21/03/2021

Thoughts from the Suffolk coast

Harris G, Suffolk

Although it is still bitterly cold at times and the wintry greyness persists, the garden is starting to come to life and demand a lot of our time. Dodging the rain showers, most days this week I have managed to do some weeding and planting outdoors as well as “work” in the shed and greenhouse (some would call it ‘pottering about’ but it is work to me). Of course - I must add that I have needed my hat and scarf but it has been good to be outside! And one day there was even a little sunshine too (although nothing to write home about)! Spring is here! 

 

Spring gardens offer such optimistic colours and it’s super to see the intense yellows of the daffodils that are now out in great clumps. I have an ancient berberis that is showing its small orange flowers and a very stately (but vicious) mahonia that is still in flower too. The magnolia is budding up, a dark but shy hellebore is in full bloom, so too the ribes - oh and the euphorbia is looking great. In the greenhouse, the broad beans and potatoes are starting to come up and will soon be ready to go outside. I’ve planted the onion sets in the raised beds and the garlic is showing its green shoots. Hopeful signs. Positivity!

harris5.jpg
harris3.jpg
harris2.jpg
harris4.jpg
harris6.jpg

As always - I have tried to avoid the television news but it’s almost impossible not to read or hear about what is happening in the wider world. This week the focus has been the tragic murder of Sarah Everard, but there have also been lots of reports about a recent development in an old murder case at entertainer Michael Barrymore’s home, issues in policing and the behaviour of men in society, and the ongoing saga of (and backlash from) the Harry and Meghan interview. The news casters vary in their approach but there has been such irresponsible reporting of events particularly on the internet - whipping up anger and fear. And there is disillusionment too. 

 

A report on local news one evening showed volunteers delivering food parcels to young families who simply cannot get by. Whatever the reasons for this, I find it shocking that so many are living in terrible poverty - needing charity to survive from day to day. How is this acceptable modern life? Back in 1982, Townsend and Davidson wrote about the cruel and avoidable inequalities in health and society - so has nothing really changed? Have we learned nothing? People are being thanked for the support they are giving to others during the pandemic and quite rightly. But there needs to be more than just thanks and accolades.

 

A friend from the NHS tells me that a much loved colleague died recently. A covid-related death, the deceased was herself a nurse. And so very young. There was emotionally moving video-footage posted on YouTube, showing the hearse passing slowly by her workmates as they stood in line (clapping) outside the hospital where she worked. People have commented that such an all-round lovely person should have a memorial - something lasting for others to see. But what is a fitting memorial? A sculpture? A plaque? What would she and the others who have lost (and continue to lose) their lives in this pandemic want?

 

In the evenings, I have been reading about Dan Cruikshank’s London home and his restoration work. Quite lovely. In the Spitalfields area where his house is located, lots of fine buildings have been demolished - only to be replaced by high-rise office blocks and housing. This has been happening since the 1960s. London’s skyline has changed dramatically - so many ‘sky-scrapers’ and not gentle spires at that! I keep wondering if we will need such buildings in the future. I think about people who live in these apartments and how they are coping - ‘high in the sky’. Fabulous views of course but do we really need to build ever taller towers? What do the inhabitants think of this type of living? Is there a sense of community and togetherness or are we simply stacking people on top of each other like crates or containers at the docks? What will the census tell us about the population trends and what is needed? After the Second World War, there was a huge demand for housing but limited resources - hence many large buildings were converted or divided up to provide homes. Perhaps that is a possibility for the office blocks that currently sit empty? When we begin to emerge from this pandemic, will big commercial enterprises want to strut their stuff in the same executive, corporate venues or will they make more money by letting their staff work from home?

 

Some major changes must surely follow this episode in our human history. Our continuing evolution will undoubtedly involve rethinking working life as well as all manner of social practices. Some friends have told me of their concerns about “returning to normal”. What will be safe? Will face masks continue indefinitely? Will we all be much more wary of crowds and getting close to strangers? Will we all sit at distance from each other in galleries, theatres and cinemas and other ‘social spaces’? Last year, I never imagined that we would still be living like this - in lockdown. I thought it would all be nearly over by now. Naive? Foolish? Too hopeful I guess. Yet it is hope that keeps us going. Hope is sustenance. 

