Wednesday, April 1, 2020, Day 17, Week 3, of Self Isolation.

Global Cases 938,923
Global Deaths 47,314
UK Cases 29,474
UK Deaths 2,352

There have been 564 new deaths in past 24 hours. One of these was a 13 year old boy who died alone in isolation. Another UK doctor has also died.

All other news seems very insignificant and unimportant compared to this, so it feels very flippant just to move on and say that Wimbledon has been cancelled for the first time since the Second World War, and that Prince Charles is out of isolation after his bout of Covid-19.

On a personal note, my right knee is very sore after all the cycling. I think I’m going to have to rest it today. It’s a bit of a blow, as the walk or bike ride in the fresh air has become the highlight of our day.

But, the good news, actually fantastic news, is that a story I wrote for a competition in January, has got me through to the next stage in the competition. The competition is the NYC Midnight Short Story Competition. The story is called Option 3. I paid just under £40 to enter. It takes place over 4 rounds.

In the 1st Round (January 17-25, 2020), writers are placed randomly in heats and are assigned a genre, subject, and character assignment.  Writers have 8 days to write an original story no longer than 2,500 words.  The judges choose a top 5 in each heat to advance to the 2nd Round (April 2-5, 2020) where writers receive new assignments, only this time they have 3 days to write a 2,000 word (maximum) short story.  The judges again choose a top 5 in each heat to advance to the 3rd Round (May 15-17, 2020) where writers receive new assignments and have 2 days to write a 1,500 word (maximum) short story.  Judges select finalists and the remaining writers are challenged to write a 1,250 word (maximum) story in just 24 hours (June 19-20, 2020) in the fourth and final round of the competition.

4700 people have entered this year and I was one of 790 people who made it through to the next round! It’s safe to say I am delighted!

In Round 1, my challenge was to write a story in the Spy genre, with a theme of Mid-Life Crisis and featuring a Martial Artist. I was horrified at first, having never written anything like ths before. It came though in January, when we were in Barbados, and I spent the last few days of the holiday working on it, with lots of help and support from M and our friends. I’ve published it on here in a separate post.

There is a fair bit of interest in how Sweden is dealing with the crisis. Our son lives out there in Malmo, so we have a particular interest in this. They are pretty much carrying on as normal, and have not adopted any of the more draconian lock down measures that other countries in Europe have. They seem to be holding their nerve and pushing on down the herd immunity route, with a more relaxed approach to social distancing which relies on the principles of individual and social responsibly. But, by all accounts from our son, he’s not seeing any evidence that people are being particularly responsible. This is where the UK started a few weeks ago but seemed to lose their nerve when numbers started to rise and they saw what was going on in Italy. It will be interesting to see how it works out for them!

I did a bit of writing in the morning. Finished an article on Mindfulness for our business website. Boosted by the NYC success, I entered Option 3 into the Writers Bureau annual Short Story Competition.

I did a bit of cooking after that, rustling up some cheese and onion scones with some old pasta flour that I found in the back of the cupboard.  I used up some tomatoes and left-over mascarpone to make a creamed tomato and chorizo soup. Not a bad effort, even if I say so myself!

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This afternoon, we were reflecting on lessons we have learned so far from all of this. A big one is whether we should plan ahead as much in the future, and maybe be a bit more spontaneous, even if it does risk not getting tickets for things. We actively decided this year to get a few short trips and events planned out, and now they have pretty much all been cancelled or postponed. These included:

  • Tickets for the Nature Valley Classic tennis tournament in Edgbaston
  • Tickets for West Indies v England cricket at Edgbaston
  • Tickets for the Mostly Soul and Jazz Festival in Mosely
  • Tickets, flights and accommodation for the European rugby finals in Marseille

I had every intention of going back to my desk after lunch, to work on the next chapter of Wait for Me, but it just never happened. I phoned my sister and then my mum, they’ve had a case of Covid-19 in their building, and Face-Timed my daughter, being stuck in the house all day with the kids is driving her mad. A couple of friends, that I haven’t seen for a while, passed the house on their daily walk so we had a doorstep chat – keeping 2m apart of course. I went out to the doctors to post a repeat prescription for my shoulder painkillers through their letterbox, and stopped on the way to have a chat to my friend on his second floor balcony.

And so, the afternoon just slipped away …

We’ve got in to the habit of sitting down to watch the news everyday around 4 or 5pm. They have an extended programme every afternoon that wraps around the daily government briefing.

The briefings are becoming a bit monotonous now. Ministers and civil servants from further and further down the food chain are being called in to deliver the briefings, as the others fall prey to the virus. Today we had Alok Sharma, Business Secretary and MP for Reading, who had the charisma of an algebra textbook, and Yvonne Doyle,Medical Director and Director of Health Protection for Public Health England, who was a bit like the proverbial “rabbit in the headlights.”

You have to feel for them. There is a growing uproar about the lack of personal protective equipment for healthcare workers and the chaos around testing. The questions from journalists felt increasingly confrontational and their responses increasingly insufficient. I once did a course on Media Communication for Public Health Professionals, where they taught us to always have three things that you want to say, and to say them irrespective of what questions you are asked, even if it means repeating yourself. There is a lot of that going on at the moment!

M cooked dinner – meatballs in a ratatouille style sauce. Very nice! We watched a movie called Uncorked and a few more episodes of Kingdom.

No news from M’s consultant yet – still waiting to speak to her about his prophylactic antibiotics. It’s obviously, and completely understandably, not a priority for her in the current situation. Worrying and frustrating for us but we just have to be patient and think about all the people who are way worse off than him at the moment.

 

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