The Coronavirus Diaries, 2nd February 2021

Sad news tonight that Captain Tom has died. His fame may not have spread beyond these islands, but here he became a hero last year, walking up and down to raise money for the NHS. He turned a hundred in 2020, just as my own father would have done had he lived. Yesterday we learned that Captain Tom was in hospital with pneumonia and had tested positive for Covid 19. He died this afternoon. The flag over Downing Street has been lowered to half mast. I’d like to think it was true respect, but I fear it’s more likely to be PR. I don’t know if it’s lockdown or age that makes me more emotional, but I cried when I heard the news.

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Being Mortal

I seem to be spending a lot of my time thinking about death at the moment. It is probably the influence of several things:

Aunt had a suspected heart attack a few weeks ago; Aunt in Belfast died last Monday; there was the walk to remember Mike who died of pncreatic cancer; yesterday was Remembrance Sunday; it would be Mother’s 95th birthday 26th November; after hearing him interviewed by Will Self at Conway Hall last week, I bought a copy of Atul Gawande’s book Being Mortal: Illness, Medicine and What Matters in the End.

Celia rang me as I was hurrying off to work this morning to say Gawande was on Radio 4’s Start the Week. I haven’t listened to it yet, but I have checked that it is available to listen to on the BBC On Demand online. Continue reading


The Closing Ceremony has begun. The Games are over. David Weir blew our minds this morning when he won the wheelchair marathon. I have a host of new heroes after these last ten days, but David Weir is the one I admire the most. And tonight he is one of the flag-bearers of Paralympics GB with Sarah Storey. When I wrote about the opening ceremony, I said that I expected we would become as familiar with the Paralympians as we had the Olympians. So it has proved. Yes I knew about Oscar and Ellie, David and Sarah. I even had a passing acquaintance with Johnny and Hannah , but it wasn’t like it is now, where I feel as though I have been on an exhilarating and unforgettable journey where they have lead me to highs I never knew about. And I have a hero on the French wheelchair rugby team, Riadh Sallem who kept my attention riveted with his determination and competitiveness. He has star quality, by which I mean you have to watch him, he radiates such energy.

Sallem Makes a Break

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