Back in the UK, the situation changes on a daily basis. I read a woman with corona virus caught an uber to Lewisham A&E. That in a separate but equally bizarre incident, an infected doctor did two shifts in an A&E in Brighton. Who would have thought to worry about being out and about in either place a week ago?
Just goes to show, life is a risky business however prepared and protected we think we are. Here, even if I stay at home 24/7 I am not guaranteed 100% safety. Numerous builders have been visiting to quote on an extension, Mr Leung catches the minibus to the outdoor market every day, and neighbours, who nobody knows where they’ve been or who they’ve seen pop in and out. One close neighbour has been ill and hospitalized overnight. Not for Wuhan virus, but hospitals are maybe not the best places to be right now.
Set against all of this, last night Mr Leung, if I have understood correctly, told me that in future he would rather I did not spend any time with my family and/or Winnie. This of course I sort of understand and I am also very grateful for all my host family’s kindness, but with all the recent comings and goings I am not eager to agree to what effectively might be 4 weeks of a weird sort of quarantine . And then this morning I hear that the builders arrive to begin work Tuesday and it will be very noisy and dusty between 8am-6pm. An interesting conversation follows.
Of course practically everyone, including me, has an opinion on the virus. And, as the situation changes on a daily basis, both locally and internationally, the response to any given situation seems also to change. Here, as UK citizens were, and still are, over Brexit, people are very divided and vocal. Three key themes pop up continously. Carrie Lam, the Chinese and the virus. Many a heated debate. Some from behind masks, others barefaced, brazening it out. I sit at meal times with a mixture of amusement and horror, watching as someone who believes everyone should be forced to wear a mask, repeatedly uses his personal chopsticks, to help himself from a shared dish…
On and on and on. So many opinions. Where one should or should not go, whether it’s safe to meet and eat in or out with friends and family. Whether it’s worth shelling out £35 on a box of 50 flimsy masks that were made in China (for the record I did, mainly to be seen to be doing the right thing by my hosts rather than believing they really do offer protection now I’ve done more research).
My head is a mush with it all and my phone is clogged with all the updates on the situation being sent to me.
I need to get away for a day. Come back to my own rhythms and thinking, even if only for 24 hours. And be alone to figure it all out. So just for the moment I’ve come into the city. I have had, what I hope is a solution focussed conversation with the Leungs, and told them I would like if at all possible to continue to see my family and friends, and will move out if needs be. It seems we are all concerned for each other’s safety but have different ways of assessing risk. I stick to an arrangement to meet up with my big brother, his wife Willa and Winnie. Great to be with my big brother, as I haven’t seen much of him so far this trip and mostly I feel very comforted and calm in his presence. He is always eager and happy to tell me stories about life with my Mother, but talking about who might be my Father is a definite no go area of discussion.
Later, I head to the far end of HK Island where I can be alone. Just me watching all my own thoughts coming and going. I know I can figure stuff out given time and space.
I pass the temperature check in the empty foyer of the Travelodge, clutching my box of masks that cost more than the room and 500ml of hand gel that is quadruple the cost back home.
The sight of a king size white empty bed and four plump pillows and a big soft duvet, in a huge by HK standards, room, has me smiling with relief and joy.
With much love on Valentine’s day, this day a year ago, I flew from HK, home to the UK, after finding my birth family. HK has a very vibe right now.