From a small corner of Cambridge, 1

Very strange, difficult, stressful times. For some, already the worst of times. So far, we’ve been lucky.

But our world contracts. People our age are now being asked to stay close to home, to reduce social contacts, and so on.  How stern is the injunction? It’s not entirely clear. Fortunately, we live very near the river and Midsummer Common; we can take walks out when the paths are quiet. But I can foresee that we will largely be confined for weeks to this small corner of Cambridge.

In fact, we have been more-or-less self-isolating for a week already, because that seems wisest for us, various things being considered. We’ve already stopped going to cafés, I’ve stopped going to the gym, University of the Third Age classes and walking groups have been suspended. We’re not meeting up with friends. Family are mostly elsewhere anyway. We are used to a very quiet life, so will no doubt cope better than many. But there is a difference between quietness and prolonged isolation. We’ll just have to find some time-consuming and enjoyable house-bound projects.  So, for a start, there’s the decoration of three or four rooms we’ve been meaning to do ever since the builders left. Already there has been an amount of comfort baking — we’ll need to do more home exercise too, to counteract that. And then this isn’t a house without books to read …

I’ll keep you posted about how things go as the weeks roll on.


Talking of books, when I put Emily Thomas’s The Meaning of Travel away alongside other travel books, I found a copy of Eric Newby’s Love and War in the Appenines. I couldn’t remember ever having read it before. Here’s one of the advantages of age; your bookshelves renew themselves!

Newby tells of his adventures as a prisoner of war and then afterwards, when he takes to the mountains, sheltered by courageous Italian peasants, in the process meeting Wanda who later becomes his wife. This perhaps isn’t one of the reflective, philosophically-coloured, travel books: but Newby’s story is very engaging as he draws some memorable characters, and sketches both a landscape and a lost way of life. I rattled through it in a few days; a very enjoyable  distraction from these differently troubled times.

1 thought on “From a small corner of Cambridge, 1”

  1. Since I watched the PM’s press conference earlier today and am watching this evening’s Parliamentary discussion now, I might be able to make some things a bit clearer.

    Everyone (not just the 70+) is now being advised to stop non-essential contact with others and to stop all unnecessary travel, to work from home if possible, and to avoid pubs, clubs, theatres, etc.

    There’s an additional measure that says those with certain health conditions should be largely shielded from social contact for around 12 weeks.

    PM statement on coronavirus: 16 March 2020

    Some things were further explained (clarified) by the Health Secretary in Parliament this evening. (Hansard)

    The measures on shielding are specifically for those who have significant health conditions and will be contacted by the NHS. They are not for the generality of over-70s who are healthy, for whom the guidance is the same as that for people of working age, except that we strongly advise, as opposed to advising.

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