This most prolific novelist Is known as “Queen of Crime”. She wrote so many stories I’d never have the time To read a tiny fraction Of all the books she penned. But glancing through their titles, This warning I must send: Stay at home, keep safe. If you read the tales about Miss Marple, Monsieur Poirot, You’ve no reason to go out. Or visit dangerous places Where her tales are often set, The Nile, the Caribbean And some more dangerous yet; Trains seem a favourite setting; The Orient Express, The four fifty from Paddington, The Blue train too, no less. There’s Caribbean Mystery And Murder on the Nile Mesopotamia as well In true exotic style. So I’d advise you, stay at home. Eschew all foreign trips. Stock up on detective books And take-out fish and chips. You won’t be made to isolate You won’t infect your friends You’ll be expert on detective books Once this pandemic ends
A Panda Called Mick
“Mummy, what does “panda mick” mean?
Is there a panda called Micky?
And why is your face covered up?
Is it all dirty or sticky?”
How can I explain this damn virus
When I don’t know myself what it is
Stay at home and keep safe
Keep safe, stay at home
That’s what we’re told all the time.
Social distance – two metres
Two metres away
That’s what we’re told.
Try telling that to a five-year-old.
He can’t understand, he can’t understand
Where his friends have all gone
They don’t come to play any more.
It’s worse much worse of course
For old Annie, next door:
Not allowed out at all.
Food delivered by kind helpers
Parcels piled on the doorstep.
Put them down, ring the bell, and stand back.
Watch her pick up the box
Note she’s alive and (apparently) well
Wave and smile
Don’t forget, wave and smile
Then tick off her name on the list.
It isn’t the Covid that kills you It isn’t the virus that slays It’s being in self-isolation For goodness knows how many days. It feels a great weight on your shoulders Locked down and locked up and shut in You can sit on the floor or wave from your door Anything more is a sin. You mustn’t go out of your garden To the park or the post office shop You can’t ride your bike or take out your trike These endless restrictions won’t stop, You can’t kiss your boyfriend or granny Keep away from that baby so cute Unless in a bubble, you aren’t meant to cuddle Pray turn down your speaker to “mute”. When a friend calls to see how you’re doing Don’t hug them to show that you’re pleased You’ve a positive test – and well, you know the rest- You’re a pariah infected, diseased. There’s one single scenario only Worse than self-isolation at home Being stuck with just one companion Can be far worse than being alone.
Before the virus you would come To see us after school. You’d have your tea with grandpa, Go swimming in the pool, The river where you’d feed the ducks, The park with swings and slides And when the fair came to our town You’d go on all the rides. Sometimes you’d stay with us all night “Sleep-over” that’s the name You didn’t have a lot of sleep (Your granddad says the same!) We used to do so many things I’m sure we’ll start anew Once this lockdown’s lifted Who knows what Gran can do?
If/when I come to the end of my life I want to be at home. This poem illustrates my thoughts on the subject. B.C. - before Covid I wouldn't have minded now I definitely want a "home death" like some want a "home birth". Last Wish I want to die in the discomfort of my own home. Not in a hospital bed, Surrounded by white-gowned Angels, Looking like Ku Klux Klan members. I’d rather die at home, In pain but in a familiar place, With my own germs and house dust mites (And no doubt a plentiful supply of Corona virus) In muddle and mess but mine own! With people I know around me, Not anonymous figures in PPE and plastic aprons. However kindly, however compassionate, I’m told in extremis they may even hold your hand With carefully sanitised and gloved fingers. Meanwhile your loved ones can only Snatch a glimpse through a window. Will this last - selfish - wish of mine be granted? I doubt it.
Life as we knew it now on hold, Outside the world is grim and cold. Corona virus takes each day Keeps us back from work or play Dearest children now are seen Only via computer screen What comes next? Who can know? Next year where will daisies grow?
In 2019 I entered this piece for the Lady Denman Cup, a writing competition organised each year by the WI. The theme was “Amazing Discoveries” and could be about real or imagined scientific advances. Just in case you wondered mine wasn’t one of the winners!
The work of Professor Tracey Wildgoose is without doubt the best-known discovery of the twenty-second century. It all began in Disneyland when her young nephew went missing. He was found after a lengthy search, safe and sound and re-united with his frantic parents.
This incident sparked Tracey’s interest in the way some groups or couples have an almost telepathic sense of where their other half is and what they are doing; identical twins are often quoted as examples of this, so are pairs of lovers or mothers and their babies.
Tracey specialised in social psychology and communications. By the time she chose a PhD subject she had added neurology, information technology and electronics to her portfolio. She was determined to find a way of linking not just those with a special telepathic aptitude but everyone. She set up a major experiment involving thousands of volunteers, which was widely publicised and supported by the WI. It was difficult and complicated work and of course there were some failures. But after many trials on volunteer groups Tracey’s Tracer, as it was called, became a reality.
