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.
Born in 1941, arguably the darkest year of the twentieth century; still going strongly in 2020, unarguably the darkest year of the twenty-first century – thus far. Good on you, Bernard.