As the virus ramps up both in Europe and home in the UK, I take a look at how this is impacting our usual routines.
Panic buying – there are lots of items unavailable now in a lot of Supermarkets.
Toilet rolls, handwash, hand sanitiser, pasta, tins many of these items are being bought in bulk by people planning for self isolation.
Are they right to do this, a lot of us don’t even know we are doing it.
People are going to the shops maybe two or three times a week instead of once a week, picking up an extra item whilst they are there just in case.
Staff that work at the Supermarkets are buying up the hand sanitisers as soon as they come in (that is certainly the case at our local Tesco) the items not even getting on the shelves.
It seems a selfish way to be but surely this is human nature, this is fight or flight kicking in.
We have an in built reaction to look out for ourselves and protect what is ours, i.e ourselves and our family and for the person on the street the only way they feel this can be done is to buy extra items.
This is having the effect of empty shelves and soon a black market will be created as people see a way to make some money off the back of desperate people.
It happens, again this is human nature, it happened in the second world war for nylons, chocolate and other sought after, hard to get items.
Then we called the people selling the items “spivs” not a very flattering title – it literally means “a man, typically a flashy dresser, who makes a living by disreputable dealings.”
Continuing the Dads Army theme Private Walker played by James Beck played the part of a spiv very well selling petrol coupons and foodstuffs to his colleagues.
Nowadays we call them “entrepreneur” and the meaning is no longer about disreputable earnings and all about the financial risks “a person who sets up a business or businesses, taking on financial risks in the hope of profit.”
Where would Richard Branson be today if we didn’t like an entrepreneur.
If you are lucky enough to have hand sanitiser use it sparingly.
However it so important that you wash your hands more frequently than before, think about what you are doing.
Soap is as good as any handwash if not better and washing properly with hot water, in between your fingers for at least 20secs before rinsing.
When I filled my car with petrol yesterday, for the first time ever I used the disposable gloves and paid at the pump.
I put the glove on before I got my card out my purse and touched the screen and disposed of it once I had finished.
I don’t have hand sanitiser but I carry around a bottle of witch hazel and I applied this before I drove off.
This may seem excessive but I don’t think it was, I was on my way to visit my Mum and thought it seemed appropriate.
When I get in from work I have a bar of soap by the sink and I wash my hands.
I apply witch hazel frequently throughout the day and work now have hand sanitizers for the staff to use.
However, how far do we take this hygiene, I started thinking about my letter box and handles on the front door, do I dettol them?
What about car doors, light switches, kettles. Of course these get wiped over frequently but should we now be ramping this up and making it every time the item is touched or used.
It is so hard to know if you are doing it right, all you can do is what seems right for you.
Is it right to postpone, concerts, matches, and travel arrangements?
I believe the time is coming that schools will close too.
This week I have had a concert in Dublin postponed as The Who postponed their UK and Ireland tour.
I was actually relieved it was cancelled, I wasn’t looking forward to being in a concert hall with 13,000 other people not knowing where they had been or recently come back from.
In my opinion, it was the right thing to do.
Unfortunately, it does not look as though we will be able to go on the new date but we shall see, as we await confirmation.
Secondly, we were due to fly out to Cuba at the end of the month but didn’t think it was wise, especially as we were unsure how we would be treated once we landed over there.
Certainly, we would have had our temperatures taken and possibly monitored throughout our visit.
Virgin Atlantic thankfully are allowing transfers of dates without any fee as long as you are back in this country by end of September and thankfully due to our very good and patient travel company, (we delayed once before as the dates we were traveling on were the date our daughter was expecting her first child and it was a good job we did, as she and her partner needed our support) we have got all our original bookings for the new dates for only the price of an admin fee.
We have been lucky, if we couldn’t make the changes we would have had to go, it would have cost too much money not too, then what do you do when you return, to be fair to our family and friends, work colleagues we would have had to self isolate for a week.
Hopefully, by September, this virus will have settled to more manageable proportions.
With regards to sports venues, I am a season ticket holder at Exeter Chiefs and their next home game is Saturday 21st March, currently, it is still on but I am undecided whether I will be going or not.
I will make my mind up on the day, it is outdoors as opposed to indoors in Dublin and the people I sit with are all good friends, not strangers.
The decision may yet be taken out of my hands.
Companies are rallying to make it possible for employees to work from home.
Obviously not everyone can, the Nurses and Doctors in the front line do not have this protection but where possible, where it isn’t essential for the employee to make the journey into work, whether via car, bus or train then it makes sense for them to work from home.