 

Stay safe, well and hopeful x

 

 

I’ve been too long away from your loving,

Too long with my back to the wall,

I've been to some far away places

With nothing to show for it all

 

I've been to their sites and showcases

I've been through their strong city halls

Men with black suits and no faces

And nothing to show for it all

 

I've been too long away from this country

Too long not heeding your call

Now I'm home like some war weary soldier

With nothing to show for it all

 

Lyrics from ‘Nothing to Show’ by Dolores Keane

21/03/2021

From rural New York

Sandy Connors, USA

Yesterday, Saint Patrick’s Day, someone posted a series of early stone labyrinths from Ireland on Instagram with a description ~ not a maze, it has only one path to the center and back out, called universal ~ one line, one path. And it set me to thinking as I wondered about this past year of the pandemic how we all had to walk our own one path regardless of what was ahead ~ a journey through the pandemic and to perhaps some kind of spiritual awareness.

 

At Margaret’s suggestion, I went back to the early postings from a year ago, and in many ways life is much the same, except that I no longer feel quite as threatened having gotten my vaccines along with many other people I know. But it has been such an interesting year and one I will never forget even though nothing very memorable has happened. I have been so fortunate to remain healthy and to be able to live in a lovely safe home, yet know it has been a terrible year for so many many others and feel the weight of sadness for the world.

 

Despite the times of worry and fear which occasionally nibbled at my waking hours and reflections on my inevitable mortality, I loved the simplicity of my days, of enjoying my garden and the little hamlet and savouring all the little details as it was the whole of my world for most of the year ~ no trips to see friends, no museums, or concerts, no meals out, and not that many drives really. I was happy enough and cautious enough to be content staying home. Talking to my family and friends on the internet became a regular thing, and while I miss the physical contact with everyone and am really looking forward to seeing everyone soon, I am prepared to wait a little longer. And of course, there are the dogs, cats and canary! Hardly a life of solitude.

 

Two good projects are in the works on my engraving desk, spring is just around the corner ~ the house is almost still sparkly clean, and all seems well in my world. I couldn’t have imagined more interesting companions to share our experiences with this past year as you, my fellow journalists, to cheer, inspire and encourage, reflect with and sigh now and then... I do hope everyone is feeling hopeful, and as thankful as I am feeling.

21/03/2021

From a very small Island

Michael Johnston, Isle of Wight

Reading Margaret's request for an anniversary entry set me thinking of course, as I'm sure it has other people. So, what are my thoughts on the experience and impact of this past plague year?

 

Truth to tell, the impact on the world and the small part of it that contains me has been so vast that I don't really know where I should begin, so in my usual fashion I'll just take a headlong dive!  

 

I will not try and be objective, but will write of my feelings, because they have led the way. I remember the day lockdown began last March most vividly. It seems impossible now to imagine, but only two days previously I was out with a largish gathering of car club members enjoying a pub Sunday lunch. I could not then have believed what was to happen! On the fateful Tuesday morning it seemed as if life had suddenly reverted to an almost medieval condition. How was anything to continue, and that question pervaded all my thoughts, ranging from getting supplies safely to the most important of all - continuance of personal relationships! I was truly scared, I don't mind admitting, as were most of the rest of the world's human population! There seemed no way forward other than to walk very slowly within the many constraints that had been dropped on us all.

 

My darling best beloved was in her own home and needed to stay with her granddaughter, who lives with her. So, we two, still finding our way through a relatively new relationship, were having to make difficult adjustments. Being honest, I think I may have been the most vulnerable of us, because single life was a relative novelty after the death of my wife Cynthia in 2017 following 50 years of wedlock. Best beloved was to some extent moving back into the lifestyle she had enjoyed for long prior to our getting together. Regardless of that, I think our feelings were mostly of a severe bereavement. Anyway, we seem to have managed things in the end, because we are still together and she remains totally 'best beloved'. Of course, we have been able to reunite, particularly during the walk we started last summer, which we intend to resume soon. For myself, I admit to only feeling wholly secure and comfortable since the second lockdown began - what a paradox! It has taken a long time to become acclimatised to separation and to the certain knowledge that we are together, even though often apart. What a blessing relationships can be for many of us! Ours was so unexpected too.

