Corona Diary – Day One

Hello out there, dear readers.  I thought I’d share with you how I’m getting used to living in the new normal of a global pandemic.  As yet, our household of four adults isn’t showing any signs of having the virus – no continuous coughing or high temperatures.  Our daughter is a student at Oxford University where there are, I think, nine (or possibly more) confirmed cases of Coronavirus (COVID-19) although not in her college.  All face-to-face teaching has ceased and she has been asked to vacate her college accommodation, so is coming home today.  She is, understandably, heartbroken at having to leave her lovely rooms and wonderful friends so abruptly and in her final year of study.  At the same time, she acknowledges all her privileges and knows that she’s in a better situation than many others but some of her dreams and her university experience have been crushed.  She is in the process of finishing and handing in her dissertation and preparing for final exams – which are likely to be affected by the pandemic.

Our son is a student at Goldsmiths, University of London, in his first year.  Face-to-face teaching has ceased there, also.  As yet, he hasn’t received information about when or if to vacate his accommodation so I’m unsure if he will be coming home soon.  Oxford Uni has been better at communicating to students what to do, it seems to me.  There are also confirmed cases at Goldsmiths but, again, not in my son’s direct circle, as a far as I’m aware.

My husband, Andrew, works in IT and, although he is often on clients’ premises, he can usually carry out his job remotely, so he will be doing that as much as possible.  He’s on leave this week, in any case.  We were thinking of visiting Rome but obviously decided against that.  Our home set up, and Andrew’s requirement to often work remotely, means that he has an office at the bottom of our garden.  We’re hoping that, even if he is at home more than usual, we won’t notice the difference.

I work from home all the time, as a writer.  In recent times, I’ve commandeered our middle reception room as my writing room.   We used to call it the children’s playroom and it’s a great space, double-aspect and overlooking our back garden.  I’m about one third of my way through writing my next poetry collection but I’ve put that on pause for the moment while I concentrate on writing prose (as I hinted at in my previous post).  I’m working on a collection of interconnected, semi-autobiographical short stories to do, in part, with my experience of growing up in a family dependent on state benefits for income.  I had signed up for a weekly writing fiction class at Bristol University (Department of Continuing Education) but classes have been sporadic (although very helpful to keep me going) because of teaching staff strikes and now the virus.

My most recent publication was in 2018 (my poetry book, What Are You After? with Nine Arches Press) and I didn’t have any events or residencies planned for this year so I haven’t had to make alternative arrangements or cancellations – something that is affecting a lot of writers, I know.  My income is already low, I don’t think the pandemic is going to make it lower, and Andrew is fantastically supportive, so I’m not in need.   I have savings which I accumulated from working in various part-time jobs over the past few years.

I’m the Poetry Society’s Stanza Rep in Trowbridge so I will, I’m sure, need to notify members about the group soon.  I will send out a newsletter this weekend.

I don’t have much to add at the moment.  Do share your diaries or thoughts or strategies for coping during the pandemic.  I’m using the tag #coronadiary #CoronaDiary as a way of keeping track of these posts.


26 thoughts on “Corona Diary – Day One”

  1. We move between Scotland and Devon in order to help support my husband’s elderly Mum. After yesterday’s more detailed recommendations, we have spoken to other family members, including our children who urge us to stay in Scotland where we a fairly isolated anyway. We also spoke to Godfrey’s very supportive and independent, practical Mum who thinks we should stay in Scotland. We are staying in Scotland for the coming months. One son with partner and children is expecting to be told he isn’t needed for the next few months – fortunately he has saved enough for two months rent. Our daughter, husband and family are in Perth, Australia working in the oil and gas industry which has an uncertain future anyway. Our two other sons will probably be able to earn incomes but one is retraining and working and the college may well close temporarily. The friend who cleans our house and does the ‘change-over’ for this house which we let when we go to Devon will have no income. She is very worried. She is the earner in her family of three. It has all changed!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for sharing your plans, Madeleine. It sounds as if you’ve made the right decisions, for now. These are certainly uncertain times and I am sorry for people who are feeling worried and insecure. I have put a note through an elderly neighbour’s door to make sure she has our numbers – just in case. She is visited daily by family so she’s not alone. If everyone makes contact with at least one other, possibly vulnerable, person, that would make some difference. Love to you and yours in the meantime. x

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Good luck with your writing, Josephine. I’ve started a diary too but what a great idea to use it as a blog… I may follow your example! My youngest is doing an MA at Leeds and I’d really love her to come home otherwise who knows how long it will be until I see her… I hope your son gets home too.
    All the best, Ali x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Ali. I don’t know if home is best for our children – I know my son is going to find it very hard to isolate himself. I hope your youngest is safe and stays in touch. All good wishes to you and, if you share your diaries, I look forward to reading them. J x

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Lovely to hear from you as usual Josephine, but especially now. I’ll be fully self isolated after a hair cut on Thursday. Then it’ll be me and my cuddly cat. My son lives 2 hours away and I would have seen him at the weekend at Lancaster Litfest (now cancelled of course). But I’m lucky enough to have a garden and already received offers of support, shopping etc. I want to keep some kind of journal through these days too, as well as the usual submissions. Stay safe and well xx

