19 March, Norfolk, UK

By Francesca Wolf

I wake to a different day. Lying in bed the silence is like white velvet. Not a peep, a car, not even the odd plane rumbling overhead. Complete quiet covering everything. Like waking after a secret snowfall in the night to a white still world.

I am warm in bed and it feels like a nest. Last night was better than the two before where I lay like charged metal awake and dozed with seething dreams. Last night my dreams were busy too but softer and less threatening. It was comforting to hear Gillies’s breathing and to feel his arms around me.

I lie in bed and then I drift off again. Get up late at 9 and the sky is clear blue as a breakfast tray and the sun is shining. The days before were grey, damp and drizzly. This is beautiful. The birds have started singing.

When I come downstairs Gillies  tells me Matthew Parris on the radio said old people should be forced to stay at home. I feel myself becoming nervous at the thought of forced incarceration and decide to do some yoga. 

I did bring my mat.  I tell myself that I should do this every morning. Yoga is good except for the moments when the worries start creeping in.

It is anxiety that gets me every time. I lay one to rest and another pops up . Were it not for that I could enjoy this stillness more.  I am so very fortunate to be here . I have resources, that is not the problem. There are many things to do and I don’t mind a degree of isolation . The difficulties for me are I think: loss of control; lack of purpose; lack of a sense of contributing anything – more we are just the problem; loss of independence; and this nasty undermining free floating anxiety which attaches itself to first one thing, then another.

I am not scared of death or dying. But I am worried our affairs are not in order, that I don’t have everything clear and neatly filed, that I may leave a muddle. And I am terrified about what is happening to the world, about the dreadful situations so many people are in –cooped up in tiny spaces, in camps without clean water or soap, in abusive relationships, desperately sick, or desolate and alone.

I miss Ivana and Carla and the grandchildren.

I would like to be able to do something useful and purposeful.

I spend two hours pulling up brambles. I phone friends – all struggling in different ways and trying to keep sane. 

Later Ivana invites us to a Zoom meeting and for half an hour we swap silly faces with Frankie and Rowan. We will need to adjust to virtual relationships but I haven’t yet.

Will this be the new normality – atomised lives in separate spaces and digital rather than human, physical connections? This is so sudden, so shocking, so hard to take in. Massive. A punishment for our flabby complacency.   “ Things fall apart; the centre cannot not hold.”  

The normality of daily life – so precious and so hard to appreciate when it’s there. 

How long will this go on?