 

The other big separation has been from my blood family. I haven't been anywhere near my eldest daughter and her family, or my son and his lovely wife, and I sorely miss them. My youngest daughter lives near me and seems settled, so we have been able to meet up from time to time - a happy thing.

 

Lots of my activities remain now on hold. My two lovely 1930s cars are hardly getting out of the garage. Staying in our little Romahome camper van is a distant memory. Clerical duties of any sort in my local church haven't happened, and I have decided to make that a permanent state of affairs. My prayer life, whilst it declined a lot, has now begun renewal in an unexpected fashion online. Music has been the biggest renewal and I am now performing online with my banjo, guitar, and rather husky ancient voice. My music life is the greatest renewal of all so far.

 

Writing for this journal and reading entries from my fellow journalistas remains a delight and a source of reflection, inspiration, sometimes sadness, and often amusement. Thanks so much to Margaret and Sheila and their hard work. I can't wait to give them each a big hug!

 

There are changes which we look towards, but I and best beloved find it best being conservative about these. We are neither of us experiencing the 'get these shackles off' turn of mind that seems so strong amongst in some spheres of life. Perhaps it is very understandable for people whose livelihoods have been and are at risk. I feel - we feel - for those enduring pain and damage that the plague has wrought. We are still in a cataclysm and we can only do our best...

21/03/2021

Home thoughts

Hilary Q, North Norfolk

Had I been living and working in the City, managing teams heavily involved in international projects, I doubt I would be feeling accomplished. Had I been a mother with a brood of children across a spectrum of ages I suspect I would be feeling exhausted and inadequate. Had I been a resident in a nursing home or a patient undergoing serious medical treatment I think I would have allowed myself to fade and die. Had I been living in a tenement in serious poverty I suspect I would have lost my mind.

 

The bottom line regarding this last year is that I have been nourished in every way... the love and care of my husband who has shopped and cooked and protected me from the outside world all the time retaining his wonderful sense of humour and immeasurable kindness; the opportunity to care for my mother and help her enjoy a brighter quality of life whilst coming to terms with her dotage; and, of course, the privilege of living in a beautiful house and garden filled with books and things to do.

 

The one thing I am conscious of atrophying is my interest and pleasure in music. I have simply ceased to listen to it. The last stronghold was always Radio 3 in the car but I have not needed to drive. Always in the attic I would play favourite music whilst making things but now my default is the silence of my own thoughts... these flit... and they flit at night... my brain seems incapable of rest and I rarely feel that I have slept restoratively.

 

What will I say when asked what I learned about myself during this year? Well, I became aware that I am not the competent, resourceful, selfless human being I once thought myself. Had it not been for the new communities and context of the Journal (and indeed Instagram!) I would have ceased to actualise my thoughts and deeds and left unrecorded and unremembered the small triumphs of a very strange year.

 

Preparing for the next twelve months I am minded to aspire to Marcus Aurelius’s sense of perfection... to live each day as though it were my last... without frenzy, without apathy and without pretence. One slight problem is that on 7th March (ironically I discover the date on of his birth) I picked up ‘Life. A User’s Manual’ by Georges Perec described by The Times Literary Supplement as ‘One of the great novels of the century’ and am utterly transfixed... so much so that I have now acquired a hefty biography and a copy of non fiction works titled ‘Species of Spaces and Other Pieces’... I need more than a last day to enjoy and learn from these!!!

hq2.jpg
hq3.jpg
hq1.jpg

21/03/2021

Greetings from the far south

Mark Waller, Pretoria, South Africa

Being able to contribute to the Plague Journal has been a lifeline for me. Without it there wouldn’t have been a chance to sound off about all the ups and downs of life during lockdown and the constant worry about becoming ill. It’s also been good to be able to dip into the experiences of the others who contribute here and get some perspective about how they have been coping and so get out of myself a bit.

