PHOTO DETAILS Comet C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE) captured above Verbier earlier this week by Melody Sky
I’m currently spending a few days in Verbier, Switzerland as a guest of top photographer Melody Sky (http://www.melodyskyphotography.com/) and learning how not to fall off my e-mtb quite so often thanks to the excellent guiding and coaching of Jon Wilson (https://www.verbier-gravity.com/). Setting aside the spectacular terrain and great company, the most striking thing about Verbier in particular and Switzerland in general is that life here is almost back to pre-coronavirus normality.
There’s none of the fear and alarmism that now surrounds almost every aspect of daily life in the UK (and to a lesser extent France, where I was last week). Bars and restaurants operate pretty much as normal, face coverings are not compulsory and social distancing is minimal; people do not cross the road to avoid their fellow man and woman for fear of getting within two metres of another human being and inviting almost certain death – in short life feels much as it did before the world took leave of its senses over dealing with this damned virus.
And before the naysayers pronounce that such reckless behaviour will invite a second spike, there’s no sign of it yet despite lockdown effectively ending several weeks ago in Switzerland – indeed, levels of infection and rates of death are quite similar to those of Wales, which raised its skirts, leapt onto a stool and has been shrieking like an old maid afraid of a mouse in the kitchen for months now.
Having enjoyed a taste of the ‘old normal’ it makes me more reluctant than ever to return to the ‘new normal’ that the media and more timorous of the UK population seem to relish. Maybe it’s only to be expected that a place like Verbier, populated with ballsy outdoor types (many of whom have had and recovered from Covid-19) should have a more robust approach to living with the virus, and clearly precautions need to be taken against the disease and will be required for some time to come, but Switzerland seems to have got the balance right, whilst at the opposite end of the scale is Wales – scared of its own shadow and seeing businesses, careers and livelihoods sink without trace to guard against a disease that yesterday was contracted by just 0.001 per cent of the population.