gripped the shoulders of his jacket

Braced my legs, heaved him to his feet

He came up off the tarmac like a bag of grain

Surprisingly, with ease, he weighed nothing

He made left, I steered him right

So he might use the wall away from traffic

To lead him on, steady himself, slow his next fall


He wanted to shake my hand, make contact

Recognise the help I’d given

I patted him on the arm

“Take care of yourself” I called

As he repeated his unseeing thanks

Stumbling on as we drove off

Our social distance under-scored


n.b. Social distancing is the phrase being used to describe how citizens of the UK should interact, i.e. no closer than arm‘s length to reduce the likelihood of catching Covid-19 from an infected person.

This is not to be confused with getting too close to people of the lower classes, such as the voting public, as practised by Old Etonians on assuming high office, such as Her Majesty’s Prime Minister.

If I see someone laid out in the road, I have a choice. I’ll decide.

CLP 12/03/2020


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