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THE COVIDIARIES - DAY 27 - 12th April 2020


“I have just had a splendid idea,” came the cry

This was not a good portend for the future. In this household, “Splendid ideas” always mean total disruption to routine and invariably hard work – on my part.

“I think it would be a splendid idea if the choir had some feedback from someone else”.

“But they are, from Shona and Jane, and now Hayley and Estelle”

“No, I mean a man”

“Oh, do you really think so?

“ Yes, and as I started it, I think you should write a contribution”

“ But there are lots of men who .......”

“Right, that’s settled then, you can do Sunday”

“Someday? Ok, I’ll do it someday”

“ No, SUNDAY, this Sunday “

“Yes, dear”

So here, ladies, I am, and may I start by hoping that you are having as best an Easter Sunday as is possible.

I have followed the diary from its inception, marvelling at how you have and are, coping during this incredibly challenging period in all of our lives. I am eternally grateful for the choir; it is a solid support outside this home upon which Sarah can rely for cheering up and contact with people other than her family. As one who has, up to now, avoided Facebook , she reads your posts avidly. Indeed it was these, in the early stages, that prompted her to start this diary as a lasting reminder and plaudit of how the choir coped. As a choir you are the epitome of the cause of its creation, supporting each other during hard times. But no-one could ever have imagined the scale and awfulness that would require such a prolonged effort, made the more so by the need to do so remotely. Your Zoom rehearsals are a life line, thank you Rachel and everyone who set it up and takes part.

For myself, I am frustrated, not so much at the curtailment of movement but by the fact that, as a 70 year old with high blood pressure I fall into the vulnerable category. I am fit, mobile and healthy and feel that I should be out helping deliver prescriptions, food or anything else others less fortunate than I, need. But I, like a bird with a broken wing, am grounded. Rotary Zoom meetings are not a patch on Z-Rehers.

Random thoughts:

Are we as good a nation of people now than in 1939, or are we more self centred? Would our ancestors have ignored the then government’s advice to stay at home and not travel unless essential? Or would the same sort of people who ignored it now have ignored it then? I wonder?

Why did the Mayor of London have to ask London football clubs to offer their medical staff and other facilities to assist in overcoming this virus?

I was saddened to read that celebrities are in a corona crisis. Suddenly they are no longer at the forefront of the media, no longer important, and, apparently, it is hurting, so they are trying ways of mitigation to re-attract our attention. But as Polly Vernon in The Times writes: “Do we give a damn how these pampered, privileged, heartbreakingly pretty remnants of our decadent, pre-corona past, are responding to the greatest trauma of our lifetimes?...Will we find our heroes and icons elsewhere in society; carry on applauding those actual pillars of society who we have only, just now, come to see clearly?”

Another snippet on the same theme; do you remember that wonderful actress and singer, Marlene Dietrich? Having spent most of WW2 entertaining Allied troops, she accompanied General Patton into Germany. When asked why she had put herself into danger within a few kilometres of German troops, she replied “aus anstand” (out of decency). She went on to say, ”My war work was the only worthwhile thing I have ever done.”

The moral being, whilst this is continuing, be a Dietrich not a Madonna.

Hurrah for the Chelsea Pensioners at the Royal Hospital! When informed of the impending lockdown, they formed an Escape Committee!

Son and daughter-in-law in Okehampton report that there are bouncers at Waitrose taking things very seriously and giving little old ladies a really hard time. Images of 90 year olds wielding umbrellas and threatening people with hat pins. Why shop at Waitrose? You can get a better quality COVID-19 I am told.

Jeremy Clarkson has been roped into delivering lambs (live ones) on his farm. Having to assist in one particularly difficult birth he donned what he calls a “green James Herriot condom and went inside for a furtle”. No lamb, so the shepherdess told him to go in further. So further in he went, past his elbow. Still nothing even remotely resembling a lamb. He looked at the sheep and “could tell from her cross-eyed expression that something was amiss. It was.......I was biceps-deep in her arse”. Best sticking to things mechanical, Jezzer.

So to you.

I have thoroughly enjoyed your funny stories, pictures and poems. The one by Matt Kelly was particularly inspiring. I think that we should include remembrance of those NHS personnel who sadly die in the course of this duty in all Remembrance Day activities in future. It is, after all, a war.

