We got this! This could be cool!
t, Rural Norfolk
Some confusion here at the start of today, but we have now established it is in fact Saturday today, not Good Friday. We missed that. Goodness how time twists and turns. We seem to be finding a rhythm in our days, finally. We tend to keep to our own spaces, and gravitate together for meal times, and evenings; perhaps a game, a film, or an audiobook. And our daily walk. It’s not at all bad really.
As a way to distract myself from my own worries, I have been busy setting up a little fundraiser with the envelopes I’ve been painting. I’m not a social media celeb, in fact I only started getting to grips with Instagram last year, in exile from the political overload elsewhere. But I hope at least I shall raise more than I have been able to give on my own. The charity I want to support works directly with people who have less than it is easy to comprehend. Through all this horror their team on the ground have not missed a step, and continue to build positive initiatives focussed on dignity for all. I find their work humbling, and my own concerns to be entirely surmountable in the light of what they achieve.
So, a lot of webby techie stuff today. There will be a long brisk walk to recover from that. And then more painting. Not least, I have to keep busy so that I don’t raid the egg stash before tomorrow!
Every day is Sunday
Every day is Sunday...
Breakfast in the herb garden. Big blue Norfolk sky, sunshine, birds busy, the smell of coffee and hot cross buns..
‘It doesn’t feel like Saturday,’ I say, ‘It feels like Sunday.’ Pause. We catch each other’s eye and say in unison, ‘every day feels like Sunday.’
And it’s true. In fact, every day feels like Sunday more than normal Sundays have done for a while. When we first came to Norfolk, Sunday opening of shops was limited; the local Spar might stay open but that was it. One stayed at home or went for a drive to the sea or somewhere one might get tea and cake, or to a pub for pub lunch. Oh, the idea of a pub lunch.
My worry this Easter weekend is that everyone will take time off, even though they are at home. Will there be enough entries for the journal? I send out a few emails to those that might be persuaded to do an extra piece. We are at the three week mark, let’s keep going.. it’s going to be a wonderful archive. Two weeks ago we said don’t contribute every day, just every two days. Let’s lift that restriction ; some, thankfully, ignored it anyway. Write every day if you wish. Twice a day!
Coffee in the Herb garden. And with it some delicious sticky lemon cake made to contributor Susan Neave’s recipe of 4th April. So delicious. I made it this morning, and we ate it warm. I shall make it again and again until the flour runs out.. and it doesn’t need yeast. I recommend it.....all brown sugar and lemon.
Our Herb Garden is crowded out with HUGE box balls, planted twenty five years ago , and not cut often enough. One of them is Bertie’s winter den.He’ll spend hours inside it , then rush into the warm kitchen , shake himself vigorously, and act as if he’s been roaming the cold wet garden for a couple of hours. The great sissy. In the centre of the herb garden is our weathercock, riding over us at ten feet. We never had the means to hoist it up on to the house roof, so it’s a low flying bird ( as cockerels usually are) .
I’m going to drive to the postbox later to post a letter. Exercise for the car and a mild adventure for me.. it only means driving half a mile. And then back to our sanctuary. At the back of my mind, always, those many so deperately less fortunate, lying in their hospital beds, surrounded by the masked and gowned, a science fiction scenario. I’ve always said I’d like to die lying on a chair in my garden surrounded by flowers, a cat on my lap. That seems a great luxury of a wish at the moment.
Words from Wood Lane
Susan Neave, Beverley
Saturday is market day in Beverley, and if we wake early we can hear the distant clatter of the stalls being put up. The usual routine is to go out after breakfast and stock up on fruit and vegetables. There has been a large market here since the Middle Ages, but now the unthinkable has happened – it has been stopped until the present crisis is over. Fortunately the two greengrocers in the town are still open, but yesterday I gave in and decided to buy most of what we needed at the supermarket. The queue was long, but moved quickly, and I barely had time to get stuck into the little ‘Penguin 60s’ book I had with me. Social distancing measures were in place – frustrating at times (how long can the person in front spend contemplating which tomatoes to buy?), but generally worked. The real problem was that I’d offered to get shopping for some friends who can’t go out, which meant a bigger trolley than usual, and one with wonky wheels. It also meant juggling with two lists: my own, organized by the usual route I take round the supermarket, and their list, also in order, just not the same order! A missed item meant repeating the ‘up one aisle and down the next’ process more than once. By the time I’d finished the trolley was so full I could barely steer it to the checkout, let alone down the road to get back to the car park, the only exit now being at the opposite end of the store. Next time I’ll be more sensible and go twice – on separate days of course.
Care in the time of Corona
Shirin Jacob, Ålesund, Norway
It’s påskeaften (Easter evening) and we spend most Saturday mornings listening to Pop quiz followed by P.I.L.S. ( pop music with a little gossip). In lieu of church service this weekend, we listened to the music from Jesus Christ Superstar. We think Jesus will approve given that he is not given to judging.
More bad news in the newspapers as there are slightly more than 103,000 deaths world wide from Corona virus. As my husband pointed out there were more than 405,000 deaths from Malaria in 2018 with children under the age of 5 years and people in Africa (97%) being the hardest hit. In addition, according to WHO more than 9 million people die from hunger and malnutrition yearly, the worst areas again in Africa followed by the Caribbean and Asia. Deaths from Malaria and hunger have yet to affect the NYSE or wipe out every other news from the front pages of every national paper worldwide.
Death and serious illness are devastating for all concerned. I hope the momentum and knowledge that we have gained from this dark time are not lost as we go forwards and recover in the year to come. Let’s keep thinking of how we can help fund and find solutions for these other problems as well.
We are grateful for today and hold hands with all of you. God Påske, dear friends.
Lyrics from You’re the Voice by John Farnham
We have the chance to turn the pages over
We can write what we want to write
We gotta make ends meet, before we get much older
We're all someone's daughter
We're all someone's son
How long can we look at each other
Down the barrel of a gun?
You're the voice, try and understand it
Make a noise and make it clear
We're not gonna sit in silence
We're not gonna live with fear
This time, we know we all can stand together
With the power to be powerful
Believing we can make it better
Ooh, we're all someone's daughter
We're all someone's son
How long can we look at each other
Down the barrel of a gun?
On the Quiet
Stephen, Midhurst, West Sussex
On Maundy Thursday we went to B and Q. They are still open for 'click and contactless collect'. We felt guilty setting off for a shop that couldn’t claim to be essential – 3 tubs of fence and shed paint and a bag of compost, to keep us busy in isolation. The nearest B and Q is at Bognor, so we luxuriated in taking a scenic back route down narrow lanes and up over the Downs at Duncton. (At present I drive as slowly as I can on the rare drives we make, savouring the sight of anything at all!) I pulled over halfway there to phone, as requested , to say we’d be arriving in 15 minutes. The assistant on the phone said that there was a long queue – “it’s relentless”. Cue more guilt. A shirtless man in a horse and cart trotted past, apparently babbling to himself until I realised he had a speaker in his ear, was on the phone. Cue eccentricity.
At B and Q, the operation was actually very efficient. We were directed to a parking space and soon moved to a short line, as if boarding a ferry. From here we could see the modus operandi: customers shouting out their order number, their name and flashing their bank card. Assistants brought out the items in baskets or trolleys and then sprang back. Our assistant was careful to remain behind the tape set up to maintain distance, but another assistant behaved in a more relaxed - normal - fashion and came closer to the driver’s window. I worried about her. But as we drove off, I saw her cleaning off basket handles - so she was attempting some protection. I hope it was enough.
We’re becoming so conscious of breath and touch these days.
Then and Now
Actual evidence I have none,
But my aunt’s charwoman’s sister’s son,
Heard a policeman on his beat
Say to a housemaid in Downing Street,
That he had a brother who had a friend
Who knew when the war was going to end.
Ah, the Rumour Factory and the Bureau of Misinformation. “Careless talk costs lives” was one of the slogans and Fougasse cartoons of that time; I believe Arthur Askey sang about the policeman, though my childhood policeman was “The Laughing Policeman”, whose chortles on the old 78rpm shellac record were backed by the titterings of “The Laughing Curate”. As for politicians, who at times of crisis are on a learning curve as everyone is, the unspoken correction to Fougasse would be “Careless talk costs my job”. But the stonewalling of the daily briefings is not always conducive to feeling that the truth shall make you free. Power will always feel the truth shall make you scared, and that Proverbs got it right — “It is wrong to debate with fools. They do not deserve knowledge or truth”.
In the world of ‘Then’, tales based on Rumour and Misinformation were rife, the natural successors to those Russians seen tramping through England to the Western Front with snow on their boots. And, of course, the two words were elided by government and consciously used to combat defeatism and encourage morale. I remember my mother confidently looking up from the paper and telling my father how many German planes had been shot down compared with our small losses. Well, that one needed later historical correction. In the early stages of that war events like the boarding of the Altmark, and the Navy freeing captive prisoners on board even led to little me chanting the headline: “The Navy’s here !” and feeling the scuttling of the Graf Spee, the German pocket-battleship was a great victory, not a mere incident. We lived on the hope given us by words, which bore, at times, an approximation to the facts. The rumour, or misinformation, or truth — take your choice tells us that after Churchill’s “We shall fight them on the beaches speech, he added the codicil, not for public consumption,: “And we’ll fight them with the butt ends of broken beer bottles because that’s bloody well all we’ve got!”
And now. Can there be a truth-teller in the Daily Briefing ? We know what happened in Plato’s myth of the cave. The one who comes and tells the inhabitants, trapped by a show of shadows, that there is a real world beyond their knowing invites his own destruction. And could there be a truth-teller in our current crisis ? I think of the answer given to “How many nurses have died ?” “That is confidential”, came the reply. And the question: “Are certain ethnic minorities more at risk ?” is being talked round and evaded ? Of course in an unknown and rapidly changing situation, answers have to be, in a sense, provisional and open to correction. But . . . And what should one tell the children ?
The unpalatable truth, or the palatable lie ? There is no answer I can find that will be a universal fit. My parents told me little about the war. Bombers, gunfire and searchlights told me something, in a different language. When the terrible truth of the camps was revealed and the pictures of Belsen appeared in Picture Post, my parents tried to hide the magazines. I was 12 at the time.
I lie there with the word the house won’t say;
The pictures move about inside my head.
I cannot fit the word into the war.
I look down quietly at my striped pajamas
Perhaps my finding the pictures and poring over them was the first time I grew up and realized the war was not my childhood hero, Rockfist Rogan of the R.A.F. Does the truth make one free ? Was the silence of my parents simply another kind of well-intentioned misinformation ?
Pictures by courtesy of the Imperial War Museum