Sunday, 5 July 2020

In the Woods

Either it has been a strange weekend, or the uncertainty of the lockdown is getting to me.

Yesterday was Saturday, and B.A. and I took a short (for us) walk along an old railway line. Our county abounds in old railway lines which are now paved trails and nature reserves. This trail ascended gently through woods, and I saw a figure in army fatigues run into the undergrowth, leaving behind a large bundle.

The bundle moved, and I wondered then if it were a large dog or a person in need of help. When we approached it, I perceived that it had hands and something that looked very much like an assault rifle. In fact, the person lying there was in complete British military camouflage--face paint, fake greenery, the works.

What do you do when Western Civilisation seems to be burning to the ground, and you come across young men in army fatigues and assault rifles during your woodland walk? If you are me, you walk politely by, praying that the guns are fake.

"Is anyone stalking us?" I asked B.A.

"They look about nine or ten years old," said B.A.

Such was the state of My Nerves (long-time readers will recall I got them honestly from my grandmother) that I didn't notice this.

It was gently raining. It rained until we got to the next town, discovered that the Catholic Church is open for personal prayer only 2 hours a week (and that we were too late for both), and enjoyed looking at all the houses and cottages we will choose among when we win the lottery/have an unprecedented pay raise.

I had a wonderfully juicy "I told you so" comment when a large and beefy jolly chap told B.A. (who still had his map in his hands) that he could tell he was taking advantage of our new freedom to travel more than five miles.

We had coffee and millionaire's shortbread with one of B.A.'s pals, who lives in a beautiful house in the town.

When we returned to our own neighbourhood, we bought a small bottle of prosecco to celebrate our annual mortgage overpayment. Perhaps you thought my interest in minimalism was for the aesthetics of it all. Alas, no. While we were celebrating, I printed off the bank statement for June, so as to see how we spend our money. We spend it on food and drink, apparently. Our "ethical carnivore" bill would astound you, so I won't publish it. Jaunts to the famous local ice-cream counter came to £18.55.

Unfortunately, financial thoughts continued to chase each other round and round my head, leaving me utterly unable to sleep. Trying to relax with a Georgette Heyer novel didn't work this time, possibly because it was Faro's Daughter and the plot is all about debts, bribes, gambling losses and a mortgage. There was light in the sky before I fell asleep.

I am sure I am not alone in having a sleepless night over the mortgage. In fact, I think my mother used to lie awake picking at the counterpane thinking about hers 40-odd years ago. Meanwhile, I have received notices from our lender about "mortgage holidays" and when I got on the phone in an attempt to announce our overpayment to a live person, a recorded voice asked me to choose from various options, beginning with "mortgage holiday" requests.  Thanks to minimalism, we ourselves do not want to take a "mortgage holiday," but I feel awful for all those in Britain who have to.

Sleeplessness, the continuing ghastly news from the USA, and thoughts about what new horrors the lockdown will bring all rendered me rather weepy today. What makes the lockdown worse is the lack of consensus among my friends about whether or not it is even necessary. At least one calls the emergency measures the "coronahoax." It's also not great that in Scotland we talk about "Nicola" (the First Minister) as if she were Big Brother or rather, since the remarks are usually derisive, the bogey monster.

What I would really like is to  do now is take a live-in-person holiday. However, I prefer holidays abroad to see family and/or friends to holidays sitting on (as now seems likely) British beaches. Everyday, therefore, I check to see if "Nicola" has relaxed the mandatory two-week quarantine on travellers.


  1. I think to answer the question of whether lockdowns are necessary we only need to look to those areas of the South/West United States that opened up earlier than anywhere else and are now seeing skyrocketing case numbers. It's not pretty.

  2. I suppose the question is how severe the cases are. If China has let the plague cat out of the bag, and there is no vaccine, then the question remains: how seriously must we take it, if we are under 70 and have no health problems. Is it REALLY spread by asymptomatic people? This is a very serious question because the lockdown cure has been worse than the disease in many cases. The flu kills thousands of elderly people every year and yet there is no lockdown for the flu. It makes me very unhappy that I cannot visit my parents for fear of infecting them. I wouldn't mind quarantining with my parents, were it not for the risk of contracting the virus on the plane and giving it to them. I don't want to take that risk because it's been banged into my head that asymptomatic healthy younger people have been killing their elderly relations. But I am not sure that this is true--or true outside Italy because there may be a genetic factor within Italy. The uncertainty is driving me nuts.

  3. I live in one of those southern U.S. states and the media hysteria is not reality. The hospitals here are not overwhelmed, and the new cases are concentrated among 21 year olds! The asymptomatic transmission thing is what scared me early on, too, but that seems to have been greatly exaggerated. I agree that the lpcldown has been horrible and unhealthy in so many ways. I don't knkw what I'd do about visiting my parents if I were in your shoes. Maybe research how many cases are traced to air travel? I'm so sorry you're dealing with this! And such a long deprivation of the sacraments, too!

    1. Yes, I didn't realise how awful the deprivation of the sacraments was until a priest came to our house, heard our confessions on the porch, and then stepped into the hallway to give us the Blessed Sacrament. Then I cried my little heart out. Somewhere deep inside I'm actually a Catholic.

  4. It's worth remembering that many of those who have "health problems" that place them at risk of death/severe coronavirus infections aren't as likely to be killed by commonplace diseases like the flu as those 70+. Many of these "health problems" can be managed so that people with them generally have a normal lifespan. There's a large proportion of the population, at least here in the U.S., who fall into this category.

    As far as seriousness of cases and asymptomatic spread: for what it's worth, a long time neighbor and friend of my sister back in CA (where I grew up) was infected a few weeks back. I believe she is 28. She developed pneumonia and was hospitalized for a couple days. Her case would be termed "mild" according to U.S. guidelines. Although she was being fairly careful, before she knew she was sick she infected her infirm mother (with whom she lives, so unavoidable) and 2 others, 1 of whom had a more serious hospitalization. This is not an example of asymptomatic transmission, strictly speaking, but presymptomatic transmission.

    She was treated with that new steroid used in the UK (thanks, UK!) which seemed to help a lot and is now doing all right (so's her mom.) I think availability and effectiveness of treatment - which includes enough healthy hospital staff - matters also.

    Here in the U.S. it's tempting to generalize about the situation in the whole country, or a specific region (like the Southwest) or a state, but I think that's not very accurate. Conditions vary by metro area and by county.

    My husband has a small business, so we have seen the economic effects of the lockdown, but I believe both it and the orders for mask wearing were very necessary for my state (East Coast U.S.) which seems (I hope) to be past the surge.

    Is there any chance you would be able to isolate for a couple of weeks separately from your parents? I would think that would take care of any exposure on a plane, but that is *a lot* of visit to lose and no fun whatsoever.


    1. I could probably do that, but I'm unsure that I'd want to spend so much time away from B.A. It is a solution though: two weeks working in an Air B&B (for example) and then going to live with my mum and dad. It's certainly an idea.