1 EAGLETON NOTES: Isolation

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Sunday, 15 March 2020

Isolation

This post was started before there was any talk of the UK Government isolating over-70s for four months which is what I have just heard is a possibility.

A friend has decided to self isolate. Not because she has a cold or any similar symptoms but because she has not. Nor does she want any such symptoms. She is just younger than I am and has underlying chest issues as a result of cancer treatment (nothing to do with lungs as such).

It has made a lot of us, her friends, think. Apart from some obvious panic buying of toilet rolls, paracetamol and anti-bacterial cleaners, life seems to be going on as normal here. Certainly the walking groups were out in the woods yesterday despite the bad weather and The Woodlands was much busier than usual.

A lot of my friends are widowed or otherwise on their own and some have no family living on the Island. So self-isolation is quite an undertaking both physically and mentally. However when we all thought about it it made us realise just how fortunate 'we' all are: we all have a good social life and lots of friends and interests and many of us have family living here too.

It made me realise just how many elderly people are isolated without making it a choice. Many have no visitors. Many have no hobbies or interests. Many rarely get over their doorstep.

What is self-isolation? I live in an exceptionally sparsely populated place so can I go walking if I promise not to talk to other people close up? Can I go out in my car if I stay in the car?

Very selfishly I wondered what will happen to my drugs trial tablet supply? What will happen when, as it inevitably will especially if my kidney stent is not changed, I get another bout of sepsis?

Perhaps the least of my worries would be how I would cope with self-isolation. It won't be fun. I like going out. I rarely have a day without going out. However I have instant communication with so many friends all over the world via WhatsApp, FaceTime, Skype and the like as well as social media which, in my case, is mostly this blog. I will still write my letters (but will they be delivered?).

On the plus side I have a reasonably sized house with fabulous views and a garden which could occupy my every sunny day if we have any. I have enough unread books to keep me going for years never mind months. I have music and I have television.

More than that, though, I would have no excuse for not doing the things I've been trying to find time for: sorting 70 years of photos; drawing and painting; attacking the huge list of DIY jobs in the garage, garden shed, garden and house. The list is endless.

I'm okay for food for a while. When I worked I always kept a good stock so that whatever I fancied when I got in in the evening I could probably cook it. It could be bangers, mash and beans to a Thai green curry or a stir fry. 'A while' isn't very long though if one is isolating for any length of time.

But the loneliness and the inevitable anxiety will undoubtedly take its toll.

70 comments:

  1. As to some of your questions my take on it would be commonsense must prevail. Social media seems to have the downside that people over-think things out loud, and make something our of nothing, and cause unnecessary anxiety. I had not heard anything about isolating over 70s, and I note you say "talk of" and "what I have just heard", so does this imply that it is nothing more than rumour picked up and run with by social media? The difference between this and previous pandemics is we now have a much more mature social media platform than ever before and an epidemic of information as well to cope with if we let it.

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    1. Rachel, the information came from the Health Minister on the Andrew Marr Show. I am on Facebook and Twitter but rarely use them.

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    2. Perhaps this means he said things might possibly come to this. I don't know as I have not heard him. In 12 months time it will be looked back on as a time of total madness.

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    3. Why are you in such vehement denial, Rachel? Yes, sure, as you say maybe in a year's time "it will be looked back on as a time of total madness". So what? The worry is NOW. And for those of a certain age it is real. You may see a death as just a statistic not affecting you and your nearest and dearest but there are people out there you actually DIE or already have done so.

      As to the issue Graham mentions, namely, the over seventies advised to hunker down, it was all over the news (broadsheets no less, on line) yesterday evening. What are you saying? You missed the news so their content can't be real?

      Sorry, Graham, I know you like to keep the peace as indeed do I. But sometimes people need to be shaken to awake.

      In good news, and how amazing is that, that youngsters, babies, don't seem to be affected at all. Makes you think, doesn't it. Divine intervention as to people life expectancy too long.

      In the meantime, Graham, I am gutted over that mouse I mentioned yesterday. An infestation, as experienced a few years ago, is one thing. The whole mouse population "anonymous(e)" as it were. Just the ONE? I am in the early stage of bonding. It sits on top of the radiator. In the lounge. Unperturbed. A little ball of fur. Blast. Blast. Blast and blast.

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    4. Thank you for your input, Ursula. I think the effects one way or another will be considerable psychologically and economically both for individuals and society as a whole.

      I don't believe that your mouse has actually shown his/her face. Oh heavens. Presumably it doesn't bear you any ill will.

