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27 May

Coronavirus Diary with OV Jeremy Thompson: Entry 10

It is incredible how the weeks of lockdown are building up. We are now on entry 10 in OV Jeremy Thompson (S 61-65)’s Virus Diaries for Sky News.

Monday 18 MayOV Jeremy Thompson

I know it’s only golf, but it feels like the first tentative steps back towards civilisation. My first round for nearly 10 weeks. The first time in my car for two months. It’s a beautiful sunny spring evening as Ian and I set off round his course at Fulwell.

Our swings are slightly rusty, but we’re not disgracing ourselves. Just to walk and talk is a tonic after weeks of isolation. Foxes stroll casually on the fairways looking slightly miffed that the humans are back on their patch. Crows are picking untidily at the greens. We wave at fellow golfers, who look as chuffed as us to be liberated. As we enjoy the sunshine and our 18-hole walk to freedom, Ian tells me about his daring adventure.

He’s just back from Geneva after the sympathetic Swiss authorities allowed him to fly over to see his girlfriend. A COVID-19 style conjugal visit. Not only a social delight, he tells me, but a pleasure to be in a city that’s almost normal, with most restaurants, bars and shops open and, err, working like Swiss clockwork.

Our golfing gang in Spain is out in force for their first outing – club captain Thompson Keating reports that it’s like the first day back at school after summer hols. Lots of smiles, new haircuts and excited reunions. After 10 weeks of no golf, the course looks in great nick, but not so all the members. A bit of mission creep around the midriff in some cases, I’m told.

The clubhouse is closed. So they leg it up to the local bar for a 19th-hole session that sounds a bit close for comfort. La Policia clearly thought the same and broke up the party on grounds of social distancing infringements. Fines are threatened.

No danger of that around here. There are no bars open up our high street. A couple of coffee outlets have started up. But otherwise there are a lot of shuttered shopfronts as many small businesses fight for survival.

Another painter pal, Andrew Ntshabele, is using COVID-19 newspaper headlines in his latest collages to focus attention on the plight of Johannesburg’s inner-city poor, made even worse by the virus. His sales are helping to pay for food parcels in the local community.