The picture of the triangulation pillar was taken at the southern end of Stanage Edge looking west towards The Hope Valley and the snowy hills beyond. This location is almost in my back yard - just a short drive from our house in Sheffield's southwestern suburbs. I have been up there many times in varying weather conditions. It is a good place to put everything into proper perspective.
See this blogpost's title: "Before". It occurred to me that the image was captured before COVID-19 seeped into the world, before many thousands died, before the masks and the social distancing, before the vaccination programme and the travel restrictions.
Though it was not taken in a time of innocence at all, looking back it kind of seems that way. If someone had come up to me on Stanage Edge on that wintry January day just two years ago and told me that the world would soon be experiencing a deadly pandemic that would touch every country on the planet, I might have openly scoffed. It would have seemed like the stuff of fantasy or wanton scaremongering.
A year after snapping that photograph, in late January 2020, I was listening to an item on BBC Radio 4 about the worsening epidemic in China. One of the contributors to that discussion suggested that things were going to get worse, much worse before they got better. It could so easily turn into a pandemic. He further suggested that one day we might remember the world in this way: pre-coronavirus and post-coronavirus. It sent a chill along my spine. Not pre-war and post-war any more but pre-COVID and post-COVID. It seemed incredible.
I told my chums in the local pub that night but they looked at me as though I was bloody Harry Potter. Of course, this was before, before the wild eyes and the microscopic agents of death arrived - those minuscule fur balls - like little spiky mines riding Atlantic waves and The North Sea during World War Two. Yes, this remains our war - stranger than any that have gone before.