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    5. So nothing Ursula. I will take my own approach and endanger nobody. I don't need telling and I don't think others do either. Fear breeds fear and people fear being out of control so they panic buy for control.

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    6. I think you misunderstand me totally Ursula. I have no denial about the virus, my concern is the herd mentality of people.

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    7. I don't believe anything told to me by news channels Ursula. The news channels disect and arrange news so that it is told in the way they want it to be heard to their political agenda and quotes are made out of context, with preceding bits missing, and meanings altered.

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    8. Rachel, I am not getting at you. As you know I am always up for discussion. I also believe that different views fertilize rather than diminish our own.

      If I may reply to some of the points you have made in your replies to me:

      You say you (and others) don't "need telling". Alas, in times of uncertainty, not least when it comes to that which we don't "know" (in this case a virus), we do rely on being told (by experts, say, doctors) what to do, what not to do. I am one of those people, rather like a cockroach which believes that nothing can touch me. That's cloud cookoo land. Head in sand. The eternal optimist. Doesn't alter facts.

      You mention "herd mentality". Which, as an aside, is rather funny since the UK has now been criticized (internationally) for doing just that "herding it out". Let nature takes its course. Decimate. Self adjust. Which, as a neutral concept, I do agree with. But there are always exceptions to the rule. Who wants to die before strictly necessary? Anyway, joking aside, I do agree with you, herd mentality is something to be feared. I will not mention Brexit and sheep jumping off the cliff (follow the leader) in the face of opposing expediency as not to annoy you even further.


      Yes, sigh, sheep/herd mentality. Makes you think. For all we know (and some conspiracy theories already taking hold) that this whole virus is overplayed to keep "us" under control. Divide and conquer. We are divided into our individual abodes (with no tinned tomatoes and little toilet paper left - silly me), being fed news via the usual channels and the streets are empty. Great. Tell that to the French Revolution in hindsight. Still, mustn't go all Kafka here. But, yes, it's a good point you make. Which feeds, and I hope you see the irony, exactly into the herd mentality of humankind. Play on fear, the unknown, exploit. Or, and I am not saying you are, IGNORE.

      As to your mentioning "news channels". I wouldn't know about that. On principle I do not WATCH news. I realized a long long time ago that they are noise. Hot air. People say so little in so much time. I restrict myself to the written word. I read respected broadsheets (those of more than one country's/language). The factual. Opinion pieces. And, of course, I visit blogland (here, and over at yours); I take note of friends' views (not least those from the motherland who question everything) and the Angel (my son). By necessity of our relationship he is considerably younger than me. He is also hugely intelligent and inquisitive. No stone left unturned in his inquiry into the world's ways; his life still largely ahead of him. Makes interesting listening. Makes for interesting, indeed enlightening discussions.

      Yes, so that was that, exhale. Hope I haven't outstayed Graham's welcome. Not that I ever do apologize for my existence. Take heart, Rachel.

      U

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  2. If this proposed isolation of the over 70s does indeed get the go- ahead, I wonder how this would be enforced.
    How can you physically restrain a whole demographic of the population from going out to buy food or medicines or other essentials if they have no other means of getting them?
    I am picturing scenes reminiscent of some futuristic sci-fi films with armed troops rounding up anyone with grey hair and wrinkles.

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    1. JayCee, I'm not sure that you can enforce it easily easily in a country such as ours. However it would appear that Italy has succeeded to some extent. How long that will last, I would not like to speculate. I'm sure we shall all just take it as it comes.

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  3. I just posted (on a different tangent) about the virus, too. You're right, it's having lots of effects on people beyond just the illness. Panic is making people dangerous. I wish more people would just relax, and be smart about things. Panic never makes good decisions.

    I, for one, am glad you live where you do - where you can get fresh air, and keep yourself entertained. The health concerns are a worry, as you said. Are you able to get your meds mailed to you? I don't think they're stopping the mail...

    Stay healthy, and you can always talk to me, GB. We can Skype or call or email - you're not alone.

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    1. Marcheline, thank you, dear friend. I'm fortunate in that I'm not alone and, in any case, I tend not to get on my own nerves too much anyway. I probably annoy other people more that I do myself! I'm hoping they will mail my meds. The problem is that being a drugs trial they usually do two days with scans and then the full medical. The question in my mind is if they do not will it compromise the trial? I think it's already gone far enough so hopefully a missed medical can be coped with. And, yes, this is a pretty good place to be.

