COVID-19 Diaries. Day Two- Ghost Town, Bright Lights, Busy City

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Watchet, Somerset, UK, 24th March 2020 23:30

This has been the first day in which the UK had to start getting used the new measures brought in by the government. Here in sleepy West Somerset, people seem to have responded well and with a degree of stoicism and acceptance. The news coming in from London are very different; it seems that quite a lot of people are still going to work and people on the Tube are packed like sardines, as usual. It must be terrifying to have to go to work on public transport in these circumstances. I feel for those workers who don’t have a choice, whether because they fear for their jobs and livelihoods or those heroes who are fighting on the frontline of the Coronavirus pandemic.

I felt very privileged that I can now do all my work remotely, both teaching and counselling. Today was teaching and it was an interesting day. Students and staff are having to get used to this new way of working. It never ceases to amaze me how quickly we humans can adapt to change when we need to. A week ago most of us counsellors would only work via video link if unavoidable. A week later, it feels as if we had been doing it forever. We’ve been chucked in at the deep end and we have learnt to swim pretty quickly.

After a challenging but productive day working online, I went out for my government permitted exercise outing with my dog Barley. It walked around the town of Watchet which was absolutely deserted, not a soul in sight. It was so eerily quiet that I could hear the odd vehicle from miles away on the A39. Walking back over Williton Hill, I took a look at the landscape on this clear night, looking over the Bristol Channel to Cardiff in Wales and wondering how things are there.

I saw in the near distance the lights at the Hinkley Point C nuclear reactor build, which is still carrying on as it is designated as essential infrastructure. It made me wonder how things are there for the thousands of workers who are based there.

I visited the HPC site a few months ago for work and it left quite an impression on me. It is huge and really impressive. But it was the people that I noticed the most. Thousands of workers (90% male) from all over the world, on temporary contract so they were away from their families. I felt a real sense of loneliness in their faces. I wonder how they are feeling now. I wondered how many stories of anxiety and separation are going on beneath the glow of the lights and the cranes. It made me feel grateful for having my family nearby and a nice warm home to go to.

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I looked South and took in the stars on this clear night and was awestruck by the beauty and the enormity of the cosmos. But then I became aware of an invisible shadow moving slowly towards us from that direction. Like the nothingness in Michael Ende’s Never-ending Story, it is engulfing us slowly but steadily. It is coming, we can sense it but we cannot see it.

But not tonight. Tonight I will go home to my bed and enjoy the nurturing warmth of my family. Tonight, I will have shelter from the oncoming storm.

Tonight’s song is by Bob Dylan: Shelter from the storm

World-wide confirmed cases: 417,966

World-wide deaths: 18,615

World-wide recovered: 107,705

UK confirmed cases: 8,164

UK deaths: 422

UK recovered: 135


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