Journal of the Plague Months: Chapter 2
Wednesday April 1st
Left a tray for Catrin with all the usual on and some tissues. I did wonder if she only has a cold or if it is CV. But she has no breathing problems, and doesn’t seem to have a temperature. She is being sick.
As I was due to go for a hearing check at the doctor’s, walked up to the health centre. The appointment was at 10 am, and I got there for 9.45, feeling quite pleased I’d done my bit for the environment by walking.
Lots of confused people standing around the main doors, which were locked. We could see people at the desk, but nobody took any notice of us.
We walked around the building and eventually found a small door. It had a notice on it asking us to ring if you had an appointment, so I did.
It was answered by a man in what I suppose is Personal Protective Equipment, or PPE. It’s one of those new terms I’ve learnt, like social distancing or herd immunity.
He reared back in horror when he saw us standing there.
“Don’t come any closer!”
I suppose it was like this in the times of the Great Plague and the Black Death and so on.
We shuffled along in a queue. When I got to the top, he stood some distance from me. I explained about my clinic, and he said all clinics had been cancelled till further notice, and I should have had a text or call.
Thursday April 2nd
John had to take a bucket up to Catrin as she is being sick. I’m not sure that sickness is a symptom of CV.
I decided that she needed a doctor, and maybe she would get a home visit from somebody in full PPE. I called and to my surprise they answered straight away, but took our phone number and said it would be a telephone consultation only. I said in that case they needed her mobile number as she is in bed.
The doctor did ring within an hour, and diagnosed gastroenteritis. She prescribed something which she said would go straight to the chemist.
In the meantime, I have her a Lemsip and paracetamol as she is still streaming.
John went for it later. He had to queue at the chemist’s; they went in two at a time. I asked him to get paracetamol. It wasn’t on display; they got it from under the counter and said it was being rationed to one pack per person. Well, we haven’t got formal rationing but people are fighting in supermarkets over soap, handwash and loo rolls.
Friday April 3rd
Catrin a bit better today. She drank a cup of tea and ate some grapes.
John thinks we need to switch to home delivery of food as she has been ill while here. In fact, the milkman can deliver much of what we need. I called in at the vegetable shop, the butcher and the health shop on the High St, and they agreed to deliver also; you order over the phone and pay by card, and they leave it on the doorstep. None of them charged for delivery, and it was all on the day of order. Liz was in a queue for a supermarket, and it was a three week wait for delivery.
I wondered very much how older people who don’t use the Internet are managing. There was something in the free newspaper about the Council setting up a phone befriending service for older people, and council staff working from home will deliver supplies. Also that our local food banks are now making home deliveries, and very busy. I thought I should really do some form of volunteering.
On facebook, the nice deli I use in Colwyn Bay was also offering to do home delivery.
None of these places charged for delivery. I have always used them and will continue to do so after all this is over.
Saturday April 4th
Catrin had some toast for breakfast, and soup for lunch, and ate plenty of grapes. She thinks she may go home.
I did our telephone order for home deliveries. They ring the bell when they come, and leave your order on the doorstep. It’s lovely bringing the boxes into the kitchen and sorting through them. I had a fruit, salad and vegetable delivery from the milkman and it’s all fresh and local.
Went on a walk down to the beach. Sat on a bench looking at the sea on the coastal path. It was a beautiful day, blue sky, blue sea, seagulls calling, cyclists whizzing down the cycle path. Everybody who passed me did cross to the other side of the path.
I suppose our lives are indeed like those who went through the war, a huge cataclysmic change in everyday life. Mom used to talk about this; Dad was evacuated and didn’t think much of it.
But it’s different in some respects. Mom still went out to work every day, even though Birmingham was being blitzed (and she said they never went to the air raid shelters, just carried on working). She was in the midst of all her family, apart from Grandad, who never came back from Dunkirk. And she did go out every night, usually to the pictures or the youth club. Whereas we have nowhere to go.
When I got home, Catrin was well enough to have dinner, and said she is going back to the flat. John’s main complaint was about getting cat food and cat litter for the cats; it’s something our deliveries don’t cover.
Sunday April 5th
Catrin went home.
We had tickets for the film Emma on the day lockdown started and a play at the local theatre. John tried to contact the box offices but had an out of the office reply.
It is sad to think of all the cinemas and theatres being closed, and I wonder how many will re-open. Or shops, cafes, restaurants. Or if life will ever be normal again. People are talking now about the New Normal.
Mom used to say that in 1945, there was a sense of optimism in with a new government, the end of the war, the welfare state to look forward to, Birmingham to be re-built. But I don’t feel like that. I don’t feel optimistic about the situation we are in. And I really worry about the jobs situation. 1000s of job losses are announced daily on the BBC. And there may not be much for them to go back to. I’m close to retirement; what a sad time to be a young person.
Monday April 6th
Worked from home, on shared documents on the Google Drive. I’ve been at work forty years, and it’s odd how things have changed. We’re also doing an on line enquiry service for staff and students, and of course they’ve got access to e books.
Having read all my library books, I registered for the online books download service, although I struggled with the software.
Liz called later, or rather did something called Face Time, which she had to explain to me. It was nice to see her, although the phone screen is quite small.
She explained that she has been furloughed - understandably, it’s not thought that the catering staff can work from home.
My eldest nephew is working from home, as he’s in computers. The youngest works for Macdonald’s and is furloughed. The middle one works at the Welsh Mountain Zoo, and he’s in, because of course animals have to be looked after. She said the Zoo is worried about their future financially though. I promised to make a donation.
It was announced on TV that Boris Johnson had gone into hospital. It was difficult to care.
Tuesday April 7th
We had a staff meeting via Google Meet, something else I’ve had to master. Really, I would have liked to retire when I was sixty, but of course I didn’t get my pension. I just feel that things are passing me by now - I’ve reached the end of my learning curve, and don’t want to learn any more about ICT.
Although it is nice to email friends, which I did in the evening. Felt tired and went to bed early. Missed out on my walk.
Weds April 8th
Awoke with a bit of a sniffle and was glad that I was not working from home. I have now finished until after Easter, and was relieved about that.
Didn’t feel like coffee, and drank tea all day. Felt listless, as I always do with a cold, and did not go for a walk.
Had soup for dinner, and drank orange juice - sort of comfort food.
More sad news about shops, pubs and restaurants going into administration, which will never open again. And some bosses of course are taking advantage of the furlough scheme to lay staff off. All that money they took off us when times were good, and then they weren’t there for us when times were bad. Rather like those who profited from the war.
Boris Johnson was moved into intensive care. If the privatisation of the health service continues, he’ll know what it is like to have to pay for this.
Thursday April 9th
Couldn’t be bothered to get up today. Stayed in bed and listened to the radio and read. I wasn’t very hungry - ate mainly toast and soup. Was thirsty though.
Friday April 10th
Good Friday, and the deli included Hot Cross Buns in our home delivery. I did eat one with lots of butter on, so I’m hoping I’ve turned the corner. Still very thirsty and drank lots of orange juice. Which soon came up.
Saturday April 11th
I’d bought John and Catrin some chocolate from the Fairtrade shop before everything closed down, so John popped round with Catrin’s and left it on the step.
Because of her heart, she is now ‘shielding.’ It’s one of the new phrases we have had to learn, like lockdown, social distancing, and New Normal.
Sunday April 12th: Easter Sunday
Did not feel hungry at all, though John fetched me some grapes, and then ended up eating most of them himself. I was sick after I drank some milk. I have gone off tea and coffee completely.