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  4. Let me echo that last sentence from your last commenter, stay healthy and think of all the friends out there who would love to hear from you either on their blogs, their emails or Instagram! And I am sure you have a long list of books to read, am I right? Take care!

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    1. Thank you, Kay. I'm not actually too worried about myself. The last sentence was really a general one which I think will affect everyone who is isolated.

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    2. By the way, Kay, you are correct. I have enough books and things to do to last me until I'm 80 at least.

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  5. I suspect this isolation nonsense came from Matt Hancock, Matt Hancock is Burgon's dimmer step brother. The good news is that Germany is closing it's borders on Monday. Pity they didn't think of doing so ten years ago.
    How are they going to enforce isolation without ID cards? What are they going to do with all the enrichers who can't prove who they are? It's all just rubbish.

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  6. Your thoughts have echoed mine. This government seem to me to be making very stupid decisions. So lets isolate all those over a certain age, who perhaps need social company and let everyone else get it, don't both with testing, without any sanctions put in place. Let's not actually be proactive. They could have done so much more, but no. I for one will self isolate myself as having been ill most of last year from a am immuno-suppressed, so not good news. Fortunately I don't mind my own company and have been getting used to being on my own these last almost six weeks. I will still go for walks, I rarely meet anyone, and if I see anyone I won't be going close to them that is for sure. Going to go out tomorrow to get a few essential supplies and then I am going to hunker down for a while and hope for the best. It is indeed a worry.

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    1. Serenata, I wish you the best of good fortune and may you, your walks and your garden keep well and prosper.

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    2. I feel people who depend on being active may have difficulty staying at home. I won't have thay problem as I have less than a dozen visitors a year, and rarely visit anyone. When I stay home too much, I force myself to get out and about. Blogging helps. Texting is tons of relief for connecting. Skype, face chatting not my thing. First time talked to grandchild on phone he said, "I can't see you." lol

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    3. Maywyn, my house is often the home to friends and visitors but for various reasons (storms and floods elsewhere included) most of my staying friends have called off so far this year. I think everyone else will probably call off too now. I'm not sure how I will face up to isolation. Time will tell.

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    4. Perhaps use the phone more Graham, talk to people via that, (which I am sure you probably do already). I hope you will do okay. It is a difficult thing.

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    5. Serenata, I spend quite a lot of time on WhatsApp, FaceTime and my phone as well as emails and snail mail letters. It's never quite the same as a chat over a cup of coffee but at least it's not complete isolation.

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  7. I'm kind of self-isolating at the moment - even if not completely. I try to stay away from crowds and close contact with others for now. But since I feel no symptoms of infection myself so far, I've not stopped going out for walks. Last week I checked and updated my supply of medicines, so as to (hopefully) be able to stay away from the pharmacy for a while; and this week I ordered groceries online with home delivery (which I do regularly anyway, and could do more frequently if needed). But I made one exception yesterday when I happened to be walking by a florist's shop that I noticed was empty except for the staff :) I think as long as we are not officially under any specific restrictions, we must just try to apply "common sense" - and respect for others.

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    1. Monica, that sounds to me like a very sensible approach to the situation.

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  8. This “self isolation for the over 70s” sounds like a done deal to me, with today’s media briefings probably being done to soften up the mindset so that when it is brought in, no-one is surprised.

    Great post Graham, and I am asking myself many of the same questions - can I go fell walking when one of the (normal) prime reasons for doing so is to be as far away from other people as possible? Can I take the campervan out and sit and have a cuppa for the mental health benefits of being in the van and having a lovely view?

    Like you, more books than I can read in this lifetime and the next, the garden always wants more attention than it gets and plenty of hobbies.

    My fears are not for the illness itself but for the economic effect this will have not only on our country, but the whole world. I suspect business, and much that we have been taking for granted for the last couple of decades may be very different in a year’s time. My best wishes to you and your friends for staying well - physically and mentally 🙂

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    1. Thank you, Jayne. I'm certainly concerned for the effect on medical services in general. I agree with you that the economic consequences world wide could be considerable and potentially the worst we've seen in our lifetime.

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  9. Greetings from the state of Maine. It certainly is a most strange period in our lives. The quiet here at the base of the mini-mountain is lovely. My gardens are calling me to come out and play but it's too mucky to parade about in my garden boots. I'm anxious to plant s'more wildflower seeds on top of the remaining light cover of snow. Like you, I have a health concern at the moment. I'm faced w/ needing to make a trip to the hospital as an out-patient for a biopsy and am dreading exposure to people. You certainly are not selfish in thinking about it your trial meds and your stent. Sending you best wishes.

