Diary of the Plague Year: Day 33 17 April 2020: Water for the Wildflowers

A cold and rainy day today. The plus factor is that my wildflower seeds will be watered.

Though I had decided whilst writing this diary not to dwell on the horrors of what is happening, and to some extent, am cocooned from it all living here in the country, the news from England is shattering.  The amount of deaths, the really heartbreaking stories of children left orphaned and very young healthy people dying before their time. Mothers giving birth and dying soon afterwards.  It is a cruel and unpredictable disease and seems to be affecting BAME men disproportionately.  Very strange.  The first eight health workers to die were all BAME, four of them doctors. The elderly in care homes are also dying by the dozen, today’s death rate over 800. Meanwhile 15,000 people are flying into London every day. The British Government have a lot to answer for and have made a real hash of it. Matt Hancock seems absolutely inadequate to the task and he and Priti Patel come across as absolutely heartless. This would not be so bad if they seemed to be half-way competent at managing the situation but this is far from the case.

What I find most shocking is that a study was made in 2016 about the UK preparedness for a pandemic such as this one and, after the findings showed that preparations were wholly inadequate, the study was quietly shelved. They are now paying the price.

Lockdown here will last until at least May 7th, maybe longer.  The Irish Government seems to have managed things so much better. The Cheltenham races went ahead when the pubs here had already shut and schools were closed. The UK were at least a week behind when it came to self-isolating.

One bright spot – an aged army officer, Captain Thomas Moore, 99, has been walking laps of his garden and hoped to raise £100 for charity and so far in about a week has raised – just going to quickly check the amount because it goes up by the minute – nearly £19 million. It has become a thing.

Went to visit B to see how she is getting on. She can now at least breathe. She tested negative though had all the classic symptoms.  Had a lovely, illicit, cappuccino in the front garden, though sitting well apart. By some apparent miracle I have been accepted onto what sounds like a really good online writing course, lasting ten weeks.  Am flabbergasted.

Have started to read Keats’ letters to Fanny Brawne when it must have been clear that there was no hope of them ever meeting again after he sailed for Italy … he was 26 when he died. I often used to walk past the plaque in St Thomas’ Street, on my way to work, which commemorated his time as a trainee surgeon at Guy’s. I feel he must have lacked the necessary element of psychopathy …

Diary of the Plague Year: Day 33 17 April 2020: Quotidian Poetry John Keats (1795-1821)




This living hand, now warm and capable
Of earnest grasping, would, if it were cold
And in the icy silence of the tomb,
So haunt thy days and chill thy dreaming nights
That thou would wish thine heart dry of blood
So in my veins red life might stream again,
And thou be conscience-calmed – see here it is –
I hold it towards you.


Love Letters and Poems
of John Keats to Fanny Brawne