The Coronet Diaries March 14th. 2020

The virus has been simmering in the background for the last month but I refused to be stalled by it. On March 1st I moved from my consulting rooms in Gloucester Place directly opposite the somewhat dilapidated but impressive Theosophical Society building. I have moved to a loft consulting room under the eaves in Devonshire Street in an equally impressive Regency Building, ‘The Landmark’ with a stellar view of the post office tower which one of the people I see refers to as ‘Your treehouse palace’. Without doubt it is a room not only where walls have ears but it is a room with a view. I mention the Society because I fear its popularity and endowments are likely to increase as we watch our new vital statistics. The news today is that the death rate has doubled in the UK.

I read the news today, oh boy
About a lucky man who made the grade
And though the news was rather sad
Well, I just had to laugh
I saw the photograph… (Sergeant Pepper)

Now, the key has turned. The door is locked. I don’t know when it will open again.

It was late afternoon, Thursday 5th March, when I was in the middle of a conversation and we glanced out from the window and observed a rainbow spinning beams of light across two aerial cranes that turned Tracy neon. The shared moment felt numinous… We were privileged… All things change.

Now it feels God has abandoned his covenant. Forgive me, I forgot God is dead and it is Mother Gaia who seeks revenge on the collective hubris of mankind. Yes, what fools we mortals be. Our post modern technology has transgressed the divine. Without morality we are now quarantined into state isolation. And terror.

I am in self isolation at home with some of my family, with Dido the indulged hound and Zen the feral cat. I do not have any libations to offer up to the offended goddess except Skype/Zoom sessions. Unless there is a toxic snake smouldering under the polished boards. Maybe a rat.

There are two reasons for our isolation, neither being due to any suspected viral loading. The first is that I have been privileged, whenever anxious about medical issues, to text my friend Dr. Martin Scurr for advice, with whom I wrote a book, Doctors Dissected and who also happens to be the Daily Mail medical correspondent. (Regardless of their politics they employ great journalists.) When I woke up on Wednesday and received the following unsolicited email from him I almost freaked. Not a good beginning to any day. I have known Martin for over twelve years and never once known him to lose his clinical cool:

Dear Jane

We are poised for a big wave of the epidemic – about 7-10 days away yet. To do nothing and carry on as usual is like standing still and watching the tide go out just before the tsunami came in- head for the hills now-  love M   

PS Beware of “ normalcy bias” worry is building; in the NHS even surgeons and others are being trained up in managing patients on ventilators with all routine work being abandoned. M.

Secondly, I am privileged to look after some senior clinical practitioner/managers in my consulting room. Hitherto, while the virus was persecuting foreign shores, and still without independent clinical experience their attitude remained unruffled. “Some people will need a bit of oxygen here and there.” By the end of Thursday they were confirming not only Martin’s tsunami but also the fear that not even ventilators were effective in the eye of this storm. Nobody, but nobody yet fully understands what this virus is doing to produce such fatal septic shock to our lunging lungs.

photos by Jane Haynes and Adrian Searle

One thought on “The Coronet Diaries March 14th. 2020

  1. I enjoyed hearing you in the podcast, especially when you put the cat among the pigeons twice ! I love that sort of thing!
    Re: unzipping and ‘an interpretation’ over ‘the interpretation’
    of dreams.

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