Coronavirus Diary 17 – Social Distancing with Opera, Fräuleins and the low-skilled!

I was reading this morning that the social restrictions the government have put in place a month ago have been so successful that they are worried on how to convince people to come out again once it is safe to do so.

I’d go a step further and say except for the whole Coronavirus, I don’t really want this to end.  Apart from periods of melancholy which I’m prone to living alone in anycase, I rather like this eye of a hurricane existence that we’re living in now. It’s only really reinforced how I think life should be lived in the first place and I’m not sure I am ready for the cars, the commotion, the hustle and bustle, the greed and the noise.

It’s giving me time to do what I actually want to do.  I’m able to read; watch theatre albeit on the internet.   Last night I watched the marvellous Andrea Bocelli with his Music For Hope performance given to offer the hope of Easter to Italy and the wider world.   I must say it was wonderful and I particularly enjoyed Sancta Maria.   33 million people have watched it online so far and I can only query what the other 7 billion people have been doing in their self-isolation.

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You can view the 25 minute performance on the link above which included a few moments of a deserted London to match the deserted Milan, Paris and New York.  I must have walked through that square a thousand times last year, it was nice to see it again.

No-one should get the idea that I am some artsy toff.  I think I’m just very eclectic.  Before watching this I watched the old Where Eagles Dare film, I listened to some jazz on a French radio station whilst musing over Wrestlemania the night before.  I read an article on some obscure Tudor history and then sang and danced to Prince Charming of Adam and the Ants fame whilst making a meal in the kitchen.

With it being Easter and talking about Where Eagles Dare I can let you into two secrets.  As a child I never quite got how Jesus went from being born at Christmas and then 3 or 4 months later died as a young man.  Did he age rapidly like a pet?  No-one ever explains these things to children.    I spent 8 or 9 Easters wondering about this and then wondered why do we do Easter every year.  If he died as a man aged 33 or 34 why not celebrate it every 33 or 34 years?   I’m willing to admit that the rapidly ageing idea worked out well as a 6 year old and not so much as a 46 year old but thinking about it just now for the first time in 35 years or so, I think the childhood me was onto something about why not celebrating Easter every few decades.

I’ve mentioned lots of times how when I was a child I never watched cartoons or childrens shows but liked for some reason grown-up films especially historical related.  The Great Escape, Khartoum, Lawrence of Arabia, Zulu, The Greatest Story Ever Told come to that…. even watched Halloween when I was just over 3.  So the warning signs were there how I’d turn out! There were lots of upsides of watching grown-up films and learning a skewered at least look at history.  I also got to learn lots of German.  Even as a 10 year old I’d fancy my chances of escaping from Nazi Germany using my vocabulary leaned from films like The Great Escape, Where Eagles Dare and that sort of thing.

It only really caught me out twice.  One was when in Germany on a business trip, the person I was with made some reference to a line from The Great Escape about having our papers checked at security which earned him a scowl and the other was when I first started learning German properly at college I remember being asked by the teacher to name a popular German name for ladies.  I volunteered Fräulein, surely that had to be a very popular name for women in Germany for every old WW2 film has practically all German women called Fräulein.    I’d not get into such trouble if I had watched Bambi instead but if you ever want someone to buy you train tickets undercover in Europe then there is probably no-one better than myself!

I wonder if it is wrong being able to do things that one wants to do in a quiet little way?  I think it’s called early retirement though in truth I’ve never been career minded.  At 16 and 18 and indeed after university I did not have one clue what I wanted to do when I grew up.  I didn’t even want to be a footballer or a pilot when I was 8.  I quite fancied being a Victorian style explorer on horseback but I was assured that was quite impossible these days given my family couldn’t afford to look after a horse.   Really back then and now, I just want to be in peace and not be ill,  though I reserve the right to go off exploring on a horse again one day.

I also really love these special moral boosting totally free events but not because I like free things although I do, I just like the spontaneity of people offering what they have to help others.  The forced good times of New Year or holiday weekends are always so fake and revolve around money or getting drunk.  The world doesn’t really want you to have a good time, they only want your money but that’s not the case here.

I must have done more things for me the last month than the last 10 years combined, even if the me things are just sitting in the sun wrapped in a jacket having a cup of tea or watching the sun rise.  Of course I watch the sun rise almost every day but always in a rush to leave the house by around 6.30am and watching the sun rise takes a bit of time and attention.

