Friday, March 20th, 2020

[Day 4]

Each day has its own particular ‘timbre’ and today is no exception. Our morning was considerably lightened up by two events. Firstly, one of the very friendly staff in Waitrose has offered me whatever assistance I might need in the weeks ahead. Accordingly, I/we are going to devise a system whereby I can leave a bag complete with my newspaper tokens and she can deliver ‘The Times‘ and ‘The Guardian‘ into the bag without my needing to enter the store – this will be brilliant if we can get it to work. It shows how some people are full of the spirit of altruism of which more later. The second thing that brightened up our morning was meeting one of our ‘Waitrose’ friends in the park – we were able to sit on adjacent park benches at least a metre apart and exchange gossip over how we were coping with the crisis. I think we were both incredibly pleased to see each other as it broke up the social isolation for us mutually On the way home, we called by one of our immediate neighbours and had a brief conversation through a partially opened window. She was telling us a horrendous story of local groups of people who were going into Asda and engaging in all sorts of panic buying before disgorging the contents of their trolleys into their cars, putting on a new set of other clothes and headgear so they would not be recognised and then entering the store again for a second sortie.

In the afternoon, I managed to successfully make a PDF file of my claim to the insurance company complete with accompanying documentation. I managed to successfully edit the PDF file of a page copied twice in error and then used an online pdf compression program to reduce its size from 11Mb to 1.6 Mb before I submitted it. Whether or not, I will get any of our money back from the planned trip to Portugal in May I do not know but at least I have tried one line of attack before I take issue with the credit card company, which will be the last resort.

On a more reflective note, the crisis seems to be revealing a polarisation in our society between a group of largely uneducated, individualistic and essentially selfish individuals on the one hand and a more responsible, altruistic and community-minded set of people on the other. Perhaps ‘thus was it ever so’ but certainly the crisis is bringing it into sharp relief.

The Sky News video of conditions in the Bergamo hospital in Northern Italy which is already completely overwhelmed gave pause for thought, to put it mildly. They are saying that this might only be a foretaste of that is to come in the UK as we seem to be some three weeks behind Italy and the rate of increase in the UK seems worse than other comparable societies such as China, Italy etc. Without being melodramatic, I think I would die peacefully at home rather than eventually in the insulated, chaotic and impersonal settings that we see in the Italian critical care hospitals (which, by all accounts, are better equipped than ours)