28

April

A Journal of Plague Year - 2020

Tuesday April 28, 2020

I had one of my over-ambitious ideas – re-reading Defoe 'Journal of Plague Year' and Camus 'La Peste', I thought 'I'll do that', using friends world-wide and people on here. Then I realised every writer of note will be jumping on that particular band-wagon. Defoe might have been writing about 1665, but there are so many parallels with the current situation. So I wondered if 'Moodscopers' would take up the challenge – with a view to sharing or publishing when things go back to whatever 'normal' becomes at the end of all this.

I've kept a diary for over 30 years, proved treasure trove. What I suggest is:

1. You write a 'word picture' of your life at the moment of 'shut-down'. Reasonably well-off retirees, good health, second home maybe, long-distance holidays planned. Single parent, working, restricted living accommodation. In a highly 'social' medium, hotel, bar, leisure centre, librarian. Teacher, at any level. 'Stuck' at home, caring for handicapped person of any age, or a parent with dementia. Grand-parents bearing the brunt of caring for grand-children while their children work to pay the mortgage. Serious sports 'person', training for marathon, Olympic Games (my nearest is daughter of a friend in US, selected for their fencing team).

2. You 'assess' your 'loss' at any level, great or small. Daily habits forbidden, seem minor and unimportant to some, but were a desperately needed routine to you. For all, personal contact reduced to phones and the Internet (lots of the world do not have, cannot use the latter). Holidays, again 'minor' in such a great calamity, but will they refund money? Honour the holiday at a later date (presuming the airline/holiday company survives)? I feel most for performers – musicians in major orchestras, already threatened by the economic cost of transporting them round the world. Opera singers, their lives mapped out years ahead. Regular performers of gigs in their own countries. For the young, 'open days' at schools, graduation from Universities. Many will feel in total limbo having 'psyched' themselves up for exams.

3. Daily life. Your fears. Getting food. (My supermarket was well stocked this morning, and a charming security guard marshalling us in, no pushing and shoving at shelves, one at a time at check-out). Actually catching the virus, of course. Real agony, not visiting people in care homes. Here, I feel for all the staff, having watched them care for my husband, and how their load was partially lightened by visitors. Trying not to worry about vulnerable relatives and friends (I have three classified 'vulnerable'). For parents, trying to make your children keep to their 'home learning' programme without the discipline of the school-room atmosphere. In France fear is already being voiced about an increase in domestic violence. People who think they are tolerant and get on well may crack when outside activities/influences are removed. And the most important thing here, and I am NOT being a Jeremiah, is to quickly realise that mental health (never too high on the NHS agenda) is going to go to the bottom of the 'priority' list. So if this 'moves' you, get writing, might be a help?

The Gardener
A Moodscope member.

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