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    1. Well, Regina M, I hope that all goes well for you: both with the exposure to people and for the biopsy.

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  10. I very much agree with everything you have written. I have been self isolating for five days now, and it seems longer. Much longer. I am here in California and this is voluntary on my part, as I am old, ha! I admit it.

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    1. Terra, I think a lot of us are suddenly realising that we are no longer young.

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  11. You describe the situation well. It isn't easy or funny to be quarantined. For an introvert like me it would be great.

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    1. Red, I agree that some people will find being quarantined more easily than others.

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  12. Self-isolation doesn't concern me. It's nothing out of the normal for me, anyway. I always keep to myself...I am, by choice, a bit of a hermit...more than a bit.

    I enjoy my own company and never feel the need or desire to have others around me, or for me to be around them. I don't go out every day. Having to do so would drive me insane! Usually, I go out to the local supermarket once a week. I've always been one to keep a well-stocked larder, fridge and freezer...and supply of toilet paper. I've never panic-bought in my life...and I don't intend starting now.

    I've not yet run out of commonsense, either. But, seeing, reading about the behaviour of some...many others have misplaced commonsense...if they ever had any in the first place!

    I do live alone...with my two furry mates...so I am solely dependent on me to do for me. And, my two furry mates are dependent on me. So I keep their needs well-covered, too. I ask nothing of anyone.

    Boredom and lonely are two words that have never been in my vocabulary in reference to me...or a part of my life.

    Take care, Graham. :)

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    1. Lee, I can't say that I'm prone to boredom or loneliness either but then I am fortunate in having lots to do and lots of interests and the choice to see people when I want to. It is the latter choice that will be removed and I'm not quite sure how I'll react to that.

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  13. I am feeling that the ramifications of this virus, such as the break-down of our national economies, are becoming worse than the virus itself. Whatever we do or don't do, this disease is at some stage going to go through every community and some people are unfortunately going to die. Covid-19 is not going to go away, and all governments can do is slow down its pace of transmission so our health systems can better respond to it. We cannot stay isolated forever. Take care, Mxx

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    1. Margaret, I agree with you completely. How the economies are going to cope is a big concern. Hopefully at some stage, as with all other epidemics, we will come through and there will be a vaccine until the next one comes along.

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  14. I would go mad if I was unable to leave the house. Living out in the countryside, I shall continue to walk the dog, saw wood for the fire, and pick Spinach from the garden; without these things I would slowly expire. Yesterday was a beautiful day, so I mowed all the lawns, the orchard, and my veg' garden. If anyone tries to prevent me from doing all these essentials, I shall not be happy.

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    1. Cro, if I had a dog I would do likewise. My garden is only ⅓ acre but that's enough to keep me occupied.

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  15. I don't know yet whether I am expected at the office tomorrow or not, whether my hairdresser's appointment is going to come about on Wednesday or not, whether my (small) birthday party will happen this weekend or not, whether the next two pub quizzes my team and I have signed up for are going to take place or not, whether O.K. and I will actually be able to go on our hiking holiday in May, whether my sister and I will be allowed to travel to Yorkshire in June or not.
    All this uncertainty is hard to deal with for me. If it should come to me working from home for the next few weeks or even months, that wouldn't be difficult; I am already WFH quite a bit, and can easily communicate with my clients on the phone and via email.
    But I selfishly do not want to have my trips to O.K. interrupted, and I definitely do not want to be confined to my four walls all the time - I love and need to walk, and occasionally run.

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    1. Meike, I do hope that you manage to get through this with a minimum of inconvenience and without catching the virus. At least you have the advantage of youth on your side.

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    2. Oh, how I WISH I could work from home! Virus or not. It would be heavenly.

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  16. Graham I have self isolated my husband and me because we fall into the red zone and at 85 and 93 would have a slim to none chance of recovery should we become infected. So, I stocked with all the things we regularly use, enough for 2-3 weeks; now I wish I'd prepared for longer.

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    1. Gosh, Jill, I'd never have put you in that age category given your youthful approach to things. I certainly would be self-isolating in those circumstances. As it is I've little doubt I and many like me will be in isolation probably sooner rather than later. I wish you both well in the months to come.

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    2. Graham thank you for that observation. I try to keep up! It is increasingly more difficult as the years roll by. I see my husband of 62 years in an irreversible decline and it terrifies me. So I diligently work crosswords, do jigsaws, and read, read, read. Your blog begins my day and I want you to know I've come to rely on it.

