The Coronavirus Diaries, 9th January 2021

A stunningly beautiful day: cold, but with bright blue skies and when you in it the sun was warm. Octavia and I met and went for a walk. There has been a short series on BBC4 this week called Winter Walks. Five well known figures have gone for a walk alone but with a camera recording a 360° view of what they saw. I have seen three of the five programmes. Don’t think car chases, or indeed anything fast, though one farmer had a fine collection of old tractors he was happy to talk about with Lemn Sissay. In some ways it reminded me of those short filler pieces between programmes back when all television was in black and white, things lies a pot being thrown. Slow, mesmeric, and somehow deeply pleasing. the filming has been edited down to thirty minutes per programme. when I have finished writing this post, I shall probably watch the two remaining episodes. The fact that the words Series 1 follow the title means, I hope that there will be more. I was struck by how in the three I have seen (Lemn Sissay, Simon Armitage and Richard Coles) at some point each muses on the power of walking and landscape to soothe, to heal, to inspire and to calm. I shall be shocked if Selina Scott and Sayeeda Warsi say anything to the contrary. The programmes made me more than ever want to get my boots on and get out into the country, but with strict instructions to stay local, Cynthia and I are planning an urban walk from our front doors to Norwood cemetery next week. we need to plot a route. The most direct way is along main roads, but they will be the most polluted, so we would be better sticking to side streets, housing estates and parks. It’s going to be an adventure.

Still thinking about walking and how my daily lockdown walks are the highlight of each day, I recalled another television programme from some years ago called Brat Camp. Difficult teenagers, selfish, insecure in some cases, often troubled, sometimes spoiled, all of whom were in conflict with parents, school and other authority, were taken off to a wilderness where hiking through the days and spending their nights under the stars, they learned self-reliance, self-respect and survival skills. In the short term it seemed to work, though I should like to know how they fared in the following years. I am sure some fell back into old ways and for others it marked a turning point in their lives. How about Overweaning Politician Camp? Trump, Johnson, Bolsinaro, Farage and Erdogan could be the first recruits. Brat Camp was a much kinder programme than say Big Brother, as that programme relished human weakness, whereas the thrill of Brat Camp was seeing the gradual transformation of the teenagers, who despite themselves began to love the great outdoors, the simplicity of their wilderness existence, and to appreciate what they had to offer the world. I used to discuss it with a psychotherapist friend who had been fairly sceptical about the idea when she first read of it, but we both found we were cheering those troubled teens on, willing them to succeed.

The idea that some of our worst politicians and their supporters might walk them selves back to a more balanced state of mind is one I find deeply appealing. And I should derive no little comfort at the outset of their travels to see Jacob Rees-Mogg, Priti Patel and Michael Gove with the backpacks loaded walking up a steep hill with map and compass.

Stay safe. Keep well. Enjoy your walks.

9 thoughts on “The Coronavirus Diaries, 9th January 2021

  1. The only thing that will reform Trump is a labodomy, if not that 20 years in prison will keep us safer and give us great satisfaction. He truly believes he is above the law.

    • He looks to me like a very unhealthy person, I should think his life expectancy isn’t great. I have been enjoying catching up with the Americast podcast on BBC. It’s funny as well as informative and I understand it’s available worldwide on BBC Sounds. It is for an audience this side of the pond, so it helps me to understand better how the process works stateside.
      One of the things I wonder is what Trump was planning for the future. I mean at some point he would have to leave the White House because even if he had won this time he would not have been able to stand in 2024. Do you think he was intending to do a complete power grab and become president for life?

      • Yes, he wanted to. He had hinted at it early in his term. He didn’t want to be president, because he put very little time into being president (not even receiving security briefings) but he enjoyed the power to make money from it and to do what he needed to feed his ego.

        • Wait until morning to read this.
          Oh Isobel. After 5 years of seeing him do unimaginable things, things that would bring any other politician to a guillotine, I can’t fathom a guess. I really don’t think our democracy could have held. He was lining up his children to take over if he died. They are as self-centered and evil as he is and have political aspirations. In spite of my optimistic last post, this has been dead serious. We were really in trouble and the average citizen (like me) didn’t know what to do. Most became terribly fatigued and withdrew from following politics in order to maintain their mental health. Trump has also stated he wants to set up his own news outlet because Fox News hasn’t been loyal enough – they called Biden’s win. There is a large army of white supremacists like Bannon and Miller assisting with charging up the base with lies and conspiracy theories. I would guess they are working hard on it now after Trump has been blocked from most social platforms. We are in such a mess that I sometimes wonder if I am going mad, becoming delusional, and making this all up. It is only good journalism that brings the assessments of brilliant, informed, and highly respected experts to the viewing/reading citizens that suspend me between thinking this can’t be true and feeling despair that it really is true. So far our democracy is holding.

        • History tells us these things will pass. However the pain will they endure is hard. We have a similar, perhaps not so extreme, but I would argue equally dangerous, scenario here. People calling themselves patriots who are simply milking the country and duping ordinary people to follow them and do the dirty work. It is instructive to see how UK politicians who cosied up to Trump first delayed in congratulating Biden and are now distancing themselves from Trump. Social media is the new genie out of the bottle, and so long as the platforms refuse responsibility for the lies and rhetoric perpetuated it’s going to be an uphill battle. There was an interesting piece on the news about how local news in the US is dead and how people get their info from social media. The same is happening here, but of course it is a much smaller country. There will always be politicians like Johnson who are willing to support the Trumps of this world and admire them. Fortunately there are also others with more probity. Stay strong. We will get through this.

  2. Walks through the hill forested park next to home are the highlight of our lockdown nowadays that we are confined in our municipality. I truly share your opinion about the healing power of nature and walking. And about mixing the two!
    Unfortunately we have some Spanish candidates for your suggested Brat Camp …

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