At the end of last week the government announced that the ‘lockdown’ here in most of the UK would be extended by another 3 weeks. There has been much pressure on ministers to start to talk about how the country should emerge from this, which sectors might be allowed to open first, but they resolutely refuse to even discuss it, on the grounds that it will dilute the message and the urgency to stay at home etc.
Perhaps it is not that good for my mental health but I have been reading about the 1918 so-called Spanish flu that killed what in today’s world population would be about 300 million people. The story and some old photographs are chillingly familiar – everyone in masks and the proposition that governments delayed action by initially refusing to name it and to discuss what was happening so shortly after the end of world war 1. The first hand tales of horror and shock at the speed of death and its sheer scale remain powerful and chilling. Also that flu, and others, had 2 or sometimes 3 waves before they died away.
So London is deserted – apart from a steady stream of joggers by the river which remains, in the sunny days at least, very pleasant, if odd, to walk by. Occassionally it has felt creepy but mostly it is just odd. Going shopping is constantly changing. It took maybe two weeks for everywhere – supermarkets and now Borough Market – to introduce social distancing with queues 10 feet apart and restricted numbers shopping. Once inside though it is hard to avoid getting closer and some people don’t appear to care. People are not relaxed enough yet to engage in banter in these stretched out queues but I am hoping that it will come. There used to be empty shelves – itself provoking anxiety – but now stocks have returned and my anxiety has gone down a little. Work is via Skype or Zoom and so is contact with our children as well as meditation and teaching from the Jamyang centre down near Elephant and Castle. In fact I do more of all of this now that it involves almost zero effort – not getting on my bicycle – and I am so at home with the computer.
We sit in the garden when it is sunny and warm, we garden quite a bit (Spring has come to the garden despite the virus), and cycle on the godsend exercise cycle (45 minutes) and lift some weights throughout the day. Shopping takes an age because of all the cleaning afterwards. So the days are full.
I am constantly wondering about the summer and my travel plans. The Youtube motorcycle travellers that I follow have one by one managed to scramble home and are wondering about how they will keep the views up along with their income, I presume.
At work two members of staff have died along with one student mental health nurse. My close colleague who had the virus now has pnuemonia – and she has also lost her mother. Sad times.