With isolation comes silence, and with silence the birds are more easily heard. Even in my town centre, the morning now begins with woodpigeons, blackbirds and other bird calls I’m still learning. And through my wide window I gaze at the clouds – I’m learning new cloud names – so far there’s cirrus, which resembles an egg white, and cumulus, more like mashed potato spread out on a plate. There’s so much more to see and learn, but I didn’t pause to look, before now.
Back to the modern world and the telephone has become so precious. Just a few short weeks ago, whenever it rang, spam calls and sellers invaded my home. Now there are only friends on the end of the line, some I’ve not heard from in a long, long while.
Isolation has made me remember how glad I am that I’ve always loved books. It is the perfect time to re-read old friends and I’m suddenly wondering why some people read a book just once – that’s not how we treat music. I’ve learned that re-reading gives me a deeper, different perspective; a lifetime of experiences has changed my viewpoint. I now have more sympathy for Mrs Bennet, even though she’s portrayed so harshly in the book and all Pride and Prejudice films. After all, she’s just trying to protect her daughters.
And then there is Jane Eyre’s Mr Rochester – he is far less appealing than he used to be. Age often brings a more forgiving view of the world but I’m sure he’d now be seen as an emotional abuser. You should never take an 18 year old with no family, no friends, no social support and no money and try to make her enter a bigamist marriage.
Music continues to be a joy for me although, I must confess, I’ve discovered some very silly television programmes. My new favourite involves three contestants dressing an unseen fourth in a specified outfit. They’re eliminated in turn and the winner gets to go on a date with the one they’ve dressed in the silly outfit they’ve put together for them. It’s compelling viewing even though completely ridiculous.
“More time has brought me more patience.”
I’ve noticed that this time by myself has made me realise that I’ve somehow let go of grudges I’d been holding on to. More time has brought me more patience. It’s allowed me to think how much I love those I do, from a deep reservoir of love.
My regular carer had to self-isolate to protect herself and vulnerable members of her household. When I’d heard my carer had to leave, I tried to call Social Services but there was no reply. I realised everyone would be calling them with the same questions. I finally reached a social worker at his home and heard his small children playing in the background. I suggested that I would find replacement care, if Social Services would pay them. The relief came through in his voice: “that’s just fine,” he said, “just fine”. In the meantime, I did what I could to care for myself, achingly slowly. I took the rubbish and recycling out – it took five trips and 20 minutes, but I did it. It made me feel competent, practical and in charge of my life.
"While a shortage of ingredients at home suddenly means embracing kale – it’s fresh, green and delivered – I just don’t like it"
I miss my previous carer but appreciate the new. She tells me she’s vegan and will be making guacamole for me. I think I’ll be learning a lot from her. And while a shortage of ingredients at home suddenly means embracing kale – it’s fresh, green and delivered – I just don’t like it.
But human kindness prevails. A Hermes courier delivering a parcel at a safe distance offered to get me any small items I might need and gave me his phone number. And the supermarket delivery man was visibly distressed that he was not allowed to carry the heavy bags he’d brought me further into my flat. I wished him safe times ahead.
All human contact will be at a safe distance for now, but it’s always near enough to smile and wish someone well. I will find ways to keep in contact with loved ones. I will send postcards to my five-year-old grandsons. I might even find a way to Skype them bedtime stories. I’ve many new ideas for these new times ahead.
'Sophia' requested that we not use her real name or a picture of her – we've therefore used a pseudonym and stock model images for her story.