I hope you are well. This is not the usual start to one of these blogs, but these are not usual times.
While it is natural to panic, I try not to because if you are married to a natural panic merchant, having two play that game is unsettling.
But my attempts to stay cool while saying the coronavirus won’t be all that bad have unravelled. I don’t want to join all the amateur epidemiologists lining up to have their say, as that should be left to those who know what they are talking about. But still.
Here are a few snapshots of how our life is unravelling a little, as yours might be too.
We went to a friend’s birthday party on Saturday and only ten of us turned up, as opposed to the 30 or so who usually roll along. The birthday boy enjoyed himself, but later said he was going into self-chosen quarantine: not because there was a problem, just because he’s in his mid-60s and has certain health problems.
An old friend of mine unmet for two or three years cancelled a planned lunch for this week, as he’s in his mid-60s, has asthma and has been advised by his doctor to keep a low social profile.
My long-since separated parents are in their late 80s, so that raises other concerns. My in-laws are in their early 80s and perfectly fine, but still.
One of my brothers is on holiday with his family in Spain and is confided to the hotel balcony. The brother who lives in Hong Kong is seeing his life changed by the coronavirus (students sent home and so on), after seeing it changed by the protests and riots.
Our eldest son and his partner have had to cancel an Easter trip to New York. They’d decided not to go because everywhere in the city was shutting down; and now Trump has banned flights from Britain anyway.
We went to our local bar last night, a small weekly treat. It was pleasantly filled with drinkers and their dogs (it’s a canine-friendly sort of place). Will that bar and all others be forced to close and what will Sunday look like if it does?
I do work for two universities, both still open for now, although others are closing. My office work is being done from home on Friday as an experiment in remote working.
As I said, I try not to worry; but still. What if my works stutters or stops; what if the shop where my wife works is required to shut for a while? We all face such questions, or most of us do.
While not wishing to join those amateur epidemiologists, I do wonder about advising everyone aged 70 and above to stay indoors for their own protection. Some 70-year-olds are fitter than they’ve ever been (one I know a little is still playing squash) and no more at risk than a younger person in poor shape.
But still. These are small ways in which life is being changed, infringed, made worrying. Some people are facing bigger and more tragic difficulties. All we can do is carry on (when that’s allowed) and hope everything turns out OK for those we love.
My mother has started a family WhatsApp group for keeping everyone in touch. I have two more such groups for friends. My phone is pinging all the time, but it’s good to be in touch, especially if you can no longer touch or see.
I try not to worry; but still.