Inventing and maintaining the Nottingham Board is one of many contributions to the sport of Ian Vincent, presiding guru of Britain's Nottingham Croquet Club. If this conversation alone, among a few of the 1,000 or so subscribers, saves just one life--and surely it will--we say it's well worth it. It features the usual blunt wisdom of Dave Kibble and many other British and Commonwealth regulars.
The conversation mirrors the evolution of my own thinking on these issues. Perhaps you will recognize yourself as well. I am shocked to recall that just two weeks ago, I was contemplating a big-ball croquet event in a state park, demonstrating a "safe protocol." THANK YOU to everyone who made me change my mind. There is croquet-specific intelligence here, sparked by some innocent but impudent questionings, beginning with:
Tom, that might be fine, but are you taking your own hoops? If not, are you wiping them down afterward? The door handles & locks you touched, getting to the hoops? Toilet? Kitchen, if you made a hot drink? Basically it all gets too complicated, and better to just minimise exposure until covid-19 dies down - stay home, and just do walks for exercise....
Tom was talking about using his own balls. If using shared balls, given the milling pattern, I guess wiping would be potentially inadequate. I'm also guessing that, being plastic, they'd come to no harm if they were immersed in a bucket of soapy water and scrubbed with a nailbrush. But it seems a very unlikely cause of cross contamination anyway, compared to a supermarket trolley or a door handle, and that in turn is less risky than being near someone who coughs or sneezes.
Nothing is risk-free - including staying at home and getting no exercise. Rates of suicide and domestic violence are already...rising, and no doubt heart disease and other diseases of the sedentary will come in their wake if we all sit in front of daytime TV or social media. Getting out provides physical, cognitive and social stimulation which can make you more resilient if you do contract a virus. Being out in the sun can... dramatically improve Vitamin D levels...and Vitamin D is good for the immune system and also helps recovery from chest infections.
We all have to obey the current legal restrictions in place in our own countries. In some cases there is also government guidance which is more restrictive but not enforced, which it is wise to follow, especially for those more vulnerable to this dreadful virus and less at risk from staying home, or who have
David, I can assure you that I do understand the point of social distancing. Exercising in the fresh air on a large field of grass on my own; hundreds of yards away from any other human being and possibly animals is much safer than going shopping. I am being refused that and only hope that when out shopping I don't become ill and can no longer look after my wife.
If everyone stays at home then it works.
If people make their own decisions it doesn't.
Please stay at home and stop believing your actions don't count.
We have something to do and if we all do it then it is for a few weeks and the consequences are not so bad as they could be if we don't.
It's not a balance of pros and cons for you to make. Just stay at home, please.
I would also like to point out that Croquet Clubs are places of work for employees, and those employees deserve to be protected as much as possible from contact with others because they don't have the luxury of choice of being there or not. "Contact" includes sharing of surfaces touched. The Department of Digital, Culture, Media & Sport has ruled that volunteers should be viewed in the same way as employees when doing essential maintenance work. This advice is aimed at facilities not being destroyed through neglect during the lockdown as they will be sorely needed afterwards. In the croquet world, volunteers are likely to be in the high risk category and definitely deserve to be protected.
There are plenty of ways for croquet players to get exercise without playing croquet - they would just prefer to play croquet.
I find Tom's wide-eyed innocence quite charming; his belief that "closed" means "shut to all but Tom" is just like some of the clips circulating on WhatsApp of puppies doing delightful tricks.
Getting all the dimensions and hoop positioning, etc right was quite time consuming, but an interesting exercise and made me realise what a good job the lawn setters and hoop setters do at the Club. I just have my trusty mallet and a Garden Croquet set that I had about 15 years ago (before I got into real Croquet.) The balls are correct, but the hoops are just sturdy wire hoops (which very satisfyingly direct the ball through if it hits the inside of one of the vertical wires - bending it outwards in the process).The lawn surface though turned out to be very uneven and it also has a significant slope from South to North. It time no doubt it could settle in and get smoother and I might be able to cut it "low". Not somewhere though where I can enhance my skills, but I got some exercise out of it and it is good to be out in the fresh air, doing nobody any potential harm. I have almost run out of gardening jobs and am on the cusp of having to get to grips with the intended de-cluttering exercise of house and shed that I felt this enforced isolation would be ideal for. Can't put it off much longer!
JONOTHAN IN URUGUAY:
Many of the passengers we would usually be transporting are workers in London, travelling from various South-East Coast towns & villages. For the most part, these are the people most likely to conform to government guidance on social distancing and personal hygiene practice, as well as the guidance to "stay at home", thus most of these travellers are now working from home, and not travelling on trains any more.
With nearly all of these "conformists" gone, that leaves the rest of the people travelling on trains (and indeed generally frequenting the public domain). A tiny minority of these remaining passengers are other "key workers", in roles such as healthcare and emergency services. We are also transporting just one or two people to allow them to go shopping or visit the doctor. These are all deemed "essential journeys".
That then leaves everyone else who is getting on a train, who is making a non-essential journey. These "non-conformists" are currently by far and away the vast majority, and they are the type of people who had no real regard for health and general hygiene before the pandemic, and have no intention of changing their practice for the well-being of themselves, least not anybody else. These are the people who will continue to leave their homes, see their friends, visit their nan, cough into their hand, wipe their nose with their hand, spread the virus, bla bla bla. Ultimately, it will be these folks we will have to thank for a full-on draconian lockdown.
If you choose to make a non-essential trip to a croquet club, it really does not matter at all how good your intricate health & hygiene routine is, it takes one of these "non-conformists" to walk past you and cough, and you've had it. Sure, it's a minimal risk, but if you chose to forego your trip to the club, your risk goes from "minimal" to "nil".
These are dangerous times, and absolutely anything that unnecessarily increases this risk, however negligible you may feel it is, should be avoided.
Stay at home.
The conversation stops at its logical end, for now, with this important reminder: It took place over a course of WEEKS, over which time the thinking of many subscribers--including my own--evolved tremendously, albeit invisibly. As China opens up again, and South Korea looks towards a return to something resembling "normal," we can remind ourselves: From the local starting point of a traveler returning from afar, a single new and novel viral infection leads to a wave of infections and deaths which over weeks builds to a crest, while in the meantime, another traveler....
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