March 24th 2020
I would say it was a beautiful day, but I wake up with such a heaviness over me. The bright, bright sun has a blackness in its light. The outside world, its greenness, its grand display of new life as we face so much death feels a little hostile.
I think of the Triffids. A man coughs violently in the communal garden.
All my life I have feared this, or something like this; I suppose now it’s here I can relax. No more waiting. The horror has arrived. All that is left is to face it. How I wish I could punch it in the face. Kick it. Kill it. My limited krav maga is useless now. (But may still come in handy if we revert to martial law…)
The deaths in Italy and Spain are horrifying. The mortality is so much greater than China, with their populations so much smaller. It makes it all rather hard to believe. It is all so much worse than we feared.
Yesterday I bought myself an orange rose to cheer me up. I wore latex gloves to the shops.
Last night we watched The Wire and for a few minutes I forgot what was going on in the world until I went to bed, setting my alarm for midnight to try and get mum a delivery slot for food. I failed. The site crashed and just showed me an image broken eggs.
Children scream. At lunch I wash a celery stick with soap. I’ve lost it already.
So what do we do now? Do I keep writing? Who for? Will there be books on the other side of all of this? I suppose I, like everyone else, just keep going blindly and hope I find my way in to the light. And that when I get there, everyone else is there too.
Quotes from Withnail and I have been circling my head for days.
“Throw yourself into the road, darling! You haven’t got a chance!”
“Reduced to the state of a bum!”
“You’ve got soup? Why haven’t I got soup?”
Visions of me in a week’s time rubbing myself with deep heat to stay warm and drinking methylated spirits because we’ve run out of red wine. It’s a small step. It’s a thin line, as thin as a stick of celery.
Pent up stress is making me twitchy and weird(er than usual). I go for a run. I have not been for a run since I had a breakdown and ran an ultra marathon 7 years ago — it must have been a breakdown, why else would anyone run an ultra marathon? I now remember why I haven’t run since, running is hard and boring.
But out here nature no longer seems so looming, so vivid. I stand a few feet away from a grey heron and we look into each other’s eyes for a minute or two, until he tires of me and walks back into the dry reeds. The first butterfly of the season flies onto the warm earth by my feet — a peacock butterfly. A new money North London couple call loudly after their dog, they have called it “Camden”. May the Lord preserve us. A carp half a meter long is visible in the lake, then disappears beneath a cloud of mud. Middle-aged men who don’t feel a pandemic is flying close enough to the sun free-wheel down the 90 degree hill, just a small stone and a wheel-spin away from on-coming traffic.
That’s why I love mankind.