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    3. Jill, that is one of the most rewarding comments I've ever had. I shall try and live up to your expectations.

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    4. It's a humbling moment when you realize that something you do for fun is actually part of someone else's life, and something they consider important.

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  17. I could just copy and paste Lee's comments. She even uses the term my kids apply to me - a bit of a hermit. I'll quite happily self isolate. But I know it would be difficult for you, you're such a social, active person. I know you wouldn't want to worry your friends, so please look after yourself, the best way you can.

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    1. It's very strange, Pauline. I am a social animal with my friends and I do love chatting over coffee in The Woodlands, all my visitors who stay and so on. I've always been able to cope on my own but, until now, it's never been enforced isolation for an indefinite period of time. So who knows how many of us will react.

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  18. I hear you. Fortunately, our daughter and family live 1 mile from us, so we aren't totally isolated. You're right--it is an opportunity to do all those things that we've put off.

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    1. Susan, you are fortunate in having family help nearby. My son and family live 15 miles away but they are in Australia at the moment and when they get back will be in isolation too. Fortunately I do have a neighbour under 70 who has offered to get shopping.

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  19. Very wise of your friend and it sounds like you are on the right track. I've been reading in other countries people are stockpiling and freaking out with their shopping, luckily here in NZ we manufacture our own loo paper and grow our own produce/meat etc so it hasn't been too bad. Where does your medication get imported from?

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    1. Amy, we manufacture our own loo paper too. A manufacturer was on the television showing his warehouse and capability. He has plenty of raw material. It's been a very peculiar phenomenon.

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  20. You should be fairly well isolated on an island. Like you I have loads of jobs to do. We are self social distancing as ordered by our concerned daughters.

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    1. Diane, so far there are no known cases on the Island. Cruise ships have cancelled. It's not tourist season yet so it's just a matter of people who come back here from abroad isolating themselves. I suspect that our summer festival which brings people from all over the world will be cancelled.

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  21. Strange times. Blogging may be more important than ever. Keeping connected. Supporting others. Maintaining a window on the world that the TV news cannot match. Having a chuckle sometimes.

    I hear what you say about using self-isolation as a spur to get things done - all those things we meant to do but put off.

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    1. YP, I think we are going to need quite a few chuckles because they could be few and far between in the media. Today has been a first test. It was glorious when I rose at 7am but by time I'd had breakfast even I was daunted by the bitter, strong wind and rain. so abandoned my morning walk. Normally I'd have something arranged anyway but today I hadn't so I decided to stay in. The morning has been filled but largely with routine chores and procrastination. C'est la vie.

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    2. "Procrastination is the spice of life!" I heard a woman student shouting that from a hall pf residence at The University of Stirling one Sunday afternoon in 1976. I have always remembered it for some odd reason.

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    3. Good heavens. YP, what a memory you have. It is a curious thing to say. I'll have to think about it.....sometime.

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    4. I'm a world class procrastinator ... I wrote a draft novel ten years ago and I've been meaning to shred it ever since and haven't gotten it done.

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    5. That really is procrastination, Jill. I'd just accept that it's not going and leave it where it is.

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  22. I do hope you manage to get out in your car Graham, you could drive to somewhere with your camera so that we can all enjoy seeing photographs of the wonderful scenery on Lewis. Keeping a 10 metre distance from others on Lewis shouldn't be too difficult so long as you give the Woodlands a miss for a while.

    It feels as though I'm having a bad dream and that any time soon I will wake up and find that it's really not happening.

    I did make the suggestion to David that we get out the emulsion paint and give the dining room and a couple of bedrooms a spruce up. He was less than impressed with my good idea. (He very often is) lol. We both have hobbies as you know, so entertaining ourselves isn't really a problem but social contact is what we will miss. I hope the internet servers will be able to cope when everyone is working from home, that way we can chat to our blog friends regularly and won't feel so isolated.

    Take care.
    Regards Beverley

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    1. Beverley, I've been wondering how you've been getting on particularly as you have a weekend non-isolator. I went to the supermarket just after 6am this morning thinking it would be pretty quiet. Tesco was remarkably busy. The Coop was empty. But neither had any fresh produce on offer. C'est la vie. My walks are still possible.

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  23. Graham, I have just replied to your comment on Rachel's blog - but for some reason she has taken against me and deleted the comment. There are indeed Seurats at both Kelvingrove and the Walker.

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    1. Thank you, Veg Artist. I'm glad that my memory is still semi-functioning at least.

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  24. This morning on the television it was referred to as physical isolation and physical distancing, as an attempