30/05/2021

Words from Wood Lane

Susan Neave, Beverley

The last edition of the Journal - the end of an epic project masterminded so skilfully by Margaret and Sheila. What a fascinating journey it has been through one of the most memorable periods in modern history. I'm not going to waste space talking about the pandemic - Dominic Cummings has already spent seven hours telling us what went wrong. 

 

So far it's been a busy week. On Monday we had a long-awaited trip to the coast, not far from Spurn Point, and the weather was kind. The Spurn Discovery Centre cafe has reopened - no sofa overlooking the estuary, but the coffee and cake is just as good, and the beach yielded some tiny but lovely carnelians. We visited a couple of garden centres before going home, and I've just finished planting up some pots. Lovely lunch with friends at their house near York on Wednesday - so much to catch up on. 'Silver Swans' ballet started again today, but just a small group, socially distanced, with no barre.

 

What of plans for the future? There is always work, most of it turning up by chance and much of it unpaid, though sometimes I'm paid enough to buy a few pins. (As other historians, writers and artists will know, financial remuneration bears no relationship to number of hours worked!) Soon there will be the proofs of the Heritage Shell Guide to read, and the index to be compiled. The Historic Towns Trust has commissioned a map of Beverley as part of their national series, there is a house history to do, and a public lecture postponed from last year.

Exotic holidays are not on the list. Although the world is full of places it would be lovely to see, we are quite happy to stay in the UK. For day trips we have within easy reach the Yorkshire coast, Wolds, Moors, and Dales. For short breaks there is Northumberland or the Scottish borders, or west to Cumbria. We are looking forward to the drive through Lincolnshire to Norfolk before too long (with the promise of the Old Hall party) and in October we'll be in Southwold unless Covid strikes again. When we get the chance we'll back to all our favourites, visited often: Blackwell, Charleston, Kettle's Yard and many more.

 

The yearning to explore other parts of the country began when I was a child. I was always happy with my nose in a book, my beloved velvet rabbit by my side. It was when I graduated from the adventures of the Famous Five to Malcolm Saville's 'Lone Pine' books, and realised that many of the places described were real, that I knew that one day I had to visit them. Although many of Saville's books were set in Shropshire, it was the ones based in Sussex that really caught my imagination. I dreamed of walking down a quaint, narrow cobbled street in Rye, that ancient cinque port perched on a hill, to the Gay Dolphin Hotel (which for those who are familiar with the town was a combination of the Mermaid and the Hope and Anchor), or exploring the haunting landscape of Romney Marsh. We've stayed in Rye several times, and that strong sense of place has never left me.

 

I'm still happy to curl up in a corner with a book and be transported to another place, often with my long-eared friend by my side. It's a good place to be when the world outside is still so uncertain. 

 

Thank you everyone for the brilliant Journal entries. Look forward to meeting some of you one day xxxx

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30/05/2021

Strange times

Anna Stenborg, Uppsala, Sweden

This morning I read the most interesting and inspiring article in the New York Times about a fun way to teach dogs to communicate. We will definitely try to get this new communication equipment. See link below: 

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/27/style/bunny-the-dog-animal-communication.html?smid=url-share

 

There is not so much to report this week except that we have had an unprecedented low number of admitted patients this week in my small hospital in Bollnäs. Only half of the 48 hospital beds have been occupied during this week. Also, today we have only one confirmed Covid-19 patient in the hospital. We even joked about contacting local radio to get more patients.

 

At Uppsala University Hospital, by contrast, today out of 578 hospital beds, 29 are not available because of the shortage of nurses and this morning only 3 of the available hospital beds are not occupied...

Today is a sunny and warm day. As usual during my Bollnäs weeks, I also work during the weekend, but on Saturday, after work I will go for a drink with my new colleague, Ester who is originally from Hungary. She is very energetic and only slightly neurotic. I hope that you all will have a great summer.

30/05/2021

Bunny and Me

Henrietta, Leicestershire

So... Bunny and I have been a little quiet over the last few months and not managed a journal post for some time, but we’ve mooched our way into this last one and we can both honestly say... err better late than never.!

 

We’ve been quiet but definitely not lazy. 

In fact we’ve been in charge of a rather interesting little competition that we invented to keep everyones spirits up in the little lane where we live.

The great Church Lane Pottery Challenge ! 

It was Bunny’s idea really, he’d overheard some of the neighbours complaining about boredom and others about time on their hands. He remarked that his mummy (Me) was never bored and always creating something and why couldn’t she get the neighbours to do something creative.. 

