(John says the diary should be subtitled Granny Takes A Trip, which was the first of the hip sixties shops (1966) at the end of the King’s Rd, World’s End. More to come about those heady days another time.)
I have woken up unable to decide if my mind has become a jigsaw where none of the pieces will fit together, or it is the world that is the fractured jigsaw….It feels like every day is a bad hair day. Yet, I am aware how privileged it is to be able to work at the same rate and with the same passion as when I was in my Marylebone consulting room and to have half of the family around me. But, there are differences which feel ocean-wide when the only scrap of housework I was hitherto responsible for was making the bed. Today is Thursday and linen-changing-day has now slipped even further from Tuesday to Fridays because it takes so much energy to get an infernal clean duvet cover on. It has occurred that the origin of this bed changing obsession must be due to the fact that I was shipped off to boarding school aged six with an obese white rabbit called Harvey to care for and for whom I was expected to provide a daily consumption of dandelion leaves. There was no fancy pet food. I could barely look after myself let alone a voracious rabbit. Anyway, making your bed was the first thing you did every day and bed inspection was a serious matter with untold tuck-embargo-consequences if you hadn’t folded the corners properly. There was a name for corner-folding but I have forgotten it. I might Google it later. No wonder I had forgotten they are ‘Hospital corners’.
(A later note inserted: I have just come off Zoom with the last ‘patient’ of the day. His eight year old daughter kept interrupting the session by coming into his home office and demanding he look at her school timetable for next week, which she insisted on leaving with him. The first instruction was to get up and to make your bed. When I commented about my own preoccupation he went on to tell me that he had sometime earlier watched a video on Youtube about an American commander talking about how to survive lockdown whose first instruction was to make your bed as soon as you got out of it…)
As I said every day is a bad hair day. I have fantasies of getting some scissors – a hair cutting pair is on order – and shearing myself into a bob. I don’t want to end up looking like Mary Beard; I don’t see that as an insult because if she likes looking like a geriatric Alice in Wonderland she is to be admired for her ingenuity. I have already admitted elsewhere in the diary that my low -lights are oops! were one of my epicurean luxuries. I have known my colourist for many years since she graduated from being Daniel Galvin’s favourite junior into the salon’s lead colourist when she was still barely out of her teens. She is called Gemma . As I have known Gemma since she was a teenager, inevitably we have become friends. Now, she is also a mother of three children. Yesterday, I wrote asking her what I could do about emerging/emergency grey. Some of my ‘patients’ have volunteered a purchase of temporary ‘Wow’ hair products but they are all sold out. Jemma sent me a stern text in reply: Nothing at all you can do… You will just have to wait until all’s OK again to have it done. The salon is now taking bookings for June but nobody really knows anything. I could have laughed until I cried, except I felt more like crying, not about my hair but the fact that her comment could be an aphorism for COVID ‘life’.
When I interviewed Bell for yesterday’s diary entry, I asked her what she knew about the virus. The terrifying thing is what ‘We’ and the little pronoun ‘we’ deconstructs to include both layman and the scientists who are all battling and competing to ‘KNOW’, do not know. It certainly has more lives than a cat and possibly more incarnations than any Indian god. Not since Leonardo conceived of reproduction as the fully fledged homunculus and the seventeenth century physician Willian Harvey – an English physician who was the first person to describe in detail, the systemic circulation and properties of blood being pumped to the brain and the rest of the body by the heart – have we humans been in such clouds of unknowing. The way the Government keep spuriously referring to being guided by the science of the disease is no more than a Grimm’s fairy story without a happy ending.
I do not know if there is any point in our front hall being full of cardboard boxes that are in quarantine. Again, it reminds me of boarding school when we were so often in quarantine for measles, mumps and the dreaded scarlet fever. Do I really need to keep disinfecting the front door knob? Yesterday, I returned to the conclusion that as I believe Fate plays a unquantifiable part in every individual’s destiny, a greater part than Free Will (contemporary neuroscience argues there is no free will), I was on the verge of throwing in the hat, or whatever it is you throw in. Perhaps it is the towel, or even the sheet and defying any future lockdown restrictions. Then, in spite of trying to avoid the news something flashed up onto my iPhone:
People needing hospital treatment for coronavirus are as likely to die as those with Ebola, claim UK researchers.
Two things I do know: among the myriad cardboard boxes scattered unopened in the front hall there is a Dyson hand held hoover waiting to be unpacked. (My heath-walking patient will be thrilled that I have followed her recommendation.) Actually, I know three things. I know that everyone in the house is so busy trying to carry on our professional lives as well as look after children and do the housework, that the hand-held is unlikely to be unpacked until later next week.
I also know that while this hitherto unimaginable life we are all living in our different ways will become memory for Bell and her generation. That whatever changes to society are COVID’S consequence will become normality for her and may even lead to a more modest and kind society, the luxury of the pandemic becoming a memory for anyone entering ‘old age’, whenever that begins, is not on sale.
There is a fourth thing I know: the fact that my mind feels like a fractured jigsaw, (I am useless at jigsaws, and would be useless at any I Q testing.) I am also useless at Scrabble even though I am passionate about language, is an advantage to a therapist. The skill of not needing to fit things/objects into equivalent spaces is an advantage when working with the mind and the unconscious, which defies any categories of theory, science, or thought. Working as a therapist there are no horses for courses but only individuals who are struggling to find unique solutions to their problems and struggling to become themselves.
What we don’t know about the Corona Virus:
Did Experts Fail To Speak Truth To Power Over Targeted Herd Immunity:
Admiral Mc Raven addresses his audience and Seals on the importance to endurance of making your bed correctly every morning: