Coronavirus diary

This is Francis's diary, most recent entry first, written while under coronavirus restrictions for the over-70s. It is a rudimentary blog, but if you want to comment on anything you can't do it here; send me an email.

Day 17 4/4/20
There has been a scary lack of leadership talent in all our political parties. In recent years, the only leader for whom I felt any personal respect was Sturgeon, though I am not particulaly an SNP supporter. But now we have Starmer. I have met him and heard him speak. He seemed to me to possess that quality so spectacularly lacking in Corbyn, Johnson, May and Swinson: common sense.

Day 16 3/4/20
Government "thinking" in February:
"We don't need investment in breathing machines,
Nor in test kits, in masks, in research for vaccines.
This problem's Chinese, and it won't travel west,
So let's just cross our fingers and hope for the best."

Day 15 1/4/20
As we enter week three of our isolation, I am still not clear just how vulnerable we are. We are well into our 70s, but have no lung-affecting "underlying health conditions". All our shopping is done by kind friends and neighbours, and we do go out for a walk once a day. We give people a wide berth when we pass in the street. Are we being over- or under-cautious? Government advice continues to be unclear, and who trusts the government? At least the police have made it clear that as far as they are concerned it's OK to drive to where you want to take your walk.

Day 14 31/3/20
I have been wondering what the upshot of this crisis will be. Things certainly won’t be the same. After WW II public sentiment swung to the left. Could this happen again, now that the disastrous results of the chronic underfunding of the NHS and other public services have been brought into such sharp focus?

Day 13 30/3/20
Yeaterday we ordered a consignment of frozen fish from Marrfish. It came today! I recommend them. If you want a lot of fish, that is. On the other hand, the local dairy that claimed to be delivering milk and many other products, has run out of, er, milk. But we can get that from the local filling station. So, be inventive, if you can't find what you want.

Day 12 29/3/20
Another Sunday, when I rested from computer work. In any case, the clock-jump always hits my body-rhythms hard. Waitrose emailed to offer us, as over-70 regular customers, one of their 400 newly released delivery slots. Four minutes later we found we were too late; all gone. But what we have found are some lesser known food outlets who are responding to the new situation by introducing deliveries, and we actually booked one, even though we have to wait a week!

Day 11 28/3/20
Today I saw a 100-yard queue of self-distancers waiting their turn to enter Waitrose, in the chilly wind. And yet within short walking distance we have half a dozen well stocked convenience stores with no queues. OK, not so strong on the fresh meat, fish or bread, but you could get most of what you need to keep alive.

Day 10 27/3/20
A correspondent suggested that we should not have made our car trip yesterday, on the way to our exercise walk. Government instructions are silent as to whether this is permissible. A police spokesman has condemned such trips as an unnecessary journey, but one from a different force pointed out that in a car you are less likely to be a danger to yourself and others than walking along the street. Mixed messages, as we have come to expect from this irresolute government.

Day 9 26/3/20
We are apparently allowed one exercise excursion per day. Today we drove to Theydon Garnon church for a short walk and rest in the sun. It was deserted and peaceful, apart from the distant M11 traffic. So in theory I shouldn't now go out again for a second walk, but who's checking?

Day 8 25/3/20
The second of our twelve weeks starts, and we are doing pretty well. The sunny weather helps me to keep my resolution to remain cheerful. I walked down to Highams Park for my daily exercise, and saw a woman with two dogs, that had been taught to pick up litter and put it in a nearby bin. It took one of them five attempts to get a discarded bag into the fairly narrow slot. I gave them a round of applause.

Day 7 24/3/20
A psychiatrist on Sky TV gave advice on keeping sane while self-isolating.

  • Create daily and weekly routines;
  • Give yourself goals;
  • Get out when you can;
  • Expect wobbles;
  • Be kind.
We think we had already worked all that out for ourselves! Gratifying.

Day 6 23/3/20
The PM has advised people like us to have our supplies delivered. We discovered today that our three local stores, Waitrose, Sainsburys and M & S, are all refusing to accept new delivery customers, as is Ocado. What a nincompoop that man is! At present we are dependent on friends and neighbours for supplies.

Day 5 22/3/20
We have decided to keep Sunday as different from other days as possible, just to give our lives some structure. I didn't turn on my computer; Judith attended an online Quaker meeting; we both went out for lengthy excursions, and we had a celebratory Indian takeaway.

Day 4 21/3/20
Judith drove to part of Epping Forest today, and said she had never seen so many parked cars and so many people of all ages in all the years (49) that we have lived here. Why? Where else is there to go now, on a sunny day?

Day 3 20/3/20
I've seen both selfish- and selflessness in S. Woodford today. Selfish are the shelf strippers; selfless are the volunteers of "Triangle support" (we live in the Church End triangle.) They are folks who have organised themselves into a support team for people like us who are heeding the request for over 70s to stay at home. Shopping, advice, and companionship are available on WhatsApp. I hope we all know how to use that. And fortunately we have other friends lining up to do shopping for us as well.

Day 2 19/3/20
The 12 week house arrest period hasn't officially begun yet, but Judith and I are taking no chances. I am relieved to find that we may go out for exercise, so long as we don't interact with anyone. I intend to spend my 12 weeks as follows:

  • Go for a walk each day.
  • Study Japanese for an hour; as much as my brain can take.
  • Learn to use KGS, and play some go on line for the first time in my life.
  • Declutter the house.
  • Check and revise where necessary all my music files. There are thousands of them.

I've started on three of these.

Day 1 18/3/20
Home from the go tournament in Portree, which looks like being the last for some time. Came home pretty tired, and with a slight cold; no, not CV, but other viruses are available. I caught up with emails in the morning, then watched bad TV programmes for the rest of the day.