No man is an island,
entire of itself;
every man is a piece of the continent,
a part of the main.
Excerpt from Meditation XVII of Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions by John Donne
When I set up this blog, I thought I’d be rattling them off at the rate of a least one a day. That’s not been the case, to say the least. It’s not by design, but I believe, in part, because I also write for a living.
During working hours I turn out blogs and articles for lawyers, web pages, content for legal news outlets and legal PR for the regional press.
There’s usually a set structure to that. By that, I mean that I have a steer from my clients on the topic I’ll be writing about and with my long term clients, we work to a plan which dictates what needs to be written.
My own personal blog, on the other hand, is a blank piece of paper, which gives me options. Too many options. Of course, I could write about my beloved Manchester City or Lancashire CCC, or about my love of running, my dogs or family (they’d love that -not). Then again I can bleat on about my recovery from alcoholism as it stands today. For now, though, I’ve written enough on that aspect of my life.
So, left to my own free will, I’ve found it a tad difficult to get writing.
I do wonder whether some of this is partly down to Covid19 and the lockdown. I’ve been trying to go through in my head how the past 104 days have affected me generally and the family too, for that matter. However, I can only speak for myself, not them.
Here are some of the positives
Covid19 scared the pants off me health-wise, when the pandemic first hit, as nothing before has ever done. The first thing it did was make me put out my last cigarette on the 16th March. I have not touched one since. I stopped, by using a patch for one day and since then, nothing. Completely smoke and smoking-substitute free.
I’ve always had a strange relationship with smoking. I’d never smoked a cigarette in my life until I was 39. Then sometime in 1998, after a bad bought of alcoholic bingeing, I was waiting to be carted off to the Priory in Chelmsford. Without a drink, I was pacing around like a caged lion, withdrawing badly and so I took one of VW’s menthol cigarettes. It took the ‘edge off’ sufficiently well that I took up smoking.
Over the following 20 years, I turned into an on and off smoker. I was not habitually, that heavy a one. It was a strange relationship. I ran 5 marathons in 2003/2004 and the first thing I’d do after finishing each one was to light up!
However, it was a bugbear and annoyed me, as much as anything else. Having managed to stay off the booze for now for 8 1/2 years, it bugged me that I couldn’t put down the fags. Well, Covid19 sorted it. Cancer amongst smokers is rampant, but the threat of getting that didn’t make me stop. Enter Covid19 and I threw away my tobacco in a heartbeat.
For me, this whole pandemic lockdown, wearing masks, not taking chances and abiding by the rules and guidance, as pathetic as it has been from our incompetent government, have all been down to a real fear of getting Coronavirus. I’m 60, get mild asthma and hay fever, so have felt pretty sure that I’d struggle if I caught the virus.
This fear was also the driving force behind me ramping up the exercise. When Bojo the Clown advised that we could do one hour a day’s exercise, I took him literally. As a counterbalance to the possibility of COVID striking, I took the view that if I’m as fit as I can be, then I’m giving myself a fighting chance.
I took Johnson’s advice and ran every day. I made a point of running for 58/59 minutes (all a bit pointless as I took the dogs out separately too, on the basis that that was their exercise, not mine!)
Personal fitness then, has been good so far and God willing, may that continue.
Other good things?
Still sober (always the number one priority).
Family not tearing each other’s hair out. Some dodgy moments on that score, but hey, show me a family that won’t have had them.
I’ve been able to work – thank you, my super clients. A new contract that was about to start has been put on hold, but I can’t complain. I do love what I do and if ever an occupation was made for lockdown life, writing for a living, is it.
Dogs have never been fitter.
Life has become simpler in many ways.
Using one bar of the petrol tank’s worth of petrol in 3 months.
I’ve picked up some books I’d probably never have otherwise had to time to read, such as the works of some of the authors considered ‘the angry young men’ of the 50s and 60s (Barstow, Braine, Sillitoe, Waterhouse et al).
…and the negatives?
Most of the negatives have come from outside the home. Turning on the news is necessary to stay informed, but there has been little comfort from any of it.
I couldn’t write an article about COVID without acknowledging the tragic deaths that this pandemic has caused. At the time of writing the UK death toll is just over 44,000 officially but thought to be more realistically around 60,000. It’s over half a million worldwide.
It’s a devastating toll and made all the more so by the government’s handling of the crisis, which has been appalling. I know, I know. It’s a unique set of circumstances that they have faced. What’s the word, unparalleled?
But please, none of this:
‘they’ve done their best, though…”
That’s not good enough. They are the government, not a group of boy scouts doing a charity event.
Hearing about the amazing work of the NHS and other frontline workers has been something of a counterbalance to the misdoings of our so-called leaders. I’m sure that they would prefer a few more quid in their pay packets though, rather than having co-ordinated hand-clapping from Tory politicians and the hypocritical members of the public who voted for the Tories at the last election!
Having the worse government in my lifetime in power at any time was going to be a disaster. Having them in at a time of true national crisis is catastrophic. Led by Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, they are truly the most incompetent, awful bunch of politicians we could ever have had the misfortune of being ‘governed’ by, at any time. In my opinion.
Their lack of ability is self-evident with almost every false step that they make. What else could we really expect, from a Tory party that won the last election on the basis of a right-wing, Brexit driven agenda that has no more substance to it than ensuring that we leave Europe without striking a deal to facilitate our exit?
After dithering, lies, U-turns, false moves from the outset, double standards (witness the Cummings and Jenrick affairs in particular), we are now seeing them ease lockdown to the point of it becoming non-existent. Desperate, it seems, to get to the stage that other countries that locked down hard and before we did are at, they seem to be throwing any pretence of listening to the advice of experts, telling them to slow down, out of the window.
Yesterday saw pubs, cafe’s and hairdressers opening up. This all at the same time as Leicester has had to go back into full lockdown.
I know that people in business all over the country are desperate to get back to work. I get that and my views might sound particularly rich from someone who has still had some work to do. However, I can’t help but think that there is a determination to get things moving too quickly, and at any cost.
I can’t get away from the feeling that this is going to end up with a second wave of coronavirus infections or even an overall spike across the whole of the country. Don’t just take my word for it. I’m only taking my lead from England’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Jenny Harries.
If that happens we are in a whole heap more trouble than we already are and have already gone through. Don’t worry though, because Brexit is just around the corner.
In my own bubble, with my family in our Cottage in rural Essex/Herts ( we really are right on the border) all is fine, in day to day respects. In fact more than fine.
As John Donne famously said, though; ‘No man is an Island.’ We are affected by what is going on in the rest of the country, indeed the world. We feel ‘another man’s death.’
How do I feel? That all I can do is live each day as it comes. Do my work, enjoy my free time reading, running, being with the family and staying fit and well.
Hovering over all this though is a constant sense of unease. The government would have us believe that we are off and running again. Maybe they are right, I personally doubt it, but maybe they are right. Perhaps we are off and running and the virus won’t return.
Even then though, where will we be running to? A ‘No Deal Brexit’ on the back of a humongous recession, with the spaffing buffoon and his chums running the show? No reason to be alarmed. No, none at all!