This too shall pass and other passing observations about staying in…

The words jumped out at me from beneath a rainbow painted by a child – “This too shall pass.”

I was running and those four words trotted along for a while. They have a biblical cadence, I thought, a good short sentence. The keystone is the placement of ‘too’, I thought (pant, pant).

Try the same four words with ‘too’ at the end and nothing really works: ‘This shall pass too’ has the stresses all wrong. That arrangement also raises a comma conundrum: do we get fussy and include one after ‘pass’? By the time you’ve pondered all that, a lovely phrase has curled up and died (pant, pant).

Back home and sweaty, I turned to Google. Turns out the phrase is not biblical but thought to be an old Persian adage.

It’s a noble sentiment and better than, say, all this shit will be over one day, won’t it, with the virus gone and that orange virus in the White House gone too, along with other shitty things?

Those rainbows displayed in house windows provide something cheerful for children to do. At least our three are grown up, so we don’t have to worry about home schooling. On social media you will find many amusing posts on this theme, and one or two outright rants about the impossibility of teaching your own children at home.

Painting rainbows only goes so far.

With much to feel unsettled about, it’s good to find comfort in words, even four simple words that are probably a terrible cliche by now.

Not going out is weird. Those runs and a weekly shop are my outings. Oh, and I drove into town to pick my wife up after she’d had a long day at work. The following day in York police were stopping drivers and asking them why they were out in their cars.

Also castigated by the police have been walkers in the countryside. Is this the right approach? Those walkers are breathing fresh air and generally keep a distance from others. Surely a case of over-policing, but these restrictions are swallowed for now.

Anyway, we can at least walk from our front door to those edge-lands where town and country meet, or head into the emptied streets of York.

Last night we opened a bedroom window, as others in this road out of town did, and soon everyone was clapping their support for the NHS. It was strangely moving. A cynical quip inserted here about the Tories and the NHS has been removed, as Boris Johnson now has the virus and needs our best wishes (not something said often around here).

Also, last night we did a virtual pub quiz on Instagram. All very enjoyable even if we did only tolerably well. There were four of us on team sofa, as our daughter’s boyfriend joined in remotely, helping on screen.

This too shall pass, and he’ll be allowed in the house again and we’ll be allowed back in the bar where the pub quiz wasn’t taking place.

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