Updated: Mar 31, 2021
Apparently, Vitamin S is the latest, must-have vitamin, to improve your health and vitality. Paul van Lange, a professor of psychology, has co-written a paper all about its importance to our wellbeing. Unfortunately, you can’t take it with a glass of water, although you could get it in a pub or restaurant – that’s if we were allowed inside one right now. Vitamin S is “Social Contact” that all-important element of our existence, that's been missing this last year. Professor van Lange is investigating, “why it’s so important to our wellbeing”.
Well, I can’t give you a scientific reason, but I know it’s important to me. As someone who will happily chat with anyone in bus queues, supermarkets, walking the dog etc., I have found social distancing exceptionally difficult. Shouting across a two-metre gap stifles spontaneous conversation, not helped by the muffling effect of the wretched masks. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve said, “I’m sorry, I didn’t quite hear that.” Out walking, people will politely back themselves into a thorny hedge rather than pass too close on a narrow footpath or will give such a wide berth when there is room, that you feel like surreptitiously smelling your armpits - just in case.
Oh how I long for normality, and I don’t mean the new normal people keep talking about, (no, I don’t know what it is either). I want the old one back please.
I recently came across photos of these paintings done some years ago, which perfectly depict the normal I’m yearning for. It was a Jazz Weekend in the South of France. The musicians trumpeted and drummed their way around the village, collecting followers in their wake, like latter-day Pied Pipers. The jostling crowd bounced, trotted and jiggled along to the rhythm, laughing and singing together. Friends and families, neighbouring villagers and tourists all joined in. The combination of great music, and that collective camaraderie of pleasure shared, was glorious. We all ended up in the village square, where everyone, young, old and in-between, danced or sat at tables outside, enjoying the scene, and savouring their coffees and pastis in the Spring sunshine.
I won’t shout “Vive la France”, since Monsieur Macron is not my favourite person right now, to put it mildly. However, I hope that despite him the villagers in Provence will have their vaccines, and be able to enjoy their wonderful Jazz Festival again this year.