Yesterday I didn’t do much, so I had a bit of time/inclination to write. For many of the prepared posts I write (as opposed to responses), I like to just save them as Drafts, then put them live maybe the next day. This gives me overnight, at least, to think about any tweaks, and also means that the final proof reading will be performed with a fresh pair of eyes. So, the post got its final check this morning, and here goes.
From having read my posts, would any of you believe that I have been a published author since very early on in my working life? Okay, not really in that sense! Let me explain:
My very first job out of college was with the UK’s Atomic Energy Authority. It was basically civil service – you can imagine that in the early days, atomic energy was very closely linked…
I was going to post this one anyway, but the first bit, for sure, fits into Fandango’s One-Word Challenge (FOWC). belligerent. I was going to update you on my current audiobook, called Renia’s Diary.
As it happens, Renia was about fifteen, a Jewish girl from Poland, in 1939. Of course, we know what happened, in fact we are told up-front that Renia was murdered by the Nazis in 1941. But because it is a diary, she writes so present tense – we know what is ultimately going to happen, but Renia, as she writes, has no idea.
She starts off, in January 1939, mad because they have had to uproot the family home. She has been packed off to live with grandparents, somewhere I can’t pronounce. Her mother is in Warsaw, for reasons I haven’t discovered yet.
In the first few entries, she also talks about school, for school terms in Poland ran absolutely normally in 1938-9. She even goes on her summer holiday at the end of the school year.
When Poland is actually invaded, in September, only Warsaw resists for any length of time (a week!). Again, thinking about the present and the future. We will win, she writes. Poland was invaded by both the Nazis and the Soviets, as a result of their pact at the start of the war. Renia even talks about Stalin’s occupying army, how one of the soldiers was sweet on her.
That is where I’m up to. So far it is pretty much what a teenage girl would write, I guess, but I am expecting Renia to get older very quickly.
Because it is a diary, everything is contemporary, which gives the book a unique perspective. It’s not written as a history book, where the end is known all the way through, where the author is leading us through to some end point. We do, of course, know what finally happened to Renia, but she didn’t. I’m expecting the account to end quite abruptly. And, I wonder if she’d have been so worried about being sent to her grandparents if she’d have known all the things that would happen subsequently?
And it makes me wonder about us. We often have immediate worries and concerns, but only hindsight allows us to know whether we were part of history.
This girl was living through something which ultimately changed the world, although she wasn’t aware of the sheer scale in her diary. And I look at this virus, and can’t help wondering whether we are too? We’ve already been in a situation where a roll of toilet paper is a better bargaining chip than a five dollar bill, where governments are handing out billions and trillions in order to keep their citizens solvent. Governments will presumably want to to claw all that money back one day? I wonder how much joy they will have? Maybe a few hundred years more austerity? How do they think populations will react to that? Maybe we’ll get to the point where a society is not just defined in financial terms, where money is not the be-all-and-end-all?
You guys have probably heard by now that both Prince Charles and BoJo [Boris Johnson] are being reported in the media as positive. I have to say that my immediate reaction was to wonder how they knew? Why they have been tested when even front-line nurses have not been tested yet, although in BoJo’s case presumably he is quite central to the co-ordination effort, so periodic testing is probably justified.
My second thought was a little more positive. If these public figures can pick the virus up, then it wouldn’t surprise me if many others of us have picked it up, too. And we don’t know, because the symptoms happen not to have been particularly bad (in us. They are obviously bad in some people.) And we’ll never know yes/no for sure, because we’ll never get to a hospital and therefore never be tested?
My mum and dad both died in 2012 (separately). My dad has a sister, who is now in her early/mid seventies. She emigrated to Australia back in 1970, when I was just a toddler. She got married out there and remains there to this day. I have three cousins who I’ve never met. I do, at least, keep in touch with the aunt via a weekly email exchange.
My mum was the middle one of three. She had an elder sister, and a younger brother. I haven’t seen the brother since I was a teenager – actually he is an interesting guy because he was a lowly market trader, who one day had an epiphany moment (think St. Paul!) and then became a church minister! I’ll tell you more about him one day, but this post isn’t about him.
My auntie – my mum’s elder sister – is somebody with whom I have been in regular contact, especially since my mum died. She was born three years before my mum, and is 79 now. She lives up in Greater Manchester – halfway up the country from me, about a five-hour drive.
Since the stroke, my own mobility has of course been restricted – I posted about this all the time, especially a couple of years ago – and I have not been able to visit her. We make do with a phone call every couple of weeks. When I last spoke to her she hadn’t been feeling well. Her eyes had been hurting, her head was aching, etc. I made sure I called her daily for a few days, as things eventually wore off. She has a daughter (my cousin) who still lives nearby, so I’m not really the primary contact anyway.
A week ago, the cousin contacted me, to say that my auntie had been taken into hospital. Where I’d laid off calling her for a couple of days because I thought she was getting better, she’d actually become bad enough to be admitted to hospital. All I could really do was to call her daily. When I spoke to her, there was a noticeable difference – she had become very anxious about things. She was convinced that she had done something, and that this was her punishment. She was convinced that her cellphone had been tapped, so she would not speak for long. Imagine the secuity services analysing those phone taps – what juicy material our conversations must have been 🙂. She apologised for even knowing me, in case it had somehow jinxed me. But, to her this was all real, and nothing anybody said could convince her otherwise. I mean, it sounded very stroke-like to me, almost a switch flicking in her brain. I wouldn’t claim to be an expert, though, and in my years volunteering with stroke survivors, I never came across anything like that. She did have an MRI scan which didn’t reveal anything – but I took that with a pinch of salt because mine was negative too, and now look at me!
Anyway, Fandango issued the prompt of amount, and I’m getting there. It won’t have escaped your notice that there is a little health scare going on at the moment. In the UK, the peak is expected in the next 2 weeks, and the NHS is preparing for it by kicking as many people out of the hospitals as they can.
This can mean things like cancer patients not receiving urgent treatment. Some hospices, too, have been closed. In my auntie’s case, she was discharged on Tuesday, complete with 7 days of anti-psychosis meds and an urgent outpatrient appointment booked for tomorrow. When I spoke to her Tuesday night, she was convinced that she had not been discharged properly (although she wouldn’t know the difference), that she had effectively run away, and that my cousin was about to be arrested for kidnapping her. So, judge for yourselves how cured she was!
Amount, okay. I heard on the tv tonight that this is very much a deliberate strategy by the NHS, and that some hospitals had brought their occupancy rates down to 80%, in preparation for the onslaught. I don’t particularly blame the NHS – this seems like a no-win situation. People without COVID-19 are not being treated, or not being treated properly, and they are the collateral damage. I wonder whether these people will appear in the final Corona data? I suspect not.
Our media is expressing shock, horror, that our medics might have to choose who to treat and who to ignore, as they have done in Italy. It sounds to me like that choice is already being made!
As a postscript, I spoke to my auntie a few hours ago. So far, so good. Actually she sounded better tonight at home than she had all week in hospital, but I guess that’s not surprising.