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Lovely to hear from you, as well, Moira! Very sorry to hear that you’ll miss seeing your son but glad you’re in touch and I hope regular contact. Wonderful to hear you’ve had offers of support.
      Enjoy your garden! We’ve been trying to sort ours out a bit this week, getting it ready for the spring. Stay well and good luck with your writing. J x


  4. As New York City goes into lock down I am lucky enough to be north of the city with a view over the hills and access to the outdoors. A foray to the local supermarket indicated sporadic panic buying. In the absence of leadership panic and paranoia can fill the gap although at the state level our Governor is being pro-active and informative. Being aware that unconfirmed and asymptomatic people are the cause of most of the spread of infection, I am hunkered down, socially distanced and with a modest supply of shelf-stable ingredients. In an abundance of caution. I always love the new language that comes with any new drama.

    They are saying here that the cases of infection will peak in 45 days. I guess they are modeling that on what happened in Italy. Meanwhile, I am reading “Journal of the Plague Year” and the poetry of Howard Nemerov and planning my next blog post.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for this snapshot of what’s happening where you are, Josie. Yes, I agree, the lack of information has been poor. Boris Johnson is now broadcasting a daily statement on BBC1 which is an improvement. Good to hear you have all you need, for now, and what sounds like an excellent plan. Best wishes, Josephine


  5. Well, its time for homeoffice here in Wismar, Germany too. Children where told on friday to leave no books or other stuff at school and saturday saw the order to close all schools from monday March 16th to April 19th. Assingments startet to flow in over the schools webserver yesterday morning, so they have to work and can’t stay glued to YT or games all the time. As both sons are into handball and our local clob and all clubs in our state stopped teamtraining (which they attend 2 to 3 times a week) and normal league games last thursday already they have to try to arrange some from of basic training at home on their own. – After shutting down all public places during the last days Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, the state we live in, will limit the variety of open shops and venues to those that provide for basic need like food, pharmacy etc. from 6.00 am tomorrow till April 19th. – With no foreign destinations left, too many germans had nothing better to do than to rush to the coast and the islands at the North Sea and Baltic Sea for a weekend or longer. In response northern german states have blocked tourism and ordered all but permanent residents and workers to leave until thursday at the latest. – I’m ok with all that for the moment but think a lot about my elderly parents, who live nearly 2 hours drive away. I get on the phone with them once or twice per day. They still care for themselves and are in reasonably good health, but … Well, those will be some testing weeks. Lets hope the best. Greetings from the shore of the Baltic Sea!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much for this postcard from the Baltic Sea! So glad to hear you’re in touch with your elderly parents. Even if they don’t see you, your daily telephone calls must be very much appreciated by them. Good luck with keeping your sons entertained but it sounds like they are doing a good job of keeping up their good work, so far. Best wishes, Josephine


  6. Hi Aunty J!
    I had a call from E’s nursery at around 1:30pm today telling me that she had a high temperature and a cough, and could I come and collect her. So that’s us at home now for 14 days! She is absolutely fine- I’ve heard her cough once and her temperature is perfectly normal! So was it a totally random coughing fit that led to a hot flush and a temporary high temp? Or is she superhuman and recovered from covid-19 in record time?! Whichever it is, we are following nursery and govt guidelines for now. It will be an interesting time for sure- homeschooling J, working from home myself, and keeping Emily entertained!
    I’ll keep you posted! X

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Amy! Gosh, I hope you all stay well. Sounds like you have everything under control (with two little ones?!) and the Nursery did the right thing under the circumstances. I seem to remember my two rushing around and getting themselves super hot and into a coughing fit sometimes. You’ll have to keep an eye on everyone even more than normal for a little while, I guess. Love to you all xxxx


  7. Am so glad to have your blog to read and the comments from different parts of the world. I thought an enforce spell indoors (am 70 with emphysema etc) would give me an excellent writing time, both poetry and also search out and continue my novel from years ago, but the opposite has happened and I feel in limbo and desperate for fresh air and long walks – maybe I’m just contrary!!! I’ll try again when I’ve had my breakfast. I live in Liverpool where there isn’t rolling hills to either look out on or walk on but we have alot of lovely parks which I go to at quiet times.x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Becky, Thanks so much for commenting and I feel for you! I hope you are able to walk every day, even up and down a few streets, keeping a sensible distance from others. This is such a strange and frightening time, isn’t it? It would be great if you could find your novel and look at it again. I’m writing prose every day, even if it’s only a few words. I have some poems that I want to work up into a submission before the end of the month, as well. Do you have enough to read? I’ve started reading prose again after years of only poetry. I’ve started to use Hive an online bookseller who make a donation to a local bookshop of your choice with every order – and they don’t charge postage – And I find listening to the radio helpful – can you access BBC Sounds? Take care Becky, and know you’re not alone! J x


  8. Son and partner spoke to their landlord yesterday and have been told not to worry about paying the rent because they don’t depend on it.

    Isn’t that the best landlord response anyone could wish for?

    Liked by 1 person

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