I have no idea what I want to write about today. Inevitably, the words, Whereof we cannot speak thereof one must remain silent fall to mind, but that is to devaluate Wittgenstein’s reference to the unspeakable and not to my idle prattle.
It is 7.58 AM. We are back from our walk with Dido along the verge of the Zoo and have washed the dishes from last night’s supper with Alex and Tori, (DEFRA) which we were too tired then to consider. John cooked Raymond Blanc’s semolina and gruyere quenelles with a ‘piquante’ tomato sauce. The smell of garlic is pungent, so intrusive; normally it is a banned food. Garlic and onions, utterly desirable, are fatal partners to anyone suffering from IBS. (I ate gruel.) Once upon another time Aioli’ was my favourite taste. I might give John a second dishwasher for his birthday to accommodate the endless dishes and baking implements. I don’t mind packing the dishwasher but I am allergic to emptying it several times a day.
Weekends are a bit, not a word I care for, but it does feel we now live our lives in bits and pieces, are a bit more varied… My two weekend luxuries are an additional private Bridge lesson on Saturday mornings after which I feel guilty, but I don’t have a virtual personal trainer. Also, a scheduled /recurring Zoom with my grandson Dan who is in isolation with his girlfriend Alanna, my granddaughter Portia and Tanya in Hove. I am thrilled that Dan has so much to share with me about his work and days that Zoom extends beyond the prescribed fifty minutes. At the same time I then start to feel a Pavlov-fidget. Today, I will wash my hair, do one professional Zoom to my novice poet, I cannot fit everything into the week, and hopefully without becoming phobic manage a zoom to ‘my best friend’. The list feels a bit like the iconic nursery book The Very Hungry Caterpillar, except the grub emerges as a butterfly. Sunday being hair-wash day is when another Dyson product recommend by another ‘patient’ who was in despair about her bad hair day, comes to the rescue. I wrote to ask, not my colourist this time, but Alan, who in bygone days used to blow dry my hair every week, how he was managing. He replied:
Last night while reading Defoe’s Journal of a Plague Year I was once again struck by how much intuitive knowledge there was of the plague in the absence of any ‘science’. Defoe is here refuting the idea that the pestilence ( a word fallen out of current usage) is of God’s doing.
This put it out of question to me, that the calamity was spread by infection; that is to say, by certain steams or fumes which the physicians call effluvia, by the breath, or by the sweat, or by the stench of the sores of sick persons, or some other way, perhaps beyond the even the reach of the physicians themselves, which effluvia affected the healthy who came within certain distances of the sick, immediately penetrating the vital parts of the sound persons… and so the newly infected persons communicated it the same manner to others.
Few people today are influenced by religious zeal and we do not see COVID as divine curse, although the Book of Job with its vindication of the justice of God in the face of human suffering, inevitably passes through my mind. As in Bridge, the thought becomes a ‘discard’. Yet, there is something uncanny about the way COVID strikes its death toll, if not its grim reaper’s fatal blow, on the Seventh Day of the disease. The article in the Guardian below, written by a physician who has been at the Front Line in Italy, is sobering and reminds, once again, we are still captive to the Dark Ages of the disease. I am struck by the professor’s hypothesis that invasive intubation may do more damage than ‘cure’.
A renowned intensive care specialist from Italy, Prof Luciano Gattinoni, said this type of clotting in respiratory diseases is “extremely unusual”. The 75-year-old has been working in intensive care for 40 years, and said he has never seen anything like what is happening to the lungs of some Covid-19 patients. What is particularly baffling is patients are presenting with poor oxygenation but little lung damage. This type of presentation is more typical of patients suffering from altitude sickness than a viral infection, Gattignoni says. As a result, patients who are very sick may not feel like they’re really struggling to breathe – even as they’re being critically deprived of oxygen.
And a new anxiety: cybersecurity experts warn that British government’s contact tracing app could be used to surveil people even after coronavirus has gone