Ok people no need for any more anxiety about this virus killing off the planet. There just might be an escape route. Apparently as reported in the Sun – my go to newspaper – “Experts suspect that aliens are living in underground tunnels on Mars formed by Lava Billions of years ago.” And despite Mars being about 33 million miles away and cosmic radiation making its surface inhospitable, it is hoped humans will one day be able to colonise the lava caves on Mars and the Moon. Pascal Leem, a planetary researcher at NASA Ames Research Centre in California, said “On Mars and other places, lava tubes have the potential to have made the difference between life and death.” So maybe not in my life time but my great grandchildren!!!
This sodding virus has crept into all our conversations, our consciousness and even our dreams. I can’t remember the last time I called someone when the virus wasn’t mentioned and I almost cannot remember what my life was like pre last March. Makes me wonder what we talked about before this – ahh yes Brexit.
Last night at 2 am when I finally gave up trying to get to sleep, I picked up the journalist Karoline Kan’s book Under Red Skies. She was born in 1989 the year of The Tiananmen Square massacre. Fascinating nonfiction account of what her life was like growing up in a society beset by poverty and political unrest. But what was most striking was her account of the Sars epidemic
“… it was spreading throughout China and killing people but without the governments formal confirmation that it was a deadly epidemic most people dismissed it as a rumour. We worried about it a lot because it was said that you could catch the disease by talking to somebody who was infected and then get a fever and cough your muscles ached and your immune system would break down in days. Many felt it was natures revenge on the Kwando people because they were believed to be savages who ate wild animals like snakes and monkeys. …… …. every family scrambled to the shops for vinegar which was thought would help protect you from the disease. The streets were empty as people wanted to avoid crowds and infection……. What scares me most was not the disease itself, but the horrid atmosphere created by the disease which felt like an invisible monster lurking in the shade that could jump out to eat me at any time.”
Reminiscent of the scene in the UK back at the beginning of COVID19.
At the weekend I left my compound and visited a couple of close friends for dinner in their garden. It was just 3 of us but I needed to prepare; disposable gloves in case I needed the toilet, anti-bacterial hand wash, antibacterial wipes, a mask and some Dutch courage as it was my first outing since the beginning of March. Maybe a bit OTT. Took me back to the days of leaving the house with a baby and all that entailed. Remember thinking gone are the days when I can instantaneously get up and go. What’s more as I had nothing to take because my online grocery order wasn’t due for a few days I made some lemonade which proceeded to spill all over the passenger seat in the car which is now a sticky mess. But it was worth it to have a short injection of semi normality in my life and spend time with very close friends.
I feel much more anxious now we are opening up because I have to make choices. Before when we were locked down it was easy. We were all in the same boat. Now I have to weigh stuff up risk versus necessity versus sanity. Moreover, I am the most careful out of all of my friends because I am the only one with an immune issue. And I do feel a certain amount of pressure to be a bit more relaxed and maybe they have a point. The virus has made some of us more defensive and judgmental. Either because we are taking social distancing less seriously or because we are taking it too seriously.
I am not alone in my anxiety about society ‘opening up’ others I have spoken to are also finding the decisions difficult. Do we accept a dinner invitation? How many people will be there? How big is their table? What if it rains and we can’t eat outside? Where have the people who are inviting us been? How safe are they? Can I eat in a restaurant where they are not wearing masks etc etc. It’s not easy.
But what gives me a lot of hope is that while our world has shrunk the virus has unleashed a resurgence of community spirit. People seem genuinely much nicer, they talk, they smile at you and there is a real sense that they care. I have chatted with strangers in my local park who have now become regular social distance buddies. I know about their lives, their friends, their work, their dogs and their worries. We have shared stuff that I would not have done before COVID19. Conversations end with “you take care” or “stay safe”.
The Isolation Economy research revealed back in June that two-thirds (64 per cent) of UK adults feel their communities have ‘come together to help each other’ during the crisis. This includes extending financial support to local businesses, with 60 per cent plan to buy more goods from local stores in a bid to help local economies following the lockdown. Nigel Wilson, Legal & General chief executive, said: “Being more isolated has made us also more inclusive.”
According to the Isolation Economy study, one in every five UK adults (19 per cent) has volunteered their time for community-level activities or organisations since the start of the lockdown on March 23. This includes nearly a quarter (23 per cent) of furloughed workers.
So ending on this positive not meet Michael 91 and his wife Gillian 88 who both walked out of a Leicester hospital last week after recovering from COVID19 following a three-week stay in the hospital. Each morning Mr England would get himself dressed before the therapist arrived so that when he needed to exercise, he could walk to his wife’s bedside. And there, awake and awaiting his arrival would be his wife ready for their daily cup of tea together. Mr England said, “while I’ve been in hospital, I’ve not really missed anything because Gillian is here, and I have been able to see her every day.”
“Let’s be careful out there”