Tuesday, 7 April 2020

Birthday Bingo

The issues with the days rolling into each other like this are well documented elsewhere. People have helpfully posted information as to what day of the week it is for example. This is in actual fact Holy Week, leading up to Easter Sunday. Palm Sunday, when Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, would usually be marked with the distribution of Palm Crosses (later burnt to create ashes for next Ash Wednesday I believe?) and children parading around the church singing "Hosanna!"

This year we watched on YouTube but of course we didn't watch a service as such. We watched a lovely montage of stories, music and readings from clergy, members of the congregation and children, all in their own self isolated homes. For that is the strange mystery of these days - how every one of us is apart. Aside from those in our immediate household we all remain distanced from everyone. Some of course do not and the wrath of social media has come down heavily on those who continue to congregate in parks and suchlike. Neighbours have called the police to report people next door having visitors, and parks and open spaces have gradually closed. The beautiful towpath just five minutes from us is now closed as it is impossible to keep two metres away from those who live on the boats there.

Writing this blog, and trying to do so on a daily basis, feels like an important thing to do. And I am torn between simply reporting what is happening and trying to make sense of it. Elsewhere I have read pieces where people talk about how the planet needs this time to breathe. How the empty skies are reducing carbon emissions. Pollution is falling. But elsewhere we see the tragedy unfolding in the developing world where overcrowding, only basic (if any) sanitation, restricted access to clean water and inadequate medical facilities mean the rates of sickness and death will be so much greater than here. There are others of course concerned about the longer term impact of the world stopping. For that is truly what it feels like. With the exception of the keyworkers, our respect for whom knows no bounds, every other industry has simply stopped. The heroes of our time are suddenly those living on minimum or low wages.

Shopworkers, refuse collectors, public transport drivers, and of course those working in health and social care are run ragged working long shifts, concerned for their own safety. There is a daily outcry over the lack of PPE, schools are printing 3D protective face masks and a cry has gone out for seamstresses able to make scrubs and uniform bags. It truly feels like a wartime effort.

And yet some of us can only wait. Sat at home I feel so helpless, having originally hoped to keep some semblance of a business running, perhaps to support these keyworkers, that became logistically too complicated. We have staff furloughed, and have applied for a government grant. To stay open for a very minimal income would not be cost effective. And of course it would increase the risks to our own health and that of any customers tempted to leave the house for what are not really essential purchases.

I can of course write, and have spent some time doing so here, on social media and on a business blog. I have been emailing customers and hopefully taking people's mind off the news for five minutes every now and then. Today the news is not to good as Boris Johnson is in intensive care and several members of the government are self isolating. Phrases such as this and social distancing would have meant nothing to us even a few weeks ago but life has changed so much. There's a game of middle class bingo out there in which I scored ridiculously highly. Making a sourdough starter, baking banana bread, drinking gin at 5pm and having virtual drinks with friends are all up there with a big fat tick against them.

And speaking of bingo - that's for another post!

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