Tuesday 17 March 2020

Brave new world

What strange times we live in. I walked into a petrol station yesterday to fill up my car and got terribly excited when I noticed multiple packs of loo roll in the aisle. A rare sight these days. In our household, a shortage had been looming after several visits to my local supermarket last week proved fruitless. I had to resist the urge to buy up more than my fair share.

Even the dog's worried about food shortages 
- he raided a food bin this morning 
Our days are weighted with an underlying sense of dread as we wait for the coronavirus to unleash its full force on our shores. Yesterday's restrictions on social contact - recommended by the prime minister and his advisors - will change our lives in immeasurable ways. For me, the consequences of these restrictions are only just sinking in. Can I still meet a friend for coffee? No, not really. Will book club get cancelled? Yes. And what about Pilates? 

Over the coming weeks, everything we decide to do will be a tussle of conscience - controlling self-interest and protecting the population at large. For parents, these decisions are complicated by still having children at school - an odd halfway house where 'social contact' becomes unavoidable. 

I'm coming to terms with not seeing my parents or mother-in-law for the foreseeable future and I'm mulling ideas to enliven our mutual isolation - video calling, online games, piano concerts performed by my daughter over Skype, perhaps. Beyond my own bubble, so many people are bound to suffer as livelihoods stutter and home becomes a lonely place. 

It feels like uncharted territory for our society. Will social bonds break down as we fight each other for every last loo roll, or will we be singing opera from our windows? I hope we'll pull together to support the vulnerable members of our communities and that we'll use technology to maintain interactions with family and friends. Already, there are Coronavirus support groups mushrooming on Facebook. It might even be an entrepreneurial opportunity for some of us - our beleaguered economy could certainly do with some blue-sky thinking. 

On the bright side...

Yesterday, I drove my son to an orthodontist appointment before having lunch with friends. From my car, I watched everyone go about their business in the spring sunshine. There seemed to be a weird disconnect between what was going on in the news and our mundane routines. As each day slips by, I expect those different realities will slowly start to converge.

I'm trying hard to accentuate the positive. Last night I sat and listened to my daughter practising for her piano exam, letting the tinkling notes wash over me. I hugged both kids before they went to bed. I've also tried to order my thoughts by writing this post. Events are moving so fast, I feel dizzy.

In practical terms, I'm concentrating on bolstering my family's health. The weapons in my arsenal are plenty of sunshine, regular bedtimes, lots of fruit and veg, kefir, nuts, seeds, exercise and a few teaspoons of elderberry syrup (a tip from naturopath Louisa Hallowes). When Storm Covid-19 hits, I'm hoping we'll be in good shape.

And, if we do end up in full isolation at home, we might even enjoy a bit of family time... when the endless games of cards loose their appeal, I'll finish painting the study or sorting out our archive of family photos. It might even be fun - until the loo roll runs out 😬! Stay well everyone and thanks for reading. 

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