It’s also been nice not have to actively avoid stupid things that the media obsess over such as football, celebrities, affairs, opinions of very rich but not always bright names who think they matter.   Harry and Meghan moved house again and no-one cared-less.  The philosopher A C Grayling who in many ways seems to be the least philosophic person I know of has spent much of the last few years castigating the low-skilled people who voted in ways he would not, inadvertently admitted it is the low-skilled people who are saving the world.  But it was forever thus?

I’m not sure where this snobbery over working or low-skilled people came from. My father was very much like that and hated using public transport for example and mixing with people rather than driving alone.  Me, I always liked mixing with people and thought it rather aristocratic that I could pay someone to drive me on the bus so I didn’t have to do it myself!

In the times before the end of days was upon us, I would sometimes meet with a friend for a hot drink in a cafe and in all those times I think we have only ever drank alone two or three times.  Invariably we will end up sharing our table or more often gate-crashing a table where a home-less or somewhat destitute person is sat alone, socially isolating because everyone else thinks this unfortunate person is beneath them.   It’s possible, likely even that my friend just finds me unbearably boring or me her but I don’t think so.

A little like the old phrase of a drunk man says what a sober man thinks, I find that one can learn a lot spending as much time as possible with people who are different from you.  I’ve never had problems with meeting ‘different’ people.  I’ve always hated meeting people but if I have to meet them then let them be different I say!!  Whether Presidents or homeless, heart surgeons or dust-bin men, I have no favourites which is lucky in my job… everyone will get treated like a king or queen.

It would be nice if they abandoned all those stupid award ceremonies and instead concentrated on the low-skilled people or those who save others. Not necessarily the doctors and nurses as wonderful as they are but how about  The person who works 12 hours a day for 21 days in a row in the hot laundry room washing hospital bed sheets.  They have so much to offer the world compared to a Cardassian, whatever they do.

The mayor of Watford, the town I used to live in until January and still just 3 or 4 miles away has said he has never been prouder of the people as the crisis has let people show their true colours there and it is true, the angels of this world have at last unfurled their wings but people should be like more often and if people have shown their true colours then what does that say for the despicable hoarders or those who flout the good of the society for their own selfish desires?

Given the world is so overpopulated wouldn’t it be great if we could all sign up for a mass euthanasia only for it to be part of some grand plan where it is revealed those who were late to sign up or didn’t at all are the ones we can do without and the rest of us could carry one without being burdened by them. That selfish 20% or so who think they are better than everyone else and particularly that 5% of hoarders, flouting the isolation rules, self-important celebrities and profit-driven big business.  I’d also hope that people can see how to not act so selfishly when this is over as the Coronavirus is just a totally small part of the issues facing the world today.

I think that could only improve the world but as that can’t happen I’m going to put a fleece jacket on and going and sit in the garden for 15 minutes, with or without a tramp and think how much better it would be if people would just be.

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About Stephen Liddell

I am a writer and traveller with a penchant for history and getting off the beaten track. With several books to my name including a #1 seller, I also write environmental, travel and history articles for magazines as well as freelance work. Recently I've appeared on BBC Radio and Bloomberg TV and am waiting on the filming of a ghost story on British TV. I run my own private UK tours company (Ye Olde England Tours) with small, private and totally customisable guided tours run by myself!
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3 Responses to Coronavirus Diary 17 – Social Distancing with Opera, Fräuleins and the low-skilled!

  1. George says:

    This is wonderful. So much I agree with and relate to, which possibly stems from the fact I had the same confusion about Jesus’s short life, when I was little. I was a big Lawrence of Arabia fan too.

    I can’t help noticing how loud the birdsong sounds, and how blue is the sky, now it’s free of vapour trails.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Your comment made my day George! I’ve never met anyone else with the same confusion about Jesus. I love your blog; I was born in Cumbria and my family were all from there. St John in the Vale is lovely and I keep meaning to write about the history of Dunmail Raise. Funnily yesterday I went to the oldest Oak tree in Middlesex in one of the last remnants of what used to be called St John’s Wood and that too was from the Knights of St. John. How amazing that they had such an epic reach across the world almost 1,000 years ago.

      Liked by 1 person

      • George says:

        Thank you, Stephen. That’s lovely to hear. Yes, indeed, I wonder how many other places with St John in the name trace back to the Knights Hospitaller. Quite a few I would imagine.

        Liked by 1 person

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