 

I think of all the good things that have happened in my life since March last year and realise that they are almost exclusively linked to being at home with my children, Masana, Gracey and their older sister Leah (Leago - the ‘g’ is pronounced as ‘h’). 

 

Home learning was often a train wreck, though my young ones scraped through the end of year tests and exams, held at school at the end of the school year, in November. 

 

I think they enjoyed being at home. My freelance gig work dwindled to very little. The companies and organisations I write and translate for cut their budgets due to the pandemic, so I had more time on my hands to be with the kids and to paint. We needed less, hardly ever went out, except on brief sallies to the local store, and just made do as my income shrank to a trickle. We’ve been lucky, though. We’ve had one another and have gained by being together such a lot, and we’ve a big enough house and garden not to feel too hemmed in.

 

I don’t feel good about anything else. Not really. The past year has been a time of such unremitting misery, fear and even horror for so many people here and across the globe, and it haunts me constantly. 

 

The figures given out by the government in SA and everywhere else on the numbers of Covid-19 dead can only be gross underestimates. The information we have on excess deaths, only occasionally referred to officially, points to a more dire situation than the daily formal body count. It’s as if we are only able to talk of the situation euphemistically, to be hell bent of deceiving ourselves.

 

And it’s all still going on, in some areas worsening despite the promise of vaccines, so far only available to a very few. Maybe we are rounding a corner, glimpsing a light at the end of the tunnel… out of this having learnt anything about looking after one another better or taking the world in a better direction. 

 

The grubby, grabby race by rich countries to get their populations vaccinated at the expense of international cooperation to protect the most vulnerable in the world hardly suggests that countries will be able to work together better when the next pandemics come along or devastating climate crises take hold.

 

Anyway… thanks to Sheila and Margaret for producing such a wonderful online journal and giving us all a platform to make the weeks and months that little bit more bearable. Maybe in the future, when other similar and prolonged disasters unfold, people will come across this journal and gain something from our recorded experiences, even if only to conclude that ‘the situation is desperate but not serious’.

21/03/2021

Cotswold perspective

Rosemary, Rodborough Common

BJ has called for a national day of reflection to mark the upcoming anniversary of the first lockdown, and for all the thousands who have lost their lives during the pandemic. It will include a minute’s silence at noon followed by a bell toll. People are also being encouraged to stand on their doorsteps at 8pm with torches and candles to signify a “beacon of remembrance”.

However, I question whether this has been a pandemic of two halves. One half has been almost untouched by this dreadful virus - inconvenienced perhaps, unable to travel, or see family and friends etc, but essentially if financial secure, in a warm home, with food on the table, then you have been fortunate. 

There are thousands of people who have spent this year living in overcrowded conditions, and struggling to make ends meet, often with the burden of homeschooling their children.  

Many have risked their lives daily in order to make ends meet by carrying out menial tasks which put them at risk of contracting the virus and then taking it back home. Others too have risked picking up the virus on a daily basis - nurses, doctors, all of those essential workers that have put food on our tables, delivered the post, taken our rubbish away etc, and the many who are now suffering from 'long convid’ not knowing how long that might continue.

On March 23rd we should remember not only those who have died, but all those who have kept us safe during the past year, and last but not least the scientists who succeeded in giving us all a life saving vaccine.

21/03/2021

Strange times

Anna Stenborg, Uppsala, Sweden

We are in a third Corona wave now, but things are not so bad in my small Bollnäs Hospital. During the first wave we also had a Covid ICU but now we send all ICU Covid patients to the two other hospitals in the region: Gävle or Hudiksvall, so that is very good for us. I have no Covid patients on my ward but see their lung scans on the radiology rounds and quite often the pictures are terribly frightening to see. 

