These last few days have been so strange and so completely different from anything I expected to run into in my lifetime that I’m still not quite sure if it’s a dream and I’ll wake up and find Dominic Cummings screaming with laughter and shouting ‘Pre-April Fool!’
Where else but in a dream would I be counting the toilet rolls in the cupboard or seeing my local supermarket looking like a bank-robber’s convention or finding not a single restaurant open in the whole country.
The spirit of Python was always respectful of the absurd and the surreal. It was our stock in trade. Now we are asked to believe that a bat in China has closed down the cricket season without a ball being bowled, car factories are making ventilators, a French company is turning bras into face-masks and filming on Casualty has been halted for fear of there being too many casualties. Python has been completely upstaged by real-life.
I find myself in an odd position. Just a half-year after having my heart repaired and feeling ready to kick-start my life for a last sprint to the Great Tape In The Sky, I find the sky isn’t where I thought it was. It’s much closer. In fact were I to stop washing my hands and standing two metres away from everybody it might be right outside my door.
I’ve spent a lot of time writing at home and have always found self-isolating to be a necessary evil. But it’s much easier when everyone else is doing it. Apart, of course, from those who are out there trying to make us all better.
And I’m getting use to spending the days looking out of the window, hoping a sparrow will come by with an idea and thinking about the glass of wine I shall have this evening. 52 years of married life have made my wife and I experts on co-existence, and Hampstead Heath is not a bad prison yard.
That’s today. Yesterday is a place to avoid, nostalgia being a forbidden fruit right now, but tomorrow is the one I have most trouble dealing with. What will it look like and when will it look like what it will look like? Predictions fly around and theories sprout from bushes, but in the end William Goldman’s dictum about Hollywood – “Nobody knows anything” – has been proved right again.
Stay well, Stay indoors. God bless our National Health Service and be glad of what we have. Sunshine, good neighbours and three series of This Country.