Monday 23rd March. The Coronet Diaries.

Could this be the shadow of COVID19 (photos by John Haynes 23/03/20)

Finding time to write today is going to be difficult as I have just looked in my diary and have Skypes on almost every hour until 7.30. But I shall try. I hope our ritual visit to the park with Dido in an hour may inspire me.

I want to keep a daily record of insignificance in the eye of the storm. Nothing comes from nothing. To begin with I thought I would be like our cat Zen, (I am collecting pictures of his day.) He is a house cat because he was feral and scorched by winter when he arrived on our trellis on Boxing Day three years ago. Although we open the garden doors several times a day to let Dido out, Zen is going nowhere.. He spends his day selecting different chairs, stairways and windows and gazes out at Nature or he sleeps. He seems to wake up when we go to bed. I thought my life would become more like his, with the most important thing being which chair shall I sit in now. The truth is the only time I sit down now is to Skype. Zen is our house totem cat. One who has already lost several lives.

Zen spends his time waiting.

Oh, boy! The news is not great today. So far I’ve heard of three people in London without underlying health issues and somewhere around 50 who are in ICU’s and not doing too well. I don’t know why I feel so sanguine but there is certainly something about living in a street where so much communality has emerged just like mice from the skirting. I wish I could make a collage of all the candles that were lit last night. Another semi-confession is that I have made very little effort with any of our neighbours unless they happen to have dogs but in fact I think Dido may be the one inhabitant of the street and the rest all come from ‘around the corner’. It is always babies and animals with whom I am most likely to avoid stranger anxiety. I have now started saying ‘Hello’ to everyone I social-distance pass in the park, but very few people respond. Most of them are already talking to their phones. To return from park to street I have this maybe imaginary feeling that as long as I am in this street we will all do whatever it takes to give it each other the best chance of survival. I have never had that feeling before. Of course there will always be disappointments where unaware of their shadow, some people will still reveal self interest above altruism, but the young NHS workers are inspirational. The retired ones as well. Tomorrow I will post an open letter/article that Dr Martin Scurr, yes the Daily Mail journalist, will publish in the Daily Mail. I shall have my own addendum to his declaration about returning to the work force from retirement and historic (but not that long ago) ill health. Some doctors will be doctors until their final breath while others, hopefully a minority, cannot now understand why they ever wanted to be doctors. I am still waiting to hear whether our own young and dedicated GP has landed on the right side of the critical seven day COVID19 hurdle and is back on his feet, if not yet in the surgery. The jury was still out last night.

In this book we explore the inner lives of GP’s. Rather like mini-analyses.

I have to go back to work now and I doubt if I shall have more time to write today. John is working on the ‘park pictures’. His, not mine. Sinister, beautiful, extraordinary. All about shadows but my Shadow is in hiding today.

And, I have just received an amazing combination of gifts by email- out of the blue as it were – from my first training patient ever. I think it is now forty years almost. He was a nineteen year old student who had arrived in London from Land’s End. How reluctant he was to be almost forced into therapy by his ‘professor’ as an ultimatum. I still see him on the 159 bus in my mind’s eye travelling from Brixton to the Abbey Rd at dawn. I remember he was compelled to listen to the early morning BBC Farming Programme on the journey but it took hundreds of meetings to find out why. He was terrified that he was suffering from ‘Mad Cow Disease’. Life is stranger than fiction.

The gift is a picture of his yield of home baked bread, sent in affectionate competition with John’s. They have met. And the MS of a new collection of his poetry about the mysteries and yields of memory, which he says had its origin in our early morning conversations at least 30 years ago. Perhaps I shall stand corrected time wise…? Hey there John! Yes John x John. No wonder I am feeling sanguine today.

Yorkshire Bread baked by John Wedgwood Clarke

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