“Well Bunny it’s easier said than done” I explained, “one can’t just impose creativity on people “! 

 

Bunny tutted at me, “Seems easy enough to me” then he tutted again and I realised he wasn’t tutting he was doing that strange noise they do when they see a bird. It’s a sort of teeth shudder crossed with a meow. I think it means they want to eat the bird but can’t be bothered with the chase. 

 

To cut a long story short, and lots of discussion with Captain BunBun, I gave all my neighbours (7 households with 15 individuals) a small bag of clay, just about fist size. I Also printed off a sheet of instructions and rules and a deadline of 2 weeks to create a woodland creature out of the said clay.

Okay just to be clear, not one of them had touched clay since primary school. So this was a little bit frightening for some of them.

There were the inevitable moans and groans to start with but then a splurge of competitive willingness took over and by the end of 2 weeks I had an abundance of very acceptable clay sculptures to fire. 

After firing these were handed back to be decorated and were then displayed at a small ‘socially distanced’ garden party hosted by Bunny and Me. 

Not Lazy at all.

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30/05/2021

“Survival” diary

Susan, Country Victoria, Australia

Well, we Victorians are back in full lockdown. Quarantine is the wide open door through which this virus marches and in spite of everything that is known we simply won’t take effective action to rectify the problems. It is the B.1.617 variant and the spread has been rapid. At the moment the chains of transmission are known. Our country’s complacency at our uniquely blessed position has made vaccination roll out slow and clunky. I hope this wake up hasn’t come too late. I had my first vaccination today. I rang the local medical clinic charged with the roll out this morning and was seen at 11am. If I had not needed to wait my fifteen minutes for an anaphylaxis check I would have been in and out in five minutes. The surgery had all their doctors and nurses on deck and it was carried out seamlessly. I felt so proud of our frontline workers. So far, so good on the side effects. I took advice and did some brisk exercise before and after the vaccination and lifted some weights when my arm felt a bit stiff late this afternoon. 

 

The lockdown has meant some minor inconvenience of cancelled appointments. My husband is working on the other side of the border and has decided to stay there for the time being and see how the next week plays out. We were to go to the football in Melbourne tonight and tomorrow. It is the indigenous round where the long and proud association of our First Nations people to our game is celebrated. The Dreamtime at the G game and the associated walk to the ground is one of the most beautiful nights of the year. Next year we hope to walk it again. 

 

The highlight of the week was the super blood moon and lunar eclipse. It was truly awe inspiring. I found myself thinking about my very ancient and not very well dressed or housed ancestors and what their thoughts might have been. 

 

If there hadn’t been this dreadful virus I would never have connected to you wonderful crew. In those first weeks of complete uncertainty I found the journal entries very comforting. People saying with openness and clarity what I couldn’t or wouldn’t say myself and occasionally making me laugh out loud. Donald Trump seems like a lifetime ago. I had almost forgotten Dominic Cummings and his “minor” breaches of Covid restrictions. He is back with a nasty grudge. No one likes a sore loser especially one who appears to be entirely bereft of a personal moral compass. 

 

I can’t wait to see the pictures of the garden party. Take care and stay in touch. Perhaps it could become an annual event and when international travel resumes I could drop by and say hello.

30/05/2021

Greetings from the far south

Mark Waller, Pretoria, South Africa

There are calls from medical experts here for a return to more strict lockdown measures. We’re currently at ‘level one’, which carries very few limitations. We’ve been at this level since March, and I get the feeling that for most people it feels as if everything is back to normal, despite the continued use of face masks and the procedures for entering shops and public buildings.

 

But the increase in infections, which we’re told is due to the spread of the more virulent ‘Indian variant’ of Covid, may force the government to put us back to level two or three. That would allow a lot of the country’s commercial activity to continue, but would put a brake on attendance at big events such as funerals and weddings.

 

The rollout of the vaccination programme for frontline health workers and people of 60 years and older is still fitful. The latter group were supposed to start receiving their jabs last week. In Tshwane, which includes Pretoria and the wider surrounding area, the idea has been to vaccinate over 468 people a day. I’m not sure why the number is so specific, but only about half that have been receiving jabs. The delay is worrying because we’re on the rising ground of the ‘third wave’ of infections, which is expected to peak in late June.

