7 Nov 2020

There can be nobody in the world not touched by Covid 19, with the exception perhaps of Trappist monks. Countries will be having nervous breakdowns about their economies, and in competition to be the first to discover a vaccine, and get the Nobel Prize. I was thinking back on dramas, global, national, personal, and wonder if this one will fade into just ‘another little local difficulty’ in time, to be superseded by others. I have been landed with hundreds of books, one of them a pictorial record of Winston Churchill. What ‘take’ would he have had on the crisis?

1956 was the ‘Suez’ crisis. We were driving to Devon to visit my parents-in-law. Over Wiltshire plain came hundreds of armoured vehicles, camouflaged for the desert. My young husband and 6-month son were with me. We were 11 years from the last major conflict (small matter of Korea in between). My thought was ‘They will take my husband away from me’. 20 years and 4 more children later that baby was struck by lightning. Going through the garden, with an umbrella, lightning struck the ferrule and hurled him to the ground. Shaken, with the highest pulse rate I have ever encountered, we phoned the doctor. He said it is a ‘toss up’; the heart withstands the shock, or it does not, luckily it did.

His brother caused panics – a ‘global’ worry at the time – he went back and forth on to North Sea oil rigs, and there were a lot of helicopter accidents (Bristow, I think) he did admit to some nasty moments. In 1998 he was in Jakarta, major revolution to depose the then president – would have got a mention in world press. The Indonesians were ‘torching’ anything Chinese. From my son’s office, 20+ floors up, he could see many fires burning between him and his son’s school. They got out with four hours’ notice – we did not hear they were safe for 24 hours, nail-biting time.

A daughter was working in Doha, as American forces massed on its borders to attack Iraq – a mis-fired missile, curtains. Then she phoned another time ‘Mum, I wanted to tell you as soon as possible that I am alright’. I thanked her, but what for? She was in America at 9/11. We were crossing the channel on a ferry that had no news in the public areas. Another son had a scratch on his knee (he was 4 years old). It swelled up alarmingly – he was rushed into the orthopaedic hospital, suspected osteomylitis, and possible amputation. When we found out it was ‘only’ septicaemia it was quite a relief. This one has just said that he might possibly go, after retirement, to do up a house in Goa (Portuguese partner). I told him that I do not wish to live to a hundred like my Ma and ma-in-law. But dangle a bait like Goa, and I might try! Poor lad! The thought of his doddery old Ma following him to Goa!

Do you see yourself as a survivor?

The Gardener

A Moodscope member.

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