Thursday 12 November

A grand day out! To Ashburnham Place. Well, it was once we got there. There were road works on the A21: the most irritating factor being that as you drove past the forest of cones, there were no workmen to be seen. It was very quiet at Ashburnham as the only visitors at the moment are anglers ( plus spouse). Angling is the most socially distanced pastime you could wish for, so we ticked every box. Except perhaps for not heeding the motorway overhead: Stay Home. Essential Travel Only. As the zillions of cars thundered past, I can only imagine they were doing some essential angling.

It was a beautiful autumn day, and I walked my usual circuit of the Capability Brown lakes. Yesterday we were talking about a recent survey extolling the delights of the open air, but saying that every so often you should pause and admire with awe a particular sight. It can be very simple like a lemony gold leaf, some chestnuts, a pheasant….but pause and absorb. Good for mental and physical health. I found this awe-some.

I think if you look at this fallen log you can see a crocodile/dinosaur figure. The eyes are clear and the horn and the tail. The colour of the leaves are just perfectly autumnal. I am very aware that I am fortunate to have the opportunity and energy to access all these amazing sights. It helps lockdown to pass more rapidly.

Amid all the talk about the number of cases, and vaccines and prevention, I began to think about other preventable diseases. In 2018 there were 228 million cases of malaria worldwide. An estimated 405,00 deaths. Now this is a preventable disease, as all worldwide travellers know. So should we not throw a bit more weight behind this? Yesterday the historian and broadcaster Dan Snow: interesting sense of proportion.

Speaking on Times Radio, he said: “I’ve got an unfashionable take on coronavirus, which is that in the broad sweep of history it won’t be remembered. First of all because it’s not a mass mortality or mass morbidity event at the moment, unlike the Black Death [and] Spanish influenza.”

There have so far been 50.9 million reported cases worldwide, with 1.26 million deaths, according to figures compiled by Johns Hopkins University in Maryland.

It is estimated that the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918-19 infected about 500 million people, with at least 50 million deaths. The Black Death of the mid 14th century is thought to have killed up to 50 million people in Europe alone, 60 per cent of the population by some estimates.

Today’s CD is an odd one: The Epic of Gilgamesh as an opera by Martinu. Sung in Czech and English. A present to me because many of the poems I have performed with the Gold Lyre come from the Gilgamesh story.

2 thoughts on “Thursday 12 November

  1. Dan Snow is right about Malaria, but as most cases are not in the developed world we are not so intetested.
    Perhaps the only reason covid-19 is not yet comparable with the Black Death and Spanish flu is that nanny-states are doing their best to control it and protect nannies et al (not to mention intensive care staff and people with other serious illnesses). As far as Kenya (see a couple of days ago), is concerned, what was the President’s motivation? Is he a Trump and Bolsonaro fan or is the health system unable to cope anyway? Or is the incidence rate so low as a result of a younger population and previous exposure to other viruses that it’s not a serious problem anyway?
    Our covid cases are now up to 23000 new cases since yesterday, with the effects of our semi-lockdown hoped to kick in during the coming week. Tense times, whether we like it or not, as Mutti Merkel waits in the wings. But you seem to be making the very best of a bad job, Jen!!
    Love etc from the Teutonic wastes,
    Alan

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  2. Hi Alan, thank you very much for your comprehensive comment. Yes, two things in Kenya: the health service would not be able to cope, and also you are right, the population is much younger, and mostly not so affected anyway. If you live to 85 you are probably lucky, there are so many other things to carry you off! Life expectancy there is 66. Hope things are not too stressful in Germany. Jen x

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