It was snowing again and spring is far away. It is sad but safe for my mother in the dementia ward. My current strategy is mostly to sing with her. I have put an old guitar on top of a cupboard in her room so I can find it when I visit. We mostly sing Salvation Army songs from her childhood. I also play Simon and Garfunkel, ABBA and such from Spotify on my mobile and we dance to the music. When I call her it is also to sing a bit so she can get started on a tune and continue on her own. We talk as well but unfortunately it is never possible to understand what she is talking about.

anna2.jpg
anna1.jpg

21/03/2021

Thin air

John Mole, St Albans

GREEN SHOOTS

 

Taking fresh aim

at yet another year

 

they keep it closely

in their sights

 

at first uncertain,

nervous of the trigger,

 

but then firing promises

they plan to keep.

 

Invisible at first

they wait in hiding,

 

ubiquitous metaphors

for imminent surprise,

 

undercover conscripts

gathering as an army

 

to march on Summer

with their glorious display.

21/03/2021

Vie de château

Marie-Christine, Blois, France

Covid reads

The most impressive reading I have done during this last year was a Gallimard pamphlet by Guillaume de Machaut, more famous as a composer of music and as one of the principal poets of his time. He was the secretary of John I of Bohemia - who was killed at Crecy in 1346. Guillaume's pamphlet is an account of his time during the Black Death, 1347-1352. He lived through it, locked down in his room in Reims. In those years, 30 to 50% of Europeans died (by comparaison, during WW2, 5% of the non-Slavonic European population was killed, among the Slavs the proportion was far higher). Machaut also talks about economic changes, mainly the lack of workers. The farm animals were running about wild. In convents and monasteries the death rate was even higher than elsewhere. As well as the lack of a labor force, there was high inflation and great social unrest. The richest became richer, since they were suddenly inheriting much more. Historians consider it the most important time of change in Europe since the Romans. I don't know if we can take that as an omen, but it teaches us that our future is deeply uncertain. Since WW2, we have been rather safe and comfortable in Western Europe, we are not trained as a society to be flexible and adaptable - although individually some of us have had to deal with serious problems.

 

My second best read has been "Voyage autour de ma chambre", by Xavier de Maistre, short, funny, clever. It was writen during 42 days of confinement, and published in 1794 at the time of the French Revolution. You can read an English translation on https://publicdomainreview.org/collection/a-journey-round-my-room-1794-1871. 

 

Did I use this Covid year well? 

Lockdown started in France on 17 March 2020 at noon.

Covid-19 gave me the greatest musical time of my life. Classical and baroque music have been my life-saver, my "sail" to carry me through this last year. 

I used my time from mid-March to mid-May 2020 resting from forty-eight years of hard medical work - hard intellectually, mentally, emotionally and physically. It's rather nice to have time to think mainly about oneself, even when one lacks the training. For me, at least, it has been as refreshing as a shower in summer. I shared graciously a little of this selfish time with Rob (his view is that he has had to be in attendance rather a lot of the time).

I got confidence about my cooking and put into use my collection of cookbooks (when I am very tired I like reading cookbooks), mainly the ones with anecdotes introducing the recipes. I would recommend Bubul Sharma and Rabbi Lionel Blue, both very amusing, with a reservation, the Rabbi's recipes are remarkably original but can't be considered "gastronomic". 

And since 1 January 2021, I get a monthly pension. Rather alarming to get money without working for it.

 

Pêle-Mêle memories 

The masks, the vaccines, the exhausted health systems, the ambiguous clapping, the daily anguishingly equivocal press conferences of Health Ministers... after a year, I am just exhausted just to think about all that. So tired of having to listen to so many manipulative lies from politicians. Everything half true. But everything half false too. The person doing sign language on the side of the screen seems far more genuinely expressive and sincere.

Biology: in our body, we have more cells of microbes (bacteria and yeast) than human cells. 

The photos I will remember: animals in cities.

The multiple powers of China, the hidden powers of Russia, the decapitation of a teacher near Paris, the woke and degrowth society... 

We have experienced, as in music, that movement never ends, it just changes speed, wave-length and direction, always expanding, and nothing to do with what we want or expect. We had forgotten that "humans walk in the mist", as Kundera has well said.

I appreciate greatly the weekly reckoning that the Plague20-21 journal has provided the occasion for.   

