Wednesday, 18 March 2020


It's remarkable how much the CV scare has altered the soundscape in this corner of suburbia – for the better. The background hum of traffic has died down almost to silence; overflying planes are few and far between; and, with fewer people out and about, the level of human hubbub is way down, almost to nothing. This is what the world sounded like in my boyhood, except that back then there was a good deal more of the human hubbub, as more people were out and about, walking rather than driving. Walking, talking, and indeed whistling, that now rare suburban sound.
  This return to an unfamiliar level of peace and quiet is very welcome. And, for those of us under orders to 'self-isolate', there are undoubted compensations in being obliged to spend more time at home and less out and about and socialising. Our 'to do' lists should dwindle as we finally get down to long deferred tasks, and for anyone who loves reading – and writing – this extra time is a boon, a chance to catch up on both, with fewer distractions. The same goes for listening to music – and, thanks to digital technology, we have all the music (and, if you can bear reading online, books) we could ever want, available to us at virtually no expense of effort or money. If we're going to be housebound, we live in the best possible times for such an ordeal.
  Outside, there's an encouraging sense that all this is to some extent building community spirit and a new awareness of the needs of our neighbours. Let's hope that will continue to develop. Meanwhile, however, the panic buyers seem only to be gaining strength. My local Sainsbury's this morning resembled a Soviet-era supermarket, with little left on the shelves. The toilet-paper hoarders are back in action, and, having stripped the shelves of tinned, packeted and frozen foods, the panickers have moved on to breakfast cereal (all gone) and even fresh fruit and vegetables. The madness continues – and I fear the supermarket's new policy of opening early especially for the over-70s has only made matters worse. Oldsters can be formidable shelf-strippers. One thing's for sure: I'm not going to be hauling myself out of bed at 6 in the morning to join them in their endeavours.
  Today's butterfly first: a Comma, basking sleepily by a (suburban) footpath.


  1. “One thing's for sure: I'm not going to be hauling myself out of bed at 6 in the morning to join them in their endeavours”: Very wise. I stupidly ventured down to the shop at 6.30 this morning, because I woke early & had allowed myself to get frightened about getting the virus & thought going early would mean the place was empty. I’d read that this virus is enormously contagious/infectious & that if you take pills for blood pressure (I do) & contract the illness you might as well call in the priest, because the pills interact badly with it, (as do aspirin, disprin, ibuprofen - yes, I’ve become an armchair expert aka hypochondriac). Anyway, the shop was packed with other hypochondriacs, so I didn’t avoid possible infection.

    I’m finding the handling of the problem puzzling though. The danger this virus poses is almost entirely limited to people over 60 (that includes me). Given this, I don’t understand why absolutely everyone has to stop everything, & all entertainment, restaurants etc have to close - why not confine, forcibly if necessary, all those over 60 - or suffering from diabetes or whatever - to barracks? Why dismantle everyone’s life in order to avoid being discriminatory to those who really do need to be quarantined?

  2. I don't understand either Zoe – it all seems wildly excessive, as if we're dealing with bubonic plague, not a nasty variant of flu. And opening supermarkets early just seems to have encouraged panic buying. No pubs? No restaurants? No cafes? It's crazy.

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