There was nobody in the cemetery today. I don’t mean that the way it sounds. I’m sure there were a large number of bodies in the cemetery, because that is what it’s for. But there was nobody above ground, apart from the maintenance staff.
You may think this is a strange thing to be remarking on, but it was a sunny day, though a bit chilly, and during the various lockdowns we have been enjoying over the past year or so, the number of people walking round the cemetery has grown gradually, until last week we were remarking on how many there were.
The Rosary, as I have mentioned before, is a beautiful place to walk round. It is hilly (for Norfolk), wooded and beautifully laid out – in that rather unusual way that makes you think subliminally that it hasn’t been laid out at all.
It is easy to see why it should attract people who want to walk for exercise (what other reason could there be?). At the outbreak of lockdowns, hardly anyone was there. Then gradually people noticed it, but it never became crowded. Crucially, dogs were banned, and still are.
So why nobody today? Because today people can go to non-essential shops. There are queues outside Primark and Debenhams. The roads are full of traffic. And of course if you can queue outside a shop or sit in traffic, why would you want to walk round a cemetery?
I sometimes think there are two different human races, and I don’t mean a sprint and a long-distance. There is the race that will stand in long, cold queues for non-essential shops, buy a dog during lockdown, drop litter without thinking about it, and rush out to the pub and sit outside in a bitter wind drinking a pint, just because they can today and couldn’t yesterday. And there is the other race.
It would be invidious to say one is right and the other is wrong. I wouldn’t say that, obviously. But there is a gulf fixed between them. Isn’t it remarkable how different we are?
I know what you’re thinking. You like dogs but don’t stand in queues. You like pubs but don’t drop litter. Perhaps I’d better rethink it. There must be an equation that solves it. Let’s put Sage on to it, do some computer modelling and invite a few research studies.
I know what will happen. We’ll end up with several million human races – or mutations or strains, as they will be called – and we will need another lockdown to cope with it. That’s when I shall head back to the cemetery, possibly for the last time.