We are living in the future, though not the flying car wonderland of my boyhood comic books but a frightening, dystopian nightmare, more akin to a Quatermass style drama than any crystal towered, utopian dreamworld.
The Coronavirus crisis has brought home how fragile human life can be when confronted with something so unknown and insidious.
That a tiny virus, invisble to the human eye, can bring the world to a near standstill is both astonishing and deeply worrying.
Emiko and I are in the ‘most at risk’ category. We’re both in our 70s and I have diabetes, (and other health issues,) which makes me extra vulnerable.
We’ve continued to try and go about our usual life these last few weeks but it’s become increasingly apparent that this is now not possible. So, from today, we are going to self-isolate.
One of my concerns around this is that I can no longer go to visit my mother and will have to hope that her care workers can continue to provide the high standard of service they have given her since she returned home after being hospitalised for several months.
She’s doing ok, considering. Her mobility is much better now than it was, though nowhere as good as it was before her illness...but it’s wonderful to see her being able to stand and walk around the room, albeit with the help of her Zimmer frame and the careful eye of her carers, or one of her family.
But, because of this Coronovirus emergency, the family now, unfortunately, needs to keep as much distance from mum as is possible to avoid any potential contamination.
My nephew Julian and his wife Lyndsey have been an enormous help, liasing with the care workers and dealing with minor emergencies as they have arisen. Emi and I live some distance from Wakefield and it isn’t possible to get to mum quickly when something goes wrong. Julian has been superb in that respect, living so much nearer to Wakefield than us, and I’m very grateful for his care.
As with any national crisis, this unforseen event has brought out both the best and the worst in people...
There are empty shelves in our local supermarkets due to panic buying. Emi and I have found it hard to get hold of certain essentials due to this. We were not looking to buy more than we normally would, but so many empty shelves have made this virtually impossible. Essential items such as bread, milk, paracetamol, vegetables, hand sanitisers, toilet rolls and some tinned foods have become very hard to find.
In some ways it’s predictable, knowing how primal human nature is beneath the civilised veneer, but it’s also unforgivable given the circumstances. It’s leaving nothing for the health workers who are under so much pressure at this point in time and can’t get to the supermarkets regularly due to their essential work. (Not to mention the problems it causes for those of us in our senior years and in the higher risk category.)
There have even been people hoarding essentials such as toilet paper and then selling them for exhorbitant prices on the internet, profiteering from the anxiety of others.
I even saw a video of a man, apparently carrying the Coronovirus, captured on someone’s phone camera, licking the handles of supermarket trolleys to deliberately spread the virus to other shoppers. Whether this was a genuine video or not, I can’t say, but it looked real enough...
I noticed the other day, that there were supermarket staff spraying trolley handles with disinfectant outside of our local store.
On the other side of the moral coin, I’ve been touched by the kindness of friends, neighbours and strangers who have volunteered to try and bring food and medication to our door during our isolation. And, though pubs and restaurants are all closed, one of our village pubs is cooking heathy soup every Wednesday afternoon to deliver to people in the village who might need it. A very nice, charitable act.
Well, this is where we are. A new and dark reality that respects no borders or boundaries. I just hope that as many people as possible can be spared the anguish of losing their loved ones, and also the financial worry of losing their livelihoods due to the dramatic impact this virus is having on various sections of our economy.
Meanwhile, (that word again,) I’m trying to stay sane by continuing to work in my studio, still struggling with Cubase’s idiosyncracies but, hopefully, making some sort of progress. ‘The Navigator’ album is on the drawing board and ongoing. It seems to be an alternatively satisying and frustrating affair, (though I have lost all ability to judge whether it is any good or not.)
I still miss my old Mackie hardware based system and wish the company had continued to support, develop and evolve it, but that was not to be. And so now, I’m truly stuck in the virtual realm.
Despite my misgivings, I’ve recorded a lot of tracks, almost enough to fill two albums. So, I’m thinking of releasing a companion album to ‘The Navigator’ titled ‘New Vibrato Wonderland’ which will contain the extra material. But I’m still working towards this...
Last week, Emi and I were driving to Wakefield when we suffered a serious and dangerous breakdown on the M1 motorway. We were on our way to my mother’s in Emi’s car, travelling in the middle lane of the motorway at high speed, when the car’s engine suddenly stopped. Somehow I managed to freewheel across the lanes of fast moving traffic to the hard shoulder where the car came to a stop under a bridge which carried the M62 overhead.
The noise from passing cars and trucks was horrendous, making it difficult to hear what was said on the phone when we called the AA breakdown service. It was cold too as we stood behind the nearest crash barrier to wait for the AA to arrive.
The rescue came after a three quarters of an hour wait. The car was loaded onto the back of a truck and we climbed into the warmth and relative quiet of the truck’s cab. The AA man then drove both us and the car back to our home in York. We had broken down only a few short miles from Mum’s house but our visit had to be called off.
Once we reached home, the car was unloaded from the truck and another AA team arrived to try and fix it. After 30 minutes of trying they gave up. Apparently the fuel pump had completely packed in, so the car was towed to the garage where we get our cars serviced. But by this time the garage had closed so the car was left on the forecourt and its keys put through the garage letterbox. I telephoned the garage’s owner and informed him of the problem.
The next day the car was again inspected and, just as the AA guys had said, the fuel pump was found to be the culprit. A new fuel pump was ordered and the following day we were able to collect the car, (and a bill for almost £300,) from the garage and, fingers crossed, all is now well. Nevertheless, the actual breakdown on the motorway was a nerve wracking experience. Thank goodness we came out of it unscathed.
Just took a moment’s break from typing this journal entry to watch part of the 6 o’clock evening news. There are some horrific scenes of Italian hospitals overun with victims of the Coronavirus..and footage of coffin manufacturers working overtime. According to the experts, the UK is just two weeks behind the trajectory of the outbreak in Italy. Let’s hope that everyone heeds the official advice and stays home...