Private event: birth of our grand-daughter Flora on 24 July 2020, in California. We still have not seen her except on FaceTime. 

After a year spending so much time together, Rob and I still enjoy each other's company - despite his time correcting (and censoring) this page weekly, needing a glass of brandy at the end of it. 

 

My present for you

The last movement of Beethoven's Sixth Symphony, what ever performance you find on your computer or in your collection of music.

21/03/2021

Care in the time of Corona

Shirin Jacob, Ålesund, Norway

The last unforgettable year

If there is one lesson Covid has clarified, it is that we are connected as a World. The way it spread, the similar measures that countries adopted, albeit at different rates and the new Covid lexicon we speak.  

How has it affected me personally? 

 

I miss my daughter and son-in-law in London and meeting my best friend in Singapore. It’s been too long.  

 

I’ve become more comfortable with being alone. Pre- and post- Covid for me, in Ålesund, feels the same. I had two years from my arrival in January 2018 to get used to ‘social distancing’, isolation and loneliness before Covid hit. So I haven’t felt the depression and weirdness of isolation. I often say that Covid times feels more comfortable to introverts rather than extroverts. The thought I worry about in the future, not just post- Covid, is how One survives here in dotage surrounded by people who don’t stretch themselves to help? The State will send a nurse but what about Love and Kindness?  

 

I live on my iPhone. It connects me to the people I love. Lots of conversations on WhatsApp and Skype. I’m still not so conversant with Zoom as I prefer one to one conversations and find staring at my face on Zoom, FaceTime, and video unnerving especially whilst lounging on my sofa in my PJ’s, without the benefit of makeup, hair or lighting and the phone highlighting my nostrils, cupboard and ceiling behind me.  

 

Instagram has opened a whole new world and I have made new Insta friends. Will they stay Insta? Never Real? I follow some gardens, Interiors and potters. And notice the faithful ones who always like One’s posts. Starting to understand the power of ‘Likes’.  

 

What does the future hold post-2022? 

I don’t really know. I imagine vaccine passports, PCR tests, possibly new mutants requiring even more new jabs. And the invariable short- or long-term side effects. The cynic in me thinks that there must be a dark side to hastily rolled out vaccines. I will, however take the vaccine. I have more to lose if I don’t, given my age, ethnic group and pre-existing medical condition. If I had money, I would invest it in Big Pharma, biotech and medical equipment. That’s the future. They seem to be the only winners from this pandemic.  

 

A friend is on holiday for four days in Istanbul from Sofia, Bulgaria. She says everyone wears masks and she feels safe, given she already had Covid. The clinic will send a lab tech to her hotel to take the PCR test before she goes back to Bulgaria. That’s Service indeed!  

 

I think we may have already unconsciously adopted new habits. We have gotten used to disinfection and more frequent handwashing, which isn’t a bad thing. Wearing masks on public transport, like they did in Japan pre-Covid might decrease the spread of the common cold in the future.

My husband and I probably won’t travel abroad as often. There is so much to enjoy in Norway. One well-considered trip a year, at the most. I’ve never enjoyed busy airports and lining up. The first holiday that I wish for after having met my children and my BFF? Cochin, Kerala to eat my favourite childhood food.  

I was reading a review of Jordan Peterson’s latest book by Lucy Kellaway in the FT. 

His you tube videos gave me a lot of hope in the dark days when I first arrived here. I would listen to his thoughts from his book “12 Rules for Life” whilst walking to the language school. Like Piers Morgan, he waged a war against this new world of Political Correctness. Like Piers, he paid a very dear price. Jordan Peterson who Lucy Kellaway feels has suffered more than most of us, values Gratitude. She quotes him “Gratitude is something in which you can discover part of the antidote to the abyss and the darkness”.  

 

In these difficult times, what are we grateful for, my friends? 

