Monday, 6th April, 2020

[Day 21]

It was a beautiful, bright and sunny morning this morning – but on our daily trip to the park, we did not happen to see any of our friends or acquaintances so we had to enjoy our mid-morning snack and coffee in total solitude. In fairness, there were very few people in the park so perhaps the message about self-isolation is really getting home. It is sad to report that after the delight of seeing a brood of ten young ducklings a couple of days ago, the pond is now totally bereft of ducklings. One can only assume that they have constituted a tasty meal for someone – possibly a fox that roams by night or seagulls that predate during the day. In any case, the sum total of ducklings now appears to be zero. When we arrived home, we were greeted with a minor domestic crisis. We have a communal mini-sewerage treatment servicing our six hours and although this has been serviced only 2-3 weeks ago it was starting to smell somewhat. A tanker driver had mistakenly turned up at our property and upon inspection, it turned out that our unit was over-full and in urgent need of emptying. Once the level of the effluent reaches a certain level, a pump should be activated which disperses the ‘grey’ water, theoretically biologically pure, through a herringbone series of pipes that lay underneath our communal grassed area (which we have jokingly called Meg’s Meadow) So phone calls had to be made, one to the company that services the electrical and mechanical elements and to another which is engaged in the six-monthly emptying. The ’emptying’ company at first said that our contract had been terminated despite a direct debit being in place – we suspect that an accountancy upgrade and move to ‘paperless’ billing meant that we had been thrown off their maintenance schedules. So we have to arrange for an emergency emptying followed by an inspection by the maintenance company that no vital component had failed or is malfunctioning. We think we have now got the two firms involved to resume their normal schedules and let us hope that equilibrium is soon to be restored.

In the afternoon, we resumed some house-cleaning duties. I am reminded of the American comedienne Joan Rivers who once remarked ‘The thing about housework is that there is so much hoovering, dusting, cleaning, polishing – and then nine months later you have to do it all over again!‘ In the late afternoon, we had a FaceTime chat with two of our closest Waitrose friends – we exchanged recipes and other tales of how we were coping the crisis (quite well actually) Without this modern bit of technology, we would feel the absence of social contacts with friends acutely, I am sure. I reflect upon the fact that when our son spent an academic year in Mexico just before email became prevalent (1986-87) a letter would take three weeks to get to him in Mexico and the reply another three weeks to get back. If his scholarship to Mexico had been a year or so later then an email would have made keeping in contact almost instantaneous.

During the course of the evening, we get the news flash about Boris Johnson being admitted into intensive care. As it happens, the news media have some footage which indicates just what being in intensive care in the COVID-19 era looks like (i.e. frightening). One is bound to wonder whether the Prime Minister will survive all of this and in any case, he will not be in a fit state to resume office for a period of time probably measured in weeks – if at all. One only hopes that the rest of the political system is sufficiently robust to take the correct decisions and judgment calls that will have to be made in the weeks ahead.