I have decided to revert to blog writing during this uncertain period of lockdown, due to the corona virus which is sweeping the world. Writing is a form of therapy for me, I think, and I intend to merely jot down some musings as they occur to me, not to comment on the wider picture: that information is available on every news website.
So now we are coming to the end of the first week of lockdown, and what has changed, and how do I feel? I am normally a very restless person, forever gallivanting off somewhere, planning the next holiday, visiting friends and family, doing all the exciting activities which retired people do. This has all come screeching to a halt. And I make no bones about it, I resent it enormously, I feel caged in. Just like everyone else. However, I do have the advantage of having a very large garden, and a husband and a cat to keep me company. I appreciate that this puts me ahead of the game on many counts. I am not one of the 1.5 million people who are totally confined to barracks either. I will now attempt to describe my new “normal” day. Which will sound fearfully familiar to many.
I have been waking around 6am, although the clock change may affect that. I get up, check my emails and WhatsApp messages: there are many of these and it is remarkable how many old friends have appeared out of the woodwork. This is just delightful and I am so grateful to everyone who has written. I have heard from friends in Germany, Austria, France, Kenya, all of course describing identical fears and frustrations. But because this is a universal plight, perhaps this dilutes the fractiousness a shade? And I now have the opportunity to reply to everyone. The one commodity which we all normally lament the lack of, is time. And now we all have oodles of it. I am reminded of the lines in Shakespeare’s Richard II, which I studied for AL English many moons ago:
“I wasted time, and now doth time waste me”
He says this as he is languishing as a prisoner in Berkeley Castle. We are now enduring a type of imprisonment and we will all find our own way of coping with this.
After breakfast I often make some phone calls, not that there is a lot of news, but just to say hi. I am particularly conscious that some friends live alone, and chatting to someone is a great lifeline. Video calls are of course amazing, and many people have become technical whizzkids, downloading conference call software, quizzes and the like. I am actually beginning to feel somewhat inundated with fitness apps, ho ho video clips, jokes, cartoons and the like. What is working wonderfully well are local community message boards. Our road has one, and we compare notes on day-to-day necessities and there are offers of help. This is one of many positive things which will come out of this hideous experience. Also groups of friends have set up communal communication platforms, and that too is magnificent.
I have been spending a great deal of time in the garden, which is again a positive from many points of view. A lot of fresh air and exercise, and I am launching war on the ground elder which covers the vegetable patch. Yesterday I began to see ground elder as an analogy for the virus; it is always there, often hidden from view, with nasty sinister roots threatening to strangle some plants, and although I may eradicate a large amount of it, it will never totally be gone. I read yesterday that the Tudors would eat the leaves as a salad, but I have not yet got that desperate. Nettle soup may yet beckon. I am not the world’s most talented or enthusiastic gardener, but I am beginning to enjoy more and more the time I spend out there. What I have still to absorb, is that none of it needs to be completed by the end of the day, or week, or even the end of the month. This could actually lead to a different problem: endless procrastination. A friend wrote recently that it took her 3 days to clean the cooker: one day for the oven, one for the grill, one for the hob. Interspersed with cups of coffee in the garden and the obligatory daily walk. Wonderful.
Then I am making a serious attempt to do 10,000 steps for my daily walk. Again I am very lucky to have green open spaces very near to where I live. I can walk up the road and see horses in their field. The cherry blossom is in bloom and spectacularly beautiful. Another positive is the lack of road traffic and planes overhead. I can hear the birds chirping and see them flying around carrying twigs to build their nests. I find the continuity of the natural world tremendously consoling. The old horse neither knows nor cares about a world crisis: all he wants is a handful of hay. Blissful.
I feel I should make more effort to do my Pilates exercises. I have enjoyed my classes and can remember many of the moves. I find it a great stress buster and increasingly a level of fitness is going to be crucial. There is a great possibility that we will gain a whole new set of problems: obesity, alcoholism, idleness. One of the drills is standing on one leg, extending the leg, and rotating the foot. Then the other leg. Try it, it’s harder than it sounds. Especially when clutching a glass of wine waiting for the dinner to cook!!
What do I miss? The same as everyone else: the people. Hopefully we will learn what is important to us and what parts of our life we can let go. I will attempt to write something every day. It may be very trivial but hey ho, significant events are going to harder to come by.