The Coronavirus Diaries, 27th May 2020

Well I did read the papers, and I can’t say I am reassured. If Cummings is the best advisor Johnson has, I’d hate to think of the damage the worst could inflict on us. Anyway I came across this thread on Titter and it is a wonderfully clear and concise breakdown of recent events. Do click and read it here. Clear and concise not being adjectives one can apply to Cummings, Johnson or just about any minister I have heard recently. Usually the words “we have been quite clear about this..” mean they have obfuscated and are continuing to obfuscate to a dizzying degree.

Thank heaven for cats say I. Continue reading

The Coronavirus Diaries, 19th May 2020

I had something, a washing machine perhaps, where the dial would move with a satisfying click as it worked through the programme. The trajectory of our lives during the Coronavirus crisis feels a bit like that, only without the satisfying bit. We started with fear, resentment, I felt tied at the very prospect of lockdown. Then it started and worry played quite a big part, worry about falling ill, about loss of earnings, about survival, while at the same time there was a dawning feeling that this was in someway a special time. We were living through something, to use a very overused word, unprecedented in our lifetime. Flyers came through our letterboxes very early on, volunteers offering to help us if we were ill or self-isolating. The skies became quiet, the roads devoid of cars. Birdsong, not car engines was the sound of morning. Some people began to say this would be the dawn of a new world, a world of empathy, an understanding that extreme wealth is unworthy aspiration, that those underpaid workers in the NHS, at Royal Mail, drivers and cyclists delivering food and other goods (thank-you to the cyclist who brought my birthday flowers), street cleaners, refuse collectors, shop workers, are more important to us in our everyday lives than hedge fund managers, stockbrokers, influencers and A-Listers. We saw the applause for workers on nighttime balconies in Barcelona and were inspired to do something similar. The first time I went outside to call my thanks for the NHS and key workers, I was wearing a duffel coat and gloves, neighbours who didn’t know what was happening opened their windows in curiosity and then joined in. Even senior politicians who voted down a pay increase and then cheered were filmed clapping on their doorsteps. Pictures of rainbows appeared in windows, a glorious display of fake flowers declaring love for the NHS was installed outside Tommy’s. Gradually people realised that bikes would give them more freedom for their allowed exercise time. The roads filled with confident and dangerous cyclists who I look at with extreme jealousy. I do cycle, but the legacy of a badly broken wrist six years ago when a car drove across my path has made me a wimpy cyclist. Probably the lockdown cycling memory that will stay with me is the few hundred yards I cycled along the New Kent Road, just me and a few buses. Continue reading

The Coronavirus Diaries, 3rd May 2020

Sunday and quiet. I read the Railway Children. I have seen the film countless times, and loved the stage adaptation which I saw at Waterloo Station some years ago, but I don’t think I have ever read the book before. I enjoyed it, though the sexism was a bit much. A lot much in fact. It made me start thinking about how we are divided and ruled in so many silly ways. Pitching girls against boys, women against men, calling it the battle of the sexes; are you a cat person or a dog person? Both. More war analogies. Currently we are being encouraged by some to divide along other lines – ease lockdown soon, keep it in place; blame the Chinese, the scientists; blame is very much a tactic used in the divide and rule handbook. It seldom achieves anything other than mistrust and anger. We point fingers, squabble and fight among ourselves, while the people who run things in governments, in banking, carry on in some stratosphere most of us never see.

I think it says quite a lot about my concentration that the only book that has held my attention for longer than an hour is one written for children. This morning I came across a tweet by the Reader Organisation. Those of you who have followed this blog for years will now I am a fan. I deeply regret that it no longer holds annual conferences in London. Anyway, the organisation is tweeting a video each day of one member of staff reading a poem. Here’s the link. You are invited to recite the poem aloud yourself and give feedback. I read it aloud and felt quite emotional.
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