 

So once more we just have to sit tight, remain indoors as much as possible, and try not to feel too afraid. By ‘we’ I mean people in my age group, the ‘vulnerables’. In that respect nothing has changed or improved since this time last year, except that there is at least a vaccine in existence.

 

I’ve read that the new variant of Covid is more easily transmitted to and among children. If that’s the case it would mean that the three phases of the vaccination programme will have to be reconsidered, as young age groups are currently not included.

 

One good thing, if we compare the situation now to how it looked a year ago, is that the numbers of infections and deaths seem to have been fewer than feared. The official figures are underestimates, as they are just about everywhere else in the world. But still, the virus hasn’t devastated poor communities in South Africa. Of course, we don’t know what will happen. We’re not out of the woods yet.

 

My kids are rearing to get back to normal, to going out with friends, going to ‘Bounce’ — the vast indoor trampoline park across town, long closed due to its ‘super-spreader’ potential. They may have to wait a while. I’m all too aware that during the lighter lockdowns my own vulnerability has been an added hindrance to their being able to do more.

 

It’s hard to see how things will pan out over the next six months or so. There are still very many ifs. I’ll miss being able to write to you all here and complain about life in SA in a time of corona. It’s been great to try to take stock of the situation fairly regularly, to try to keep track of what’s going on when in all other respects the days, weeks and months have so few markers. My one regret is that I am so utterly hopeless at proofreading my own writing.

 

Most of the things we worry about are trivial and yet require that we try to deal with them with some dexterity and ease. Despite the gloomy global backdrop of Covid, which put us all in some respects in the same boat, grappling with the mainly paltry ups and downs of my day to day life during this period remind me of Dickens’ excellent and symbolically insightful advice, offered in The Pickwick Papers, should you lose your hat.

 

“There are very few moments in a man’s existence when he experiences so much ludicrous distress, or meets with so little charitable commiseration, as when he is in pursuit of his own hat. A vast deal of coolness, and a peculiar degree of judgment, are requisite in catching a hat. A man must not be precipitate, or he runs over it; he must not rush into the opposite extreme, or he loses it altogether. The best way is to keep gently up with the object of pursuit, to be wary and cautious, to watch your opportunity well, get gradually before it, then make a rapid dive, seize it by the crown, and stick it firmly on your head; smiling pleasantly all the time, as if you thought it as good a joke as anybody else.”

30/05/2021

From a very small Island

Michael Johnston, Isle of Wight

It's been a journey hasn't it!

 

For me, it began when I started looking for something similar to Mass Observation, that wonderful collection of personal diaries covering the Second World War amongst other events. I have been a fan of MO for many years and enjoyed reading published excerpts such as those edited by Siman Garfield and others. Initially I thought that it was going to restart and collect diaries for the pandemic. Curiously, I managed to sign up online, prior to eliciting no response at all!  That left me disappointed, but I began nevertheless trying to write thoughts down each day. Then, via the St Chris Club, I heard about this wonderful endeavour run by Margaret and Sheila.

 

Initially a little diffident about writing, it didn't take long for my beginning to feel part of a warm, welcoming online community, quite unlike any other I had hitherto experienced. Other communities online seem to focus on participants addressing one another. That has been but a relatively small aspect of Plague20 it seems, with direct messages as addenda sometimes. Instead journalists have shared with the world during this ghastly and life changing time. I can't obviously speak for others, but I know I have changed a lot during the past year and a bit. I have gone thorough phases of being able to cope, and others when things really didn't feel good. Best beloved and myself have not - as far as we know - had Covid, but family and friends have suffered directly and indirectly to various degrees. Reading the words of others, it has been possible to recognise much shared experience, and also the variation brought about by circumstance and individual nature. I have loved sharing and reading others' thoughts, feelings and observations on the state of their personal lives and also that of the larger community. It's been good, so thank you all so much. Somehow it feels we are linked forever.

So, a few words about the past week. Needless to say the beach hut is central. Best beloved and myself have continued working on its repair and restoration. Most of the structural work is now complete, with a little fettling needed prior to repainting.the doors. Our time there has been good for us, and it has provided opportunities for random chats with passers-by. For a long time we have been avoiding such encounters, but we feel more relaxed about it now and have enjoyed interesting conversations. In just over a week, the beach hut should become once more a centre for family gathering on the occasion of a visit to the Island by one of best beloved's daughters and her delightful family. I think that we might have some fun together, in a way that has so often been disallowed lately.

