Distance Project

The Distance Project 15

Social Distancing Project 127If the ceremony had gone ahead as planned, this scene would have been packed with hundreds of people. The low platform, recently rebuilt for the ceremony, would have been filled with Buddhist monks and nuns, some from Japan or other countries with peace pagodas.
The man beyond the platform wearing dark trousers and a white shirt is from the Parks Trust; it’s their land. Like me, he was there to observe, but not participate. Anyone else you can see here is just a passer by.

The Peace Pagoda Ceremony

It’s been forty years since the Peace Pagoda in Milton Keynes was finished. This year’s ceremony, the 40th at Willen, was planned to be an important milestone event. Hundreds of people from all over the world would attend and I was looking forward to it.

But the lockdown put paid to that idea. Officially, there was to be no ceremony at all this year. But I turned up to take photographs anyway, to see if anything would happen.

I thought I would perhaps see a monk or a nun chanting for a few minutes, or I would be sat there all afternoon on my own. Either way, I would take photos, if only to record an absence.

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The Distance Project 14

Testing Times.

I had a letter recently, asking me to take part in a study into Covid-19; I had been selected randomly. I accepted at once, and a test kit arrived on Saturday.

The letter with the test kit said:

“Thank you for registering to take part in the in-home coronavirus antibody testing research study, which is being conducted by Imperial College London and Ipsos MORI, an independant research organisation, on behalf of the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).

“This study will help the government understand how many people in England may have already been infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 and to help develop its approach to COVID-19 antibody testing.”

On Tuesday I followed the instructions and did the test. To find out what happened, read on…

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The Distance Project 13


Social Distancing Project 113Approaching the Centre:MK shopping centre, a woman and child already have their masks on.

Keeping Covered

I had a book to collect, so I drove up to Central Milton Keynes, with my mask and some book tokens.  New rules about wearing a face covering or mask had come in on the 24th of July, four days earlier. Shop workers are not required to cover their faces, but sometimes they do.

Like the majority of people there, I wore my mask all the time I was in the shopping centre. We are required to do so under the rules.

By the way, some bookshops will accept book tokens on their websites; I ordered another book online and it arrived today, paid for by book tokens. Also, Waterstones will accept their own gift cards as payment online.

It's thirteen weeks, three whole months I've been on this project. I’m just numbering the photos I show you here as I go along, and the last photo here is number 120. But I have many more photos that I’m not showing you.

Sometimes photos won’t come across well on the blog because the relevant detail can’t be shown here clearly enough; the blogging software compresses photos and they lose fine detail.

Other photos may repeat something I’ve already shown you, but they need to be kept, to preserve as complete a record as possible. All the previous posts on the Distance Project can be found here. The project is to photograph what people are doing differently under lockdown.

Social Distancing Project 114This family group in the Centre:MK wore a variety of face coverings. Children under 11 like this girl do not have to wear a mask.

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The Distance Project 12

Social Distancing Project 105In Winslow High Street, the painter has put these cones up to encourage people to keep some sort of distance. It’s difficult; the High Street is on a main road and the pavement isn’t very wide.

Market Day at Winslow

Wednesday is market day at Winslow, in the square. They have a system in place with separate entry and exits points. I parked in the High Street. As elsewhere, there’s a semblance of normality in the town.

A couple of pedestrians gave me a tip about a cluster of paintings and drawings in house windows, in a side street off Verney Road. After I had finished at the square, I drove up to see.

As ever, you can find all the previous posts on the Distance Project here. The project is to photograph what people are doing differently under lockdown.

Social Distancing Project 106Queueing at the Winslow deli, almost opposite the benches.

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The Distance Project 11

Social Distancing Project 95With my electro-mechanical hat on instead of my photographer’s one, I maintain and fix the machines at the Washeteria launderette in Church Street, Stony Stratford. Here, I’m checking to see that a dryer is working okay. Since the lockdown, If I work there it’ll be in the evenings, when the launderette is closed. There are no issues with distancing then; I’m on my own.

More From Stony Stratford, and what I’ve been up to under lockdown.

Many of these photos of Stony Stratford were taken back in mid June, and some lockdown rules have been changed since then. There’s also some shots from my own life, to show you how I deal with social distancing.

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The Distance Project 10

Social Distancing Project 84Gin in the garden at Little Horwood.

Gin O’clock at Little Horwood

It’s 5 pm, and the sun is shining. Chrissie Beckett, who doesn’t like to be photographed, (see last week) has put out chairs; it’s Saturday afternoon and it’s gin o’clock.

Women from the village walk into Chrissie’s front garden and sit down. They’ve brought their own drinks, but sometimes they can be tempted to try a different gin. Chrissie is out of shot to the right, in the first two photos.

Later on that day at the Shoulder of Mutton pub, the landlord Lewis Huntington is delivering meals that customers ordered earlier.

He’s been doing this for some weeks, and delivers beer too. The beer deliveries started when he was caught with lots of beer in the pub, at the start of lockdown.

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