Day 18

April 16, 2020

Sunday lie in.  Lovely.  

My husband then wanted to watch 'The Lord of The Rings' trilogy so we all sat on the settee watching the destruction of trees as the land fell to furnace and war...  'Somehow' I get the feeling that Tolkein feared an age where nature was destroyed and man did nothing, failed to stand up and be counted, failed to recognise or celebrate a connection to the land, or each other.  Yet here we are witnessing the reality of the connection we have to each other, and to the earth - it's a pity it takes a crisis, a pandemic, to get us interested ... and even now some fail to see it, honour it...

 

"I am here to announce that Her Majesty The Queen will be broadcasting to the nation at 8pm this evening...", a voice suddenly clamoured from outside our house.  As one we literally rose up in to the air and off the settee, landing in various states of disarray, as a figure loomed in to view at the window.  The person wore a cap, tweed fitted jacket with a very old looking Union Jack wrapped around them, jodhpurs and boots and proceeded to yell while knocking on the window with a wooden spoon and then banging a metal saucepan with said spoon.  My first thought, as our dog flew past me, in the opposite direction to the vision at the window, and hid in the kitchen, was, incredulously, 'is it Poppy Day?'  Fast on the heels of me dismissing this likelihood was my second desperate attempt to make sense of things, 'is this person taking the mick coming door to door to sell saucepans while we are all in social isolation?'  For some reason I followed this up with thought number three, 'OMG we have to evacuate and I'm still in my nightie...'.

 

The figure then stopped banging the drum to yell, "I also wish to announce it is my grandson's 13th birthday...", to our three faces, which,by this time, were pressed against the window pane in total bewilderment (and panic I can honestly add now).  "Oh, it's my friend's Gran...", our son exclaimed with a huge sigh of relief.  I take a closer look at the figure on our drive as our neighbour's head peers over the garden wall and I can see lots of emotions chasing across her face, alarm, concern, curiosity, dread, all vying for her attention and pole position - curiosity wins.  I wave at the be-flagged (not sure that is a real word...) figure, who then departs while (loudly) wishing us all well.  I gingerly open the front door and reassure our neighbour, from over 6ft away, that I did know the person concerned and she had walked to do the same kind of thing as a birthday treat for her grandson, our son's friend, and and then included us in an encore on her stroll back home.  "She 'does' Queen Victoria you know, professionally, acts and all that, I play her lady-in-waiting sometimes", I offer, shout, lamely.  "Ah", nods my neighbour, apparently making sense of my explanation and understanding the ways of the dramatically inclined, especially those that have been in social isolation for two weeks now...

 

Just then our son receives a text from said friend telling him he has had an airsoft pistol for his birthday.  Really...  And here my mind plays with all the differing scenarios in which my son's friend having  a gun of any kind is a good (safe) idea).  Nothing crops up though.  "It look great mum, I think I might want one...".  Now my mind does the same search again, only with my son in the frame.  No, still nothing.  There are no scenarios in which either of them with a gun is a good (safe) idea...

 

We decide to go for our daily walk - my husband wonders if this will be the next thing to be legislated against as people fail to understand the role of social isolation.  Indeed Matt Hancock speaks today of this understanding, and this doing, being 'mission critical'.  In the UK we have had 4,934 deaths now, rising by 621 from yesterday, the U.S. has had 9,302, Spain 12,418, Italy 15,889, and our Prime Minister is now in hospital as his Coronavirus symptoms fail to dissipate 10 days after testing positive.  I am thinking about all of this as I realise there seems to be more birds around, a wren on the smallest, thinnest, most spindly branch, in the tree, and a robin lets us see his proud red chest.  I also hear more bird song during the day and especially in the morning - the thought comforts me.  We watch the lambs in the field eye us with interest while their mother's look at us cautiously and then move their babies futher up the field, away from us...  I revel in the sunshine and the warm wind, as it blows it seems to carry a hopeful message as it plays in the fields and throws the dust up in the lanes in front of us.  It hints at a positive energy and I feel buoyed somehow, reassured.  I feel free from worry for a while as I savour the warmth of the sunshine and the wind.  Happy not to feel cold and under attack from rain or chilly winds.  This is a friendly wind and she is welcome.  It is how I imagine a sorrocco to feel, there is a heat in it's touch, a pleasant caress which surprises and delights...

 

We watch the Queen's speech at 8pm and it seems to be a rallying call, asking the nation to be mindful, that we can perhaps use this time to 'slow down', 'pause', 'reflect'.  She reminds us of tough times we have weathered before - 'painful separations' during WW2 when we evacuated the children to the countryside, but however painful the choices 'they had been the right thing to do'.  Just like now, our determination to endure social isolation so we can protect each other.  She highlights to us that this time however we undertake a 'common endeavour' and coupled with 'our instinctive passion to heal', the world is fighting this as one, and how resilience would see us cope with these challenging times, these '...attributes of self-discipline, of quiet good-humoured resolve, and of fellow feeling...'.  

 

On hearing the speech this evening I instantly take two things away with me.  One was the Queen saying directly to us as a nation that she hoped people would be able, in retrospect, to, 'take pride in how they responded to this challenge..', and two how she thanked those working 'selflessly... to support us all...'.  I am sure people will study this speech in years to come and ask what it was meant to do and why they thought it was needed - in this moment though, and in the Queen's words, I think it was there to offer us hope that '...if we remain united and resolute, then we will overcome it..'.  I wonder if history will say we did her, and ourselves, proud?

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