I have to admit to suffering from a bout of blog-doubt (a version of self-doubt).  Writing about my relatively cosy  existence in self-isolation doesn’t seem quite right when so many people are suffering real hardship.  I see that the Japanese prime minister has attracted widespread derision by unwisely posting a video of himself  in self-isolation lounging on a sofa with his dog, drinking tea and reading a book (sounds like multi-tasking to me, or perhaps the dog was reading the book?).  Anyway, I’m not going to make the mistake of showing you a video, but it occurs to me that even writing about my trivial activities in self-isolation risks inviting derision (though could a readership of one, even if outraged, count as  ‘widespread’?).

There are so many people to feel sorry for: people cooped up in high rise flats, people suffering domestic abuse, people suffering bereavements, young people with their education halted and their career prospects blighted.  I have grandchildren in the latter category (but not yet in the first three!). When the lockdown is lifted, presumably in planned phases, I’m assuming us oldies will have to remain under house arrest for the foreseeable  future.  Perhaps the answer is never to let us out again?  A pity because, even though I know I’m doing my bit by hiding away, it doesn’t feel right not to be volunteering to ‘step up to the plate’.  I’d happily work on a farm rescuing vegetables that will otherwise go to waste.  It probably wouldn’t do my back any good, but I’d give it a go.  Mind you, my planks have progressed from  22 to 90 seconds so I might, just might, surprise people (wishful thinking was always one of my strong points).

Watching the daily press briefing has become one of our rituals.  I feel sorry for ministers (something of a novelty) who stand there over-promising and under- delivering.  It must be infuriating to announce that there is plenty of PPE to meet demand only to be told by those on the front line that there isn’t.  Still, it was ever thus:  it is impossible for managers, particularly senior managers at the top of large organisations, to know what’s really going on.  Control is illusionary.  It reminds me of the old sea captain who, feeling spare, used to announce on the ship’s tannoy, ‘Now hear this/now hear this/this is your captain speaking/this is your captain speaking/that is all/that is all’.

So what excitements have I to report?   I’ve given myself permission to read during the day.  A major accomplishment!  Each afternoon I read some John Betjeman poems (Philip Larkin next) and whatever book I have on the go (Revelation by C J Sansom).  I have also been painting watercolours of spring flowers − pansies and primroses yesterday.  Wonderful escapism and it means I can send people virtual flowers by attaching them to emails.

I’ve survived a scam, an email supposedly from BT telling me I must reactivate my account immediately or be struck off .  Asking for my bank details was the real give-away (or it certainly would have been a give-away if I’d fallen for the scam).  I phoned the BT help line, not for one moment thinking anyone would answer, and within three rings there was  a helpful lady called Teresa reassuring me that BT would never, ever, ask for my account number or sort code.  Phew!

I’ve run out of Shredded Wheat  and been forced to have things called Oatbix for breakfast.  I can’t imagine how this product was ever allowed to reach the marketplace.  It is absolutely tasteless and, even worse, as soon as you add milk, even a tiny puddle of milk, it turns into an cloggy brown mush.  My wife’s reassurances that oats are good for me falls on deaf ears.

In this morning’s paper I read about a scoring system that might be used to decide whether someone qualifies for intensive care.  Apparently, on a scale of 1 – 10, if you score 8 points you are doomed.  You automatically get  4 points for being  over 71 years of age, then another  3 more points for ‘likely frailty’ (damned cheek!).  Throw in something like high blood pressure and that’s it.  I might as well say my goodbyes right now.


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