I’m moving this to Thursdays as I do want to cover other things on my Friday posts and I can see that this isn’t everyone’s interest. I think it’s worth carrying on with though. It reminds us of things like the wild burst of volunteering and community spirit when it first started. (It lasted a while but not as long as covid.) And then there were the random shortages of particular foods. Not enough to create real problems, but often unnerving.

Anyway, here we go:

Saturday 21 March 2020 (spare room, day 6 out of 7)

Yesterday, I rang D, who was enjoying her garden. “I’ve put my phone number through the door of everyone in the street, offering to buy food for them.” I mentioned my desire to keep working, with the support of colleagues and a team – though [my work on] traffic law doesn’t seem a priority right now. “Are you kidding?”, she said. “When we are out of this, we are going to have to do things differently. Stop destroying the air and the planet.” Felt quite buoyed.

D lectured me on coronavirus symptoms and how they came back. Then on cue I felt tired and wan. Went back to bed where I watched Scott and Bailey. By the time it was over I was feeling feverish. I buried under the bed clothes and tried to cook the sickness out of my body, willing the viruses to die.

This morning I feel better but not entirely well. Thermometer says 99.4. Dozed – ate breakfast in bed – and then remembered I was meant to be participating in a zoom call for J’s birthday. I found a burst of energy to put on a cow onesie and point the camera away from the worst of the room. So two firsts in two days – skype and zoom – though our singing of Happy Birthday was truly appalling. Low bandwidth made us go slower and slower, with increasing divergence of key.

I have tried not to listen to too much news – though I switched the radio on at 5pm to hear what is closing. Schools, bars, theatres, gyms, cafes all closed on Friday.

Sunday 22 March 2020

It’s Mother’s Day and I’m looking at a huge bunch of flowers. Obviously, some of the world is working  – enough to bring me cut flowers across borders.

It’s up and down. Yesterday at 5pm, after making half-hearted attempts to run up and down stairs, I lay in bed and let it all wash over me. By the time Tom raised me at 7pm I was neither asleep nor awake, but floating in some limbo land. So what is it? The illness? An appropriate emotional response to everything that has closed? Or lack of willpower? Enjoyed a surprisingly normal meal of spinach, noodle and egg and the last piece of fruit in the house.

This morning, though, I jumped out of bed with determination, armed with a to do list. Which basically said ring people. I phoned Mike, and we talked about creating a new, better world when all this is over. “Dolphins have been seen in Venice canals” he said. Turns out that is fake (pity) but the canals will get cleaner.

I phoned G, in Northern Ireland, who was very upbeat and positive. We talked about the bombs she had defused, including a gang related death threat. “But we don’t expect anything terrorism related. Looks like the IRA are working from home and self-isolating like everyone else.”

I phoned M, whose main worry was that her son’s business had collapsed. He and his wife had set up a company which paid them both a really low salary, with most of the money in dividends. So basically, their only support is 80% of bugger all.

Finally, I rang A: “I seem to be the person least affected by all this. I just potter along like I always have”.

Tuesday 24 March 2020

Yesterday I emerged from 7 days quarantine in the spare bedroom to enjoy the whole house, wandering from room to room. Got dressed and prepared for the adventure of the day – buying food. Tom gave me a long and precise list – two pints semi-skimmed milk, rice cakes etc.

I suggested that I wasn’t wholly better, and could still be infectious. My first symptom had been itchy eyes. Now the itching was back, suggesting cross-infection.

Tom was cross. “All we can do is follow Government advice” he said. “The Government says you are fine to go out and I’m not. If we don’t just follow the rules, I don’t know how to cope.”

And we did need food, and I did want to go out. So I walked to the Co-op, through the bracing spring sunshine, past camellias and budding willows, stepping into garden paths whenever I had to pass someone.

The Co-op was a shock. The fruit and veg aisles were empty, except for one bag of pre-prepared stir fry veg. I bought it, along with a birthday cake. But no milk, yogurt or standard bread. I waived a contactless card at the screen and got out. When I got home. I took time to recover, from what seemed like the end of capitalism. Those empty shelves had rattled me.

After a reviving cup of coffee, I had recovered sufficiently to attempt Shopping Take 2. I queued outside the greengrocers, and found a veritable cornucopia (bananas, oranges, kiwis, sweet potatoes, leeks). I bought them all, attempting with only limited success to pick them out with the tips of my gloved hand, rather than rifling around in the bags.  “Have you been OK?” the owner’s son asked. I hesitated, “I’ve been laid up with this bug everyone is talking about” is what I didn’t say. Instead, I muttered, something – “fine” I think.  I didn’t want to be the unclean leper polluting his shop.

Tesco Express also fared better than the Co-op. I got milk, yogurt and even a small Hovis. Hurray! We can feed ourselves for another week.

When I got back, I busied myself tidying the spare room and unpacked the ski clothes (it was a different world). I even cleaned up the debris on my dressing table. When I phoned Mike, he was also sorting through junk. “If you are looking at the zombie apocalypse and you realise it will never be useful, it’s time to throw it away”.

I cooked the stir fry (actually quite nice) and crashed. I filled up two hot water bottles and curled around then, to hear Boris tell us we should stay in-doors. Fell into a deep and dreamless sleep.

This morning I’m looking at an empty Marble Hill Park, with a sign on the gate. Closed. With the park, I thought I would be OK. Right now, I’m not feeling so good.

Last week Mike agreed to come over, so we could take [his dog] Morley for a walk in the park. We agreed yesterday that maybe he shouldn’t. But it is one thing to agree not to see him – quite another to be forbidden from doing anything as normal as going for a walk in the park with my son.

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