My company swcomms are making similiar arrangements and are looking towards 50% of staff working from home and only staff that are essential to work from the office will be required to attend Head Office the rest will be asked and provided the means to work from home.
This makes total sense to me.
Now on to more pleasant subjects – Books.
I was unsure of what to expect when I ordered this book. It was first published in 1967 and this copy is a reprint from 2008.
I bought the book as I am exploring how to write good poetry and wanted to learn more about styles. In other words, I want to learn my craft.
This isn’t the right book for that, as it doesn’t explore rhyming themes and styles. However, what it has done is made me realise that something worth writing is worth taking time over.
It has made me realise that I do not have to write a poem a day.
I need to explore the object I am writing about and do it justice by slowing down and taking my time and by really studying it whether it is a raindrop, an animal, the Moon, Sunset whatever the subject.
The book is definitely of its era and is actually written for Teachers to include in their lesson plans, it is a charming book which advises teachers on giving out subjects in advance so pupils have time to prepare for their writing and praising their successes not highlighting their downfalls, that seems like common sense to me.
It also demonstrates the imagination that Ted Hughes had; in the book, he advises you that he never knew either of his grandfathers.
In the chapter called Meet my Folks, the title of his collection first published in 1961, he writes about his family, his Sister, Brother, Aunt, and his Grandpa even though he admits he never knew either of them.
Just let your imagination run free and that’s what Ted Hughes does brilliantly in his poem My Grandpa, it is written with fun and humour and although Ted Hughes says “it is easy to invent a relative out of thin air”, I think most of us will agree that we couldn’t do it so vividly describing the owls, their eyes and the conditions that Grandpa keeps them in, finding them in his socks and boots.
The Poem, as they say, is a hoot! I hope you enjoy it.
“It does not matter if you do not have an uncle. In fact, it is probably much easier. If you have no uncle, your imagination feels a positive need to create one. For instance, I have neverknown either of my grandfathers. I have often wondered what they must have been like. How would it be, for instance, if one of them had been a trapper of owls:”
The truth of the matter, the truth of the matter..
As one who supplies us with hats is a Hatter
As one who is known for his growls is a Growler
My grandpa traps owls, yes my grandpa’s an Owler
Though owls, alas, are quite out of fashion,
Grandpa keeps busy about his profession
And hoards every owl that falls to his traps;
“Someday” he says, “they’ll be needed, perhaps.”
“Owls are such sages” he says “I surmise
Listening to Owls could make the world wise”
Nightlong his house is shaken with hoots,
And he wakes to owls in his socks and boots
Owls, owls, nothing but owls,
The most fantastical of fowls;
White owls from the Arctic, black owls from the Tropic.
Some are far-sighted, others myopic.
There are owls on his picture frames, owls on his chairs,
Owls in dozens ranked on his stairs.
Eyes, eyes, rows of their eyes.
Some are big as collie dogs, some are thumb-size.
Deep into Africa, high in Tibet
He travels with his rubber mouse and wiry owl-net;
The rarest of owls, and the very most suspicious
Will pounce on the mouse and be tangled in the meshes
“Whatever you could wish to know, an owl will surely know it,”
My grandpa says proudly, “And how does he show it?”
Sleeping and thinking and sleeping and thinking
Letting a horrible hoot out and winking!”
Lastly, I want to mention the book Japanese Death Poems, compiled and with an introduction by Yoel Hoffman, published by Tuttle Publishing.
This is a dip in and out book, the Poems you would think would be morbid but they are not.
They are short and light, usually about nature or the season they are in.
The Poems are either Haiku or Tanka in nature and there is an introduction that informs the reader about the styles and the culture of writing Death Poems in Japan.
Each Poem is introduced with the name of Zen Monk or Haiku Poet that wrote it and the date of their death.
Some Poems have a long story as an introduction, some are just a short introduction.
In Part One: Introduction; there is a tale of the Genji clan led by Minamoto-no-Yorimasa (1104-1180), who was defeated in battle and wounded in his knee, he decided to take his own life, at first he asked his retainer Tonau to strike off his head.
He summoned his retainer, Tonau, and ordered him to strike off his head but Tonau wept bitterly and refused to do so.
Yorimasa turned to the west, chanted “I put my trust in Amida Buddha” and spoke these words
Like a rotten log
half buried in the ground
my life, which
has not flowered, comes
to this sad end.
Yorimasa then took his own life. Tonau cut off his master's head and sank it in the river, so it would not fall into the enemy's hands.
A fascinating story and this really is a very beautiful book.
Thank you for reading this newsletter.
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However, right now I am off to disinfect my house from top to bottom!