Home educating rears its head. Will you be writing reports on your lovely little home pupils? If so here are some words of wisdom to help you:

“ He does visit the well of knowledge but needs to go more often and with a bigger bucket”

“‘Jilly has set herself an extremely low standard, which she has failed to maintain’  – (Jilly Cooper, author)

“He must devote less of his time to sport if he wants to be a success. You can’t make a living out of football’  – (Gary Lineker, footballer)

“The improvement in his handwriting has revealed his inability to spell.

And finally there is the one about a young lady had to explain to her concerned parents, which was a reference to her inability to do leapfrogs in PE. “Penelope has an aversion to opening her legs.”

What would you write? Perhaps you could post some one- line “reports” on the choir page?

Crazy columnist Caitlin Moran in The Times relates how difficult it was living in a 3 bedroom council house in Wolverhampton with her parents and 7 siblings. Her parents decided to home school their initial five children, then in the next four years have another three. Her advice, “Get your contraception nailed down now” She suggests that adding another pupil to the class size after a night on the cider is not a good idea.

Sue is doing on-line lessons; I am really looking forward to this, and yes, Sue, I have been practising. Just received the “Sue Trick Lockdown Diary” to complete. What a wonderful idea, thank you.

In an earlier diary Sarah mentioned poetry. Shona writes;

I’m sat reading The Week Junior (just about my level!) and there’s an article about poetry. It’s reminded me about your Haiku challenge! Following on from Katie’s photo collage idea, I’ve been inspired by the words (read completely ‘borrowed’ the words!!) and have come up with this Haiku:

Let’s flatten the curve Let’s protect the NHS Stay safe, stay at home

Who can come up with another Haiku? Or maybe a limerick?

Here is a limerick (not mine, I hasten to add)

There was a young man from Peru

Who couldn’t control when to poo

One fell from his bum

So his father said “Son”

You should have done that in the loo

Katie has started a social media project asking for volunteers to send in a photo hold a word. I am looking forward to seeing the end result.

And now it is lipsynch; Emma suggests you try it. If you were really clever you could all lipsysch the same one piece of your repertoire and see how it looks!!

A couple of ideas to entertain outside:

Outdoor Noughts and Crosses. Use four twigs to form the grid – create two sets of five objects as the noughts and crosses. Perhaps use coloured stones.

Outdoor snakes and ladders. Gather some long sticks and make a grid of 20 squares. Use shorter ones as the snakes and ladders. You/your kids are the counters. Play as normal.

It is often good to end on an optimistic note. So

Oblivious to the suffering and misery being experienced by the entire human race, nature comes alive. It is spring time. Lambs gambol in the fields above the village and young newborn calves totter on spindly legs around their mothers who themselves graze peacefully in the meadows, having been released from their winter lockdown in the byres. Birdsong fills the now-silent air. As we who are in lonely isolation split logs in the garden, a little robin appears and harvests up the grubs that fall from the bark of the long seasoned wood. The pair of Canada Geese arrive for their annual holiday on the neighbour’s pond, calling loudly to each other as they perform a low fly-by over the house. Honey bees, also released from their own lockdown, begin to forage for nectar on the newly blossoming trees. Small shoots appear in the veg patch and, of course, the grass needs cutting. Life goes on and all is well in the natural world.

I leave you with this. Written by Pete Seeger in 1955 and made famous in this country by the folk group Peter, Paul and Mary in 1962, I have changed the wording slightly:

Where have all the flowers gone, long time passing?

Where have all the flowers gone, long time ago?

Where have all the flowers gone.

Gone to young girls, everyone.

When will they ever learn?

When will they ever learn?

Where have all the young girls gone, long time passing?

Where have all the young girls gone, long time ago?

Where have all the young girls gone.

Gone to ladies, everyone.

When will they ever learn?

When will they ever learn?

Where have all the ladies gone, long time passing?

Where have all the ladies gone, long time ago?

Where have all the ladies gone.

Gone to choirs, everyone.

When will they ever learn?

When will they ever learn?

Where have all the choirs gone, long time passing?

Where have all the choirs gone, long time ago?

Where have all the choirs gone.

Singing for people everywhere, .

When will they ever learn?

When will they ever learn?

Where have all the people gone, long time passing?

Where have all the people gone, long time ago?

Where have all the people gone.

Buying loo rolls, everyone.

When will they ever learn?

When will they ever learn?

Where have all the loo rolls gone, long time passing?

Where have all the loo rolls gone, long time ago?

Where have all the loo rolls gone.

Growing flowers, everyone.

When will they ever learn?

When will they ever learn?

If you have got this far, thank you for reading it and please stay safe and healthy, all of you.

Patrick

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