For many years there had been electronic tags to keep track of criminals out on licence. There had been pendants for elderly people to wear and activate when they needed assistance. These devices were good as far as they went, but the Tracey Wildgoose Tracer rendered them obsolete. The Tracer works by a small microchip inserted into someone’s brain and linked to a similar chip in someone else. Then the two individuals can share such detail as where they are, who they are with and even what they are thinking. Some families have all their members “chipped in”.
It took some time before this device was widely adopted and even now some people refuse it, just as some refuse to use computers or mobile phones. But by and large the Tracer has gone from strength to strength. There is even a movement to have every baby fitted with a Tracer at birth. This hasn’t happened yet but many feel it is only a matter of time.
A question often put is “Can a Tracer be removed or modified?” The answer is Yes. Teenage children wouldn’t want their parents to know too much about what they were getting up to and not many people would want to keep a contact geared to an ex-partner. So the Tracer can be adapted to a change in location or lifestyle.
Tracey Wildgoose has often been lauded as a “Renaissance woman”, a female Leonardo da Vinci for her work. But perhaps Isaac Newton would make a better comparison as his iconic work is said to have been incited by the single small incident of an apple falling from a tree.
Now, would you believe it, the government are proposing to put a trace (see Harry Potter books) on us all, by using of our mobile phones. Apparently phones can let you – or Big Brother Government or even Good Sister NHS know where they are, even when they are switched off. Then it will be possible to check whom you have been in contact with and if they are carriers of the Covid virus.
It isn’t too difficult to check where some phone is (the phone, as opposed to the owner.) Remember though phones can get lost, loaned or stolen. Their IT systems can be hacked and all sorts of other nasty things can happen.
Another consideration: how far away is “near” ? Someone walking past you at a fraction less than the “social distance”? Someone walking past your house while you are sitting looking out of the window?
How can you, or rather the authorities, know that the person you were in close contact with is a covid carrier? Will we get list of contacts and be required to check that they are virus-free? Perhaps we will get a message saying “you have been on contact with a possible covid source and must isolate” and not even get to know who the carrier is.
Sounds crazy but all too likely in the present situation. Where people struggle to get tested for corona-virus, but can leave the testing centre and catch the virus from the next person they meet or the next object they touch.
I had been thinking of getting a new mobile phone with the usual extras – camera, radio, films, video etc. but on second thoughts I won’t bother and I think I might chuck my present phone into the river.
It just goes to show how something written as fiction can come dangerously close to reality. I should be careful what I write. I’ll steer clear of stories of alien invasions or machines taking over the world – they just might come true!
I want to take advantage of the present very strange situation where we are shut off from so much – any group of people larger than two is forbidden unless you live in the same house when, I suppose, even if you are a family of mum and dad plus ten children you are permitted to go out for a walk together – as long as you keep 6 feet away from anyone else.
All very very odd.
From what I can find out:
The Corona virus – CoVid19 – is invisible to the naked eye virtually undetectable and transmitted by contact with other people or surfaces or other objects. So not only can you be infected by someone sneezing or coughing on you, just touching something – a door handle or a sheet of paper they have handled can cause you to become infected.
Anyone and everyone can become infected by this invisible virus. Some people will not even know they have it – they will have no symptoms at all – but and this is the important bit – they can still pass the the infection on to others. Most people will get a fairly mild infection – they’ll feel a bit off colour but not enough for most people to even mention; some will feel worse and may have to take time off work; some may need to go to hospital of these some will become seriously ill and a few – a very few as a percentage – will die. (We’ll all die eventually.)
Oddly enough there may even be some good things coming out of all this. The local roads – and I imagine even the motorways and trunk roads are beautifully empty. Riding a trike round the local lanes is a delight. Wouldn’t it be great if when all this is over we started a Corona Virus commemoration day, say once a month, when motorised traffic was banned – apart from the emergency services. I can’t think of a better way of remembering those who died in the Corona virus outbreak and honouring the medical staff who treated them. Only a dream – alas.
I know most of this is trivial. But this is what it feels like cut off from the minor things that make life enjoyable.
Every day is now the same
Once it wasn’t so.
Every day was different
With places I would go:
On Monday if it wasn’t wet
I’d catch the bus to town
I’d wander round the larger shops
And have a nice sit-down
In park or square or café
A cup of tea and then
I’d take out my bus pass
To go back home again.
On Tuesday I would meet my friends,
A group who come on bikes.
We’ve got our favourite cafe
That everybody likes.
Wednesday’s coffee morning
Meets in the chapel hall.
I find out all the latest news
Of people great and small.
Thursday is our market day
And if the weather’s fine
I’ll go round all the market stalls
Down Main Street in a line.
We’ve a book group in the library
There’s poetry, scrabble too.
I’ve never till this Lockdown
Been stuck for things to do.
We’re told we’re not to venture out
Unless we walk alone
The only things that save me
Are my i-pad and my phone!
Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote:
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being and ideal grace.
I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for right.
I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.
Locked Down Poems
How can I love thee? When I have to stay
Two metres – social distance – well away
I’ll love you from across the garden, road or street
Convey my love by email, text or tweet.
Make use of Facebook posts and Skype as well
Without these lifelines, locked down life is Hell.