 

God helg my fellow readers.  

shirins-cat.jpg

21/03/2021

Staying home

Nicky, Vermont, USA

On March I3, 2020, (Friday the thirteenth, now I think about it, an inauspicious day) I drove B. to the doctor’s because she wasn’t feeling well. I’d felt ill for quite a while too. Mysterious unproductive cough, low grade fever. That sort of thing. We didn’t think much of it, though I did skip a dear friend’s funeral so I wouldn’t pass on whatever I had. COVID hadn’t yet reached Vermont.

I like B’s doctor. He’s comforting. He’s caring, low key, has a sense of humor, and thinks about alternatives to conventional medicine too. On Friday the thirteenth he was stern, humorless. He is also one of the top administrators at the local hospital, someone in a position to know what was happening. 

He berated us for coming in, putting ourselves at risk for catching Covid, and putting the staff at risk as well. He gave B. a perfunctory exam, pronounced her fine. Then he told us in no uncertain terms to go and buy groceries for several weeks and then stay home. Do not go out. We were shocked. 

At the supermarket we took two small carts and collected vegetables and fish. I’d already read about the problem with toilet paper availability in Sydney, Australia and had bought a gigantic packet of toilet paper.  

When we entered the supermarket it was relatively empty and by the time we were checking out it was full of people with large carts full of groceries. We were grateful we each had taken a small cart and could check out in the fast lane. On our way from the store to the car someone passing us asked if we’d heard, the governor was about to shut down the state. At the food coop, our next stop, we stocked up with bulk foods and there people also had huge carts full of food and there were lines to check out.  

We drove home, and settled in. Worried about our children, worried about everyone. Worried about ourselves. Through two zoom Passover seders with our friends in New York we learned we could still celebrate, still be with friends even if they were far away. 

And thus began the few weeks that turned into a year and counting. B. got better. We muddled through. Panicked, calmed down. Panicked. Calmed down. We were horrified at the Republican incompetence and malfeasance. Horrified at the consequences.

   

I began emailing back and forth with Linzy, a friend from the late 60’s. I found this journal through a St. Chris Facebook post. Suggested it to Linzy. Started submitting writing often. Reading it often. I appreciated the personal windows into what was going on in England, South Africa, Norway, and other places around the world. I appreciated getting to know everyone through the journal entries.

 

For a few months we met Sam and Michele every Friday on their front porch to light candles, say blessings and, if it was warm enough, eat dinner. This involved thick down coats, hats, and gloves. We didn’t know about masks yet.  

Now B and I have both had both our shots. In another week we’ll have all the immunity the shots provide. On zoom we’ll have our first night seder with our dear friends in New York. No travel yet. The seder’s theme this year will be freedom. We’re planning a second night seder with Sam and Michele. Inside one of our houses. Together. Michele and I are giddy at the thought. A liberation. Of sorts.

21/03/2021

Bumpy landing on the south coast

Catherine, Sussex

Greetings to Plague journallers.

Congratulations on making it through the last year, and best wishes for the coming one.

21/03/2021

Broadland type

Sheila, Norfolk UK

Coming to the end of designing this edition of the Journal and comparing notes as usual with Margaret, I counted 49 entries for this Anniversary.

Shortly after our phone conversation, I received an email from Margaret:

Only a suggestion (!!) 
Could you write a sentence or two and make it 50?!!!

Well, yes and no...

If I had put this extra contribution on the last page, it would have made the length of page 4 too long for the maximum length of the phone version I have to do after I've done the main computer and tablet pages. So I simply couldn't 'just' add it to page 4 because it was too long, and I wasn't about to start moving things to accommodate myself on the last page. So I went back through the pages and found that this page (2) was short enough for me to add something. So here I am!

We have all suffered consequences of this insidious infection, though few can have anticipated a year ago when we first conceived the idea of recording our experiences the wide and frightening extent of suffering we and those around us were to endure, or the extended period of our individual agonies.

For me, the prolonged seat at the designer’s desk has been - largely - a joy, something afresh from a long life in print. It’s when I return to the ‘set’ pages and actually read them as distinct from manipulating copy I feel contact with you all, part of your lives.

If involvement with the Journal has in any way helped, I’m pleased to have played a part, maybe helped you along the way. It’s been a funny old year. Sheila x.