Lifting our sprits

The COVID Diaries – 13   31st March

How do we lift our spirits during the current lock-down?

We find an early morning walk gets the day off to a good start, particularly with the good weather we’ve been having recently. Watching the sun rise over the town is a beautiful sight and it’s fascinating to see the rest of nature get on with life while we human beings are confined to barracks.

Muntjacs, pheasants and hundreds of birds are all in evidence. The absence of cars on the roads and airplanes overhead is changing the balance between humans and the other species on this planet.

Meanwhile the three stray cats that have adopted us seem to rather like having us around in “their” garden.  We’re fortunate in having a large garden, which is now getting much more attention, and helping us stay sane!

One in ten

The COVID Diaries – 12   30th March

9,000 patients are now in hospital with Coronavirus, which represents about 1 in 10 beds in the NHS. Meanwhile 1 in 4 doctors are now off sick.

We are told to expect a letter from the prime minister, who is writing to every home in the country to warn that things will get worse rather than better. We are also told that the current lockdown may last for a “significant” period of time.

When will the crisis be over? What “over” means is uncertain, but the peak is expected to arrive over the next few weeks and nobody really knows what will happen after that.

Six months?

The COVID Diaries – 11   29th March pm

Deputy chief medical office Dr Jenny Harries has warned that the current lockdown could go on for six months, with a return to a normal way of life not happening until the autumn.

The current measures – stopping all non-essential travel, working from home whenever possible and one opportunity for external exercise a day – will not impact immediately. Even when the spread of the coronavirus has been slowed, it will be a gradual process to lift the restrictions and ease the social distancing measures.

We’re in for the long haul.

A very different Sunday

The COVID diaries – 10      29th March am

This morning would normally be a routine of up early, preparing to lead worship at or attend worship at a United Reformed Church and then share fellowship over coffee afterwards.

But today things are very different. No congregations are gathering and, just at the moment when many churches want to reach out and help people, their doors have to remain closed.

Many are finding new ways to communicate, be it by live streaming services or posting material on their websites. Sadly, for some this cannot be accessed.

If all else fails, the BBC are still broadcasting morning worship and songs of praise – so hopefully this will fill the gap.

Do as I say, not as I do

The COVID diaries – 9     27th March

Many have commented that Boris Johnson’s approach to social separation has been half hearted at best, and confused by conflicting messages from different parts of government.

It is terribly clear from experience in other countries such as Italy and France that if strict measures are not introduced quickly enough, then ever stricter measures have to follow. The consequence is higher rates of infection and a greater number of deaths.

Watching government press conferences and members of the cabinet in close proximity to each other on the front benches in the House of Commons, it has been clear that they have not been practising what they preach.

Today we have seen the inevitable consequence of this. The Prime Minister and Health Secretary have both tested positive for the Coronavirus. At least this demonstrates the consequences of not following their advice.

A round of applause

The COVID diaries – 8    26th March

There was a great atmosphere on our road when we joined in the national call to applaud the coronavirus NHS workers at 8pm. A time to show our gratitude for all they are doing and also to wave to some neighbours we haven’t seen for several days.

It had a special significance for us as my wife’s niece is working in a hospital in Liverpool. They are so short of personal protection equipment that they have to share face masks and wash them between users. These doctors, nurses and other NHS staff are the frontline, coping with the pressure of growing numbers needing to be hospitalised. Applauding them is the least we can do.


No-one is immune

The COVID diaries – 7   25th March

So Prince Charles has the corona virus, demonstrating that no-one is immune in this crisis.

Meanwhile a massive catch-up operation is underway to try and get the NHS ready for what is to come. The Excel centre in Docklands is being converted into a giant hospital and orders are being placed, rather belatedly, for new ventilators to support those who are expected to become critically ill.

On the home front its been an interesting day, starting with a very early walk and finishing with hosting my first ever virtual Board member. Odd not to be sitting in the room together, but we had 100% attendance!

Send in the clowns

The COVID diaries – 6   24th March

With Boris Johnson finally taking the Coronavirus crisis seriously, I suppose it was inevitable that some other clowns would emerge to undermine the efforts being made to cope with the crisis.

Tim Martin, the millionaire owner of the Wetherspoons pub chain, had some unhelpful things to say about his staff and how they should now get jobs at Tesco. He appears to have no intention of paying them until his company is paid the wage subsidy promised by government. A stark contrast to Costa who say they are keeping their staff on the books.

Mike Ashley, owner of Sports Direct, seems to have thought it would be a clever idea to claim that his Sports Direct shops  were a vital asset because they sell sports equipment. His plans to stay open fell apart rather quickly following the backlash that followed his selfish approach.

On the working from home front, it’s been a busy day holding virtual meetings making sure we’re still providing our vulnerable customers with the services tey need. It’s great to see the dedication of our senior managers as we chart our way through very challenging times.


The COVID diaries – 5   23rd March

Drove to the office today. Probably the last time I’ll go there for sometime. We set up homeworking for most staff last week. But now, finally, Boris Johnson has confined nearly all of us to barracks!

Many experts think he should have done this already, but hopefully this will still help contain the epidemic and save lives.

A strange mothers’ day

The COVID diaries – 4   22nd March

So, a mothers’ day when mothers shouldn’t be visited. Such is the strange and worrying world we live in. Thanks to Skype, we shared some quality time with our three sons and celebrated in a different way. Much to our surprise, one of them even managed to send some flowers courtesy of Marks & Spencer (we were surprised they were delivering!).

But, although the sun was out today, the storm clouds are gathering.  Huge numbers visited public open spaces, with Snowdonia seeing record numbers, seemingly oblivious to the need to avoid contact.

The news from Italy and Spain is not good, and in Germany groups of more than two in public are now being banned.

We can see what the future holds.