I woke up this morning with a knot of anxiety in my stomach. In just a few days the world has changed. we are not watching a Netflix series about a deadly virus. We are in one. COVID-19 has made sure of that.
Working from home
It didn’t seem real at first. I am now working from home along with millions of others. This seems not too bad, I’m used to working freelance and have a ‘home office’ already set up. Not so everyone. People are requisitioning kitchen tables and children’s desks. Their kids are now at home full time. Many parents struggle with the task of amusing their children for the six weeks holidays. This is going to be a massive challenge for them. This will be a time that children will remember for the rest of their lives, that resilience we keep saying youngsters don’t have these days? Well they are going to be acquiring it right about now.
Panic buying food.
No one has suggested that there will be any shortage of food. Or toilet roll. Why are people panic buying provisions and fighting over toilet rolls? There still hasn’t been a satisfactory explanation of this behaviour. In my local Morrisons, particular shelves are stripped bare as if a plague of locusts have descended upon the shop. Locusts that only live on bread, pasta, biscuits, UHT milk and frozen chips. I have no problem buying a watermelon.
During my visit, extra staff were called to the toilet roll aisle when a delivery came in and there was a tussle over these items, previously considered nondescript. I asked a man at the check out who was buying a pile of lager and toilet rolls, what the deal was. ‘I am going to get drunk and sit on the toilet,’ he replied. Well I did ask. Distracted by this feral behaviour, I completely forgot to buy any toilet roll for myself at all.
COVID-19 Horror in Italy
I worked for a few months in Venice last year. I remember its beautiful narrow winding streets crowded with people. During the Venice carnival, police erected barriers, trying to divert the throng from the main thoroughfare. In the winter Venice was quite lovely, as spring and summer approached it became less so. Giant cruise ships nosed their way up the Guidecca canal spilling out thousands of tourists every day to make matters worse. Visitors seemed to think Venice was a kind of Disney land. ‘What time does Venice close?’ I heard one American ask.
Venice is now a deserted city. Shops, museums and restaurants have been closed for weeks. My friend Antoanella, a jewellery designer and business woman who lives and works there, has been in quarantine with her partner for many weeks. She has been sending me updates on what is happening there. They were hard to comprehend. I certainly had no premonition that what was happening there, was coming our way. Less than a fortnight ago plane loads of passengers were still coming into the UK from Northern Italy with no form of checks or testing. It was only matter of time.
She told me on whatsapp ‘ We can’t go anywhere – only to buy food or the pharmacy. The hospital is full there are no beds, no place to stay in the emergency department. People have died and there are no places in the cemetery. Yesterday 60 people died, the military are bringing the bodies to be stored at the cemetery. Horror in Italy. I can’t believe it.’