DAY 34: Thurs 16 April

Blood pressure puts the mockers on the day

Woke at 5:45 this morning, but thankfully went back to sleep for a while.  Again not feeling great but determined to do some machine-based exercise. I did not get very far. Had to do some online transactions which inevitably engaged me in more, and just when I was ready to start I get a call to say my son will ride by with his son. 

The highlight of the morning is standing at the gateway while they straddle a bike two metres away and we try and have a conversation. It is so unnatural and grandson No.3 is not impressed. He can hear the chickens but is not allowed to come and see them. He and his little sister are keeping their parents busy to the point of exhaustion. It is such a pity that I cannot help out. I can at least supply some tomato plants, seeds and some eucalyptus oil, and off they go.

Coming back inside is a bit of a downer, and I realise I should be checking my blood pressure. It is very high, which only adds to the anxiety. It explains the headache and the tinnitus, I suppose.

It is late when I let the chickens out. They have been making quite a collective caterwauling this morning, which is odd, until I realise that I have not filled their water container! Oh dear, now I am in the dog house, as they march by me in high dudgeon.

I receive an impassioned message from a distraught Marcia Lawrence-Russell, Executive Director of Justice the Union (Different but Equal <>) querying whether the high proportion of Black people dying from Covid19 is a result of inept treatment. She cites in great detail the experience of her father, admitted to City Hospital Birmingham with complications caused by his diabetes but who ended up on a ‘suspected Covid-19’ ward. Tests proved negative so the family took him to another hospital, where he again ended up in a Covid-9 ward because City Hospital had included his previous location in his notes. Not sure is who her MP, but the circumstances do need to be looked into.

My Egyptian colleague at Sussex University lets me know that they are constructing a temporary mortuary on the campus, minutes away from the tiny room to which she is confined. Not a happy thought. 

Blood pressure still high. I sat in the garden and watched the chickens for a while. It did not make much difference to the blood pressure. I clambered onto the walking/cyclng machine and gave it a blast while I read Bill Naughton’s short story Late Night on Watling Street from way back in 1959. That made a little bit of a difference to the blood pressure. Probably serves me right for not getting on with my exercises first thing each day.

The 5pm briefing from Mr Raab and Co. did little to lighten the mood with 861 people dying in hospital and no doubt another 200 elsewhere. I do hope we are reaching the ‘peak’, the figures are getting to be overwhelming. A three week extension to the lockdown was inevitable, but I really think we shall be inside for much longer.

A friend cheers me up with a clever parody of The Sound of Silence by The Kiffness. And another sends over a clever pastiche of famous pantings depicting the behaviours and emotions of those of us in lockdown, compiled by a Spanish outfit called Friking. 

Then its time to read the next chapter of The Master, when we finally learn that the 157 year old mystery man is planning to find a successor to complete his project – to conquer the world! The boys are now really into it and expect rather than are disappointed by a cliff-hanger to end each session. A most rewarding exercise, even if they tend to lark around a bit and press too many buttons on the laptop, recording me, taking pictures and firing up emojis and gifs!

I intend to retire early tonight, so this will go up earlier than usual, which is probably no bad thing. Not that anybody reading it anyway. I keep it going as It should make an interesting testament at a later date when we have all forgotten this dreadful time. (Will we ever, do you think?)

As I write I realise that I have just missed the 8pm clap for the NHS. I had really been looking forward to it – a chance to see and wave to the neighbours. What have we been reduced to? Now I feel like a pariah. Must make sure I don’t miss it next week!

Mike J

Journalist, trainer, editor; storyteller; amateur historian.

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