On the bigger world scene, I find myself now using the French phrase, 'Plus ça change!' Whatever does change indeed? Scoundrels for a large part seem to be able to seize power in most lands, but maybe that's just part of the human condition - I don't know. I think that most of us here are longing for something better, but I am not generally sanguine about its achievement.

 

Wildlife has featured quite a lot in my journal entries, but I haven't seen much that is new this past week. The other day a song thrush was in my garden - the first for some time. That was good to see.

 

Finally, thank you all once more, and we hope to meet some of you face to face quite soon...

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30/05/2021

Burlingham blog

Mary Fisher, Norfolk UK

Dominic Cummings, former chief advisor to the PM, gave evidence to the Joint Science and Health Select Committee this week. Needless to say it attracted most of the media attention with headline brickbats such as “PM unfit to lead” and “Health Secretary should have been sacked for lying”. Worst of all was Cummings assertion that “tens of thousands of people died who didn’t need to die”. I cannot imagine how hard this must have been to hear if you are one of the bereaved. Whilst waiting for a full public inquiry the Committee decided to set up its own inquiry on “lessons to be learned”. Cummings spent seven hours dishing the dirt on the PM and his ministers into their incompetent handling of the pandemic. The following day the PM and his Ministers start lobbing the dirt back. What a shambles. Matt Hancock, Minister for Health, was the target of most of Cummings criticism. Especially over his promise that all elderly people would be tested being sent from hospital to care homes. In the event this did not happen, there was no protective shield put around care homes, the promised PPE never materialised and people died.  

 

To date, there have been 130,000 deaths in the UK; one third of these have been in care homes. Yet, the PM is still insisting it’s far too early to have an inquiry into its actions during the pandemic; insisting that his Ministers are still concentrating on fighting the pandemic. Not quite sure how this squares with the government’s plan to remove all Covid restrictions on June 21st. Instead, the PM has decided to kick the thorny issue into the long grass and a public inquiry will not start until Spring 2022. Of course that may then clash with a general election. Either way, I’m sure there will be plenty of buckets of whitewash to hand. And a final look to the future. Will the PM remove the remaining Covid regulations on June 21... even though the number of people contracting the virus continues to rise? Of course he will.  

 

All the visitors to Barbara’s care home received a right royal reprimand from the manager this week. It seems that some visitors have been removing some of their PPE whilst they’ve been visiting a relative. Hardly surprising as confused residents find it difficult to recognise their mask-wearing visitors. Hard of hearing people like Barbara struggle even more with muffled voices. Barbara spends lots of our time together pleading with me to remove my mask. Interestingly, under the new regulations, we can take residents out and neither of us needs to wear any PPE. However, within the confines of the home, full PPE must continue to be worn. In spite of wearing PPE throughout my visits, I feel fully chastened. 

 

Well it is time to say goodbye to the journal. To fellow contributors, I’ve loved your articles; a joy to read each week. To the editors, thank you so much for creating this amazing piece of oral history. Margaret’s idea was to write about our observations and reflections on life during the pandemic. I’m not sure if I’ve always kept to the script but it was a privilege to be given the space to look at what was happening around me. For myself, I have done much navel-gazing. Plague20 has provided a platform that has given us an opportunity to share our fears, our frustrations and our joys. Hopefully, oral historians in the years to come will find some of our contributions useful. Margaret and Sheila should be very proud of their impressive achievement.

30/05/2021

Notes from a factory in the Midlands

MFS, Midlands

For my final contribution to our journal I wonder whether I should be reflecting on the last 14 months, or simply on the last week; on my personal experiences, the company experience or events in the wider world. But as ever, I will just throw down a few paragraphs, and try and string them together into some sort of structure. 

 

There was confusion over local lockdowns, seemingly focussed on places beginning with B, such as Blackburn, Burnley, Bolton, Bury, Blackpool, Bedford, Bradford and so on (I’ve added a few of my own to the official list). This shows the government is still struggling with messaging – how to tell people it is safe to start getting back to normal, but at the same time saying you need maintain a degree of caution in some areas. What is clear is that we are going to have to learn to live with the virus – and we will probably have good years and bad years as variants emerge and roll around the world, in the way that influenza has always done. And perhaps every autumn the older half of the population will be queuing up for a Covid jab alongside our regular flu jab. 

