Coronavirus diary week 6 - 27th April to 2nd May
A strange week on the political front: Boris Johnson returns to work after coronavirus. His fiancée has their first child, a baby boy. Official figures this week begin to include deaths in care homes and deaths now stand at 27,510 since the beginning of the outbreak. There is much noise in the media about how we in the UK compare with other countries in Europe but it seems very difficult to be sure that we are not comparing apples and pears. Reaching back into the skills required by my professional life, I am pretty sure that the reliable measure will be what is known as "excess deaths" which seems to be an internationally recognised concept calculated in the same way across most countries. So we shall see as the figures emerge. What does seem likely is that deaths from coronavirus in the UK will be high.
There also begins to be more pressure from the media for more detail as to the way out of lockdown and it looks as though some guidance from government might come towards the end of the week. The damage to the economy looks huge and on a national scale we clearly need to try to find a way to get out of lockdown. Yet the counterbalance is a fear of a second wave of infections. In a completely unscientific and anecdotal way (maybe this is just the opinion of my social group!) I find that talking to friends and family, despite the challenges of living in lockdown, there is real fear that too early a relaxation will put us back to where we were a few weeks ago with the virus spreading at speed. So hard to know. I watch the daily press conference and journalists pushing unanswerable questions and think how hard it is for people to acknowledge that we don't know. We want there to be answers. We want somebody to be responsible and to get things right. We want to be able to apportion blame. In my view, while there may be analysis to be done and lessons to be learned in the future, it seems to be that right now we are all, including governments and scientists, feeling our way.
Here at home it has been a cooler and wetter week. When I find myself spending more time inside it makes me realise how much pleasure and comfort I had been taking in the world outside my windows. We walk up the hill for our exercise and I try to take photos of lambs for the grandchildren. There are bluebells in bloom by the track and stitchwort and jack - by - the - hedge. The cow parsley is beginning to come into flower and everywhere the trees are green with that intense new green where, just for a week or two, you understand that green is many colours. In the garden there are birds everywhere. The swallows are whizzing in and out of the stone pigsty setting up home again. Two pied wagtails strut their stuff on the bakehouse roof. Goldfinches flutter by the stone wall outside my window.
This has always been my absolute favourite time of year. If I concentrate on wild flowers and bird life and the roses coming out in the garden I can distract myself from the ache of wanting to hold my favourite people. Facetime and Zoom and all the technology are great, and where would we be without them, but I feel intense sympathy with a five year old grandson who, when his father called him to come and talk to grandma and grandpa, was half way down the stairs when he stopped and said suspiciously "Are they really here?" "No," said his Dad. "It's facetime." "I don't want that, " said Ted, stomping back upstairs. "I want it really." Don't we all Ted, don't we all.
The best lift of the week came from the look on the face of Captain Tom, whose fundraising for the NHS has now passed a mind boggling £30m, when the RAF arranged a flypast of Spitfires for his 100th birthday. It is easy to be cynical about much of the news but sometimes you have to recognise simple goodness.
So there we are, living in the new normal. Is it fine? Of course it is because it has to be, except for the ways in which it isn't, which I can do nothing about. So it is a bit of tweaking of the formula, a bit more Welsh, a bit more running, a glass of wine or two fewer
to stop it running away with me. A bit more watching the birds. A bit more watching the spring moving through the valley.
Where are you up to? Is it changing for you as the weeks go on? I hope you are safe and well.