I have been a teacher for 31 years, a head teacher for 16 years and, at the age of 55, this much I know about…how we must keep on saying, “Hello”.
I hail from Sussex. One of the unexpected pleasures that struck me when we began living in the North was being greeted in the street by complete strangers. People I had never met said, “Hello” as I walked along York’s pavements. For a southerner, it was initially unnerving, but soon became a reassurance. Whilst I will never be an assimilated Yorkshireman, I felt welcome in God’s own county.
A five-mile early morning walk around York is a staple feature of my lockdown day. I follow a route along the River Ouse. I see dozens of people. It feels odd, but understandable, that we skirt around each other, maintaining a healthy two metres of separation. But what has upset me is the bowed heads, averted eyes and the awful silence. I mouth, “Good morning” but rarely is my salutation reciprocated.
Whilst we keep our distance, there’s no need for us to be so distant.
In a post-Coronavirus world there will be a new normal; I just hope the hearty Yorkshire “Hello” survives.