Covid lockdown two: coffee queues, traffic jams, staring at shops and boredom

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it’s said the name Hove derives from the old English hufe, meaning shelter or coverage. But it did not feel sheltered on Saturday morning. A biting wind whipped in from a sea that looked, in James Joyce’s memorable phrase, “scrotumtightening”. Overhead a dull rain leaked from a dishcloth-grey sky.

Yet the promenade was filled with hundreds of walkers, seemingly oblivious to the elements. Welcome to the second lockdown, a conspicuously more external event than its predecessor.

“I remember walking along here during the first lockdown,” said publican Sue Morley, standing outside Starbucks on the high street, “and there was no one around. No cars. No people. Nothing. Now it’s just like normal, whatever normal is.”

Normality, as we’ve come to learn, is a relative concept. But first time around there was something rather spectral and unnerving about the UK’s near-abandoned streets, as if a neutron bomb had gone off, and the only people to survive were deeply suspicious of each other.

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