 

The chaos, confusion and conflicting advice within Whitehall at the start of the pandemic was exposed by the PM’s former advisor Dominic Cummings giving evidence to a Parliamentary Committee, though how much credibility we should attach to his observations is up for debate. Perhaps he should do an interview with Oprah Winfrey next. And suggestions are re-emerging that the origin of the virus may in fact have been an accidental “lab leak” in Wuhan, China, and not a random zoonotic event that just happened to occur a couple of miles down the road from one of the few laboratories in the world where they experiment on coronaviruses. 

 

There are encouraging signs of a return to economic normality and we need consumers and businesses to start investing, spending and generally moving forward with confidence in order to support economic growth and employment. Our company is in a healthy position now – a marked contrast to my first blog entry on 26th March last year when I worried that we might run out of money. And we have just passed the 250 employee mark - which in the growth of a company, is a rite of passage, like becoming an adult.

 

One recurring topic in my entries has been Brexit and our painful negotiations with the EU. And in relation to the EU it was predictable but depressing to see this week that Switzerland has had to walk away from seven years of negotiations with the EU because it was not prepared to sacrifice its democratic principles in the face of unreasonable demands from the Brussels bureaucracy for overarching control of economic regulation. The USA doesn’t seek to lord it over Canada. Why does Brussels feel the need to try and regulate its near neighbours like the UK, Switzerland and Norway? A sense of insecurity perhaps?

 

Another subject that has popped up in my journal has been Thomas Cromwell and Hilary Mantel. So we were thrilled this week to be able to book tickets for a performance this autumn in London of the new RSC stage adaptation of “The Mirror and the Light”. Another event to look forward to!

This is my 73rd entry to the journal, an output of over 32,000 words! I am wondering whether I should continue, for my own pleasure, to maintain a weekly journal, my reflections on the events of the week. And when I am old and gaga I can read through it again and reminisce, or perhaps be completely baffled by the events I was writing about.

 

Thank you Margaret and Sheila for creating this wonderful journal, and for prompting me into writing for pleasure once again. I have enjoyed reading the varied and contrasting experiences of my fellow journalers from around the country and across the world, creating a great sense of community, and I will miss the feeling of anticipation each week as I wait to see the diary published.

 

To conclude – on a rare sunny morning this week I took this photo of our “Factory in the Midlands”, and leave it with you as my farewell.

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30/05/2021

Restrictions for many

Hilde Schöning, Buchholz, Germany

Dear fellow writers and readers,

 

The time has come to write the last contribution to this wonderful project, and I am very glad to have been part of it. It was a very welcome change to be in a community in times of social distancing and generally not meeting a lot of family members and friends. My special thanks to Margaret and Sheila!

 

Restrictions are eased but travelling is still difficult if you want to go abroad, hence there will not be a chance of a short trip to England. If you meet for the garden party, I wish you a brilliant day with good weather. Here warmer and drier conditions have been announced for the weekend. We intend to cycle and enjoy the countryside on my birthday on Sunday. Celebrations will take place later when it should be allowed to invite more people again and the workload is less.

 

Schools are supposed to return to full classrooms next week, and I look forward to meeting all students face-to-face. I must emphasize that the last year was very difficult for them and in my eyes children, teenagers and young adults suffered the most from the pandemic.

 

I wish you all good health and general well-being, and hope to meet in the future.

30/05/2021

My feelings on paper

Barbara Warsop, Sheffield, Yorkshire

Who would have thought it that at the age of 82 I would be contributing to this journal? It’s been such a privilege to join you all. Quite a saviour for me. I have enjoyed reading all your news. I wish you all well. I give thanks to our intrepid producers Margaret and Sheila for all their hard work and know how. We will never forget you.

 

Meanwhile in Sheffield doom and gloom continue with closures and mergers unabated. The Archaeology department of Sheffield University is set to close. This is such a blow for Sheffield Heritage city. A world-wide department of excellence and teaching.

When I got home from Sarah’s last week, I received a phone call from Professor of Archaeology Paul Halstead. He is retired now from Sheffield university and during 2014/16 he arranged for the archaeology students to help me research my birth place of Parkwood Springs in Sheffield that had been pulled down during the 1960s slum clearances. After finding out that there was no recorded history of the place. I decided that I must write about it myself before it was lost forever. Culminating in my book “The lost Village of Parkwood Springs”

What joy I had working with the students. I have a life long friendship with my first student from Portugal. She now calls me her English grandma and my husband and I were invited to her wedding in 2018. The second-year students researched the railway arch on Bardwell Rd and found out that the design engineer was a Sheffield man who went on to be the engineer on the Firth of Forth famous railway bridge.

