I reckon I’m lucky. I can work at home, with no children to care for: I’d like to, but oldies are banned from our traditional role of looking after grandchildren; with kind neighbours and Tescos bringing me essential supplies; lots of books to read and ‘saved’ telly to watch; and the possibility of ‘virtual’ socialising via the internet. I dearly miss Kajsa, stuck over in Stockholm: if we’re going to die it would be nice to do it together; but I’ve never been a naturally gregarious person, and don’t much mind loneliness. I must say I’m scared by the news coming out of Italy, but at the age of 79 I reckon I’m nearing the end of my time anyway. And there are things to enjoy: like politics, thrown into disarray by the sudden conversion of the neo-liberal party to Crisis Corbynism, and the entertaining – in a ‘gallows’ kind of way – inanities of Trump and Johnson. Beyond that, no-one can predict.
That all sounds very selfish, and is; but it doesn’t stop my deep empathy for those who are less lucky than I am, and my admiration for those on the front line of the ‘battle’ against the Coronavirus: doctors, nurses, ancillary medical staff, my Tesco delivery drivers, parents of school-age children, and Gove’s much-maligned ‘experts’ in this field.
I’ve stopped listening to the BBC World Service at night – my usual way of trying to get to sleep, but too disturbing now – and started playing music instead. Last night it was a video of Gluck’s Orpheus and Euridice, in the 1859 version made by Berlioz. In fact I think I may play that every night from now on; the most beautiful music, expressing perfectly the sweet sorrow of the death we all need to prepare ourselves for at this moment.