Sunday, 26th April, 2020

[Day 41]

The weather is somewhat ‘on the turn’ today and I know that there is a certain amount of gardening to be done before some showers occur tomorrow and the probability of more prolonged rain on Tuesday. Meg had a slight stomach upset this morning so did not accompany me as is normal on the trip to the park so I enjoyed a solitary sojourn on our normal park bench. The park was fairly busy as parents were dragging their children around the park. I heard more than one 3-4 year old complaining that walking around the park was ‘boring’ and they would prefer to be at home. I won’t tell you how I feel about this as I might be blamed for being an old reactionary! On the way home, some of our oldest friends greeted me and we exchanged news and commiserations about my other friend who is approaching the end of his life.

This morning, I was sort of passively listening to the “Sunday’ programme which is broadcast between 7am-8am on BBC Radio 4. Towards the end of this, I heard one of the most powerful and moving pieces of audio I have heard for decades. A consultant at Wythenshawe Hospital in Manchester, Dr. Mark Tan, was explaining in his ‘Telephone Lament for Coronavirus‘ how he often had to communicate with relatives by phone to discuss the progress made by their loved one in hospital. As his conversations often started with ‘I just called today..’ this reminded one of the famous Stevie Wonder song ‘I just called to say I love you‘ which was played gently in the background to accompany his commentary. Dr. Tan indicated the fragments of conversations that he would have with relatives, explaining the procedures of the hospital and the progress that the patient had been making. The whole piece was incredibly moving and I must confess I was moved to tears by it. If you would like to hear it for yourself, then this is the relevant link:

Telephone lament for Coronavirus

and if you can you need to position the progress meter at about 37.18 on the progress meter. I actually listened to it again immediately after it had been broadcast on BBC iPlayer but it should now be more available and accessible through Google and other search engines. I would urge all the readers of this blog to try to listen to this if you can.

After lunch, it was time to re-commence and try to finish off the big gardening ‘push’ before the weather breaks and I was very pleased to be able to achieve this with about 2 hours hard work (although I feel a little ‘gardening stiff’ after it). It was a very much a ‘hands and knees on a kneeling mat’ job and I was pleased that I managed to reduce the tangle of foliage to something more presentable, having one or two little beech saplings which I re-planted and cursing some of the overgrown holly, ivy and brambles. When I am gardening like this, I am always impressed by the dexterity of the human hand (there is really no substitute) and I always try to ensure that I wear a pair of gardening gloves that have a kind of tacky facing so that I can grip words to extract them more easily. Needless to say, when I had finished one particular section and came up for air to throw some of the weeded material on the compost heap, I observed that my faithful adopted cat, Miggles, was waiting for me patiently along the top. She then accompanied me to the compost heap to make sure everything was correctly thrown away and then had the breakfast that she should have had this morning. Afterwards, my work was duly inspected and Miggles pretended to watch a little hole at the base of a small pile of stones hoping that a mouse would emerge (it didn’t!) Tomorrow, I need to retrieve some two-year compost from my compost bin, rake it in and then leave my daughter-in-law to plant her dahlias for the season (all before the rains come)

The political agenda is now changing before our eyes. I hear that the phrase ‘the new normal’ is being used more and more and I must say that in my numerous little chats with people, everyone seems to know that things will never be the same again and we shall all have to get used to a certain of social distancing perhaps for a year or so to come.