 

Professor Halstead asked me if I would write a letter to the local newspaper describing my experiences with the archaeology department and also to Sheffield university executive board to try and halt this closure. I truly did this but the slippery slope of this endemic carries on.

The executive board met on the 25th May to consider 3 options

1. To support and invest in the dept

2. To close the dept with all staff made redundant

3. To retain archaeology as a subdiscipline but not as a department. Two key areas of perceived strength encompassing approximately four staff to be realigned to other cognate depts with remaining staff to be made redundant.

 

The executive board responded by saying that due to reduction in undergraduate students’ numbers, that action has to be taken to address this. Therefore, recommendations of key areas of research and teaching, cultural heritage and osteoarchaeology are by moving them elsewhere in the University in line with many other universities.  

 

Personally, I think the reduction in students in the past year is due to covid and the disruption for all students being such a difficult year for their education. The final proposal will be considered by the university senate on the 23rd June before a final decision is taken by the university council on 23rd July. Let’s hope that this department of worldwide excellence can continue.   

 

Then there is the question of merger for Stocksbridge steel works. With thousands of workers lets hope that survives for the future of Sheffield industry 

 

On a better note.
Today I am being taken to my favourite sea side place “Saltburn by the Sea” North Yorkshire, by my granddaughter and boyfriend. I am looking forward to that. After all this time of loneliness. What joy that will be.  

 

I wish all my fellow journalists well in the future and hope to meet some of you at the party perhaps in September. Giving time a chance with this virus recovery.

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The  photo above is the info on the railway arch by the students
archaeology dept of Sheffield University


The group photo is Professor of archaeology Paul Halstead with students
and I at my book launch 2017

30/05/2021

Bookbinding

John Underwood, Norfolk

Frothy- Mocha-Latte-Something-Or-Other

 

My 1639 copy of Francis Bacon’s Sylva Sylvarum, is a firm favourite. Peter sold me my first copy, describing it as “one of the  great dipping in” books, and he is correct. When it comes to Journal Writing Time (and my capitals are intentional) the book can always be counted upon to provide stimulus, and I shall employ it later. I am writing this last entry with a cup of indifferent coffee, which provides an indifferent stimulus, thinking about my fellow journalists doing the same thing. I hope your coffee is better than mine. One of the things that people seem to have missed greatly during successive lockdowns, is the chance to “meet up for a coffee”. I have to say that the whole coffee THING completely passes me by. I would no more contemplate buying a coffee in Costa or Starbucks or wherever than I would yearn for a pomegranate (nasty gritty things) or eat tripe. I would rather have builder’s tea, but again, I would resent paying for a cup. Sorry.

 

So here we all sit, wondering, like me, what to say to each other as we write our last entry. You just might be sitting in a coffee shop (horrors!) thinking about what the journal has meant to you. You might well read the weekly journal wherever you are in the world “over a cup of coffee” on Sunday morning.

 

In my reflective moments I find myself  looking back with astonishment, trying to remember how it was possible to write a DAILY journal. How did we DO that? I have to mentally prepare a couple of days before writing, (you wouldn’t think so with some of the drivel that I have come up with), and set some time apart (Journal Writing Time), and even then, don’t manage an entry every week.

 

Francis Bacon wrote (here we go) “They have in Turkey, a Drinke called Coffa made of a Berry of the same Name, as Blacke as Soot and of a Strong Sent, but not Aromaticall; Which they take, beaten into a Powder, in Water, as hot as they can drinke it: And they take it, and sit at it in their Coffa-Houses, which are like our Tavernes. This Drinke comforteth the Braine, and Heart, and helpeth digestion.”

Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy a cup of coffee - but not with froth on top thanks, I really dislike milk - it’s “coffee culture” that I haven’t learned to enjoy. 

So, fellow travellers worldwide, drinking or not drinking your coffee as you read this, I want to thank you for all your entertaining diary entries. You have made me laugh out loud, you have made me pause for thought, you have given me a reason to write and to engage with people during a time of isolation from others. You have introduced phrases into my daily speech - next slide please. We have all had our highs and lows, and have shared them with each other, and encouraged and quietly empathised in our separated lives. Margaret and Shelia have worked tirelessly to accommodate us, with images to play with, late entries to deal with, and thousands of words to read and edit, and no doubt coffee played a part. Thank you both. You, and your family members have given up your time selflessly to see the Plague Journal through, and have created something quite special which deserves to survive in one form or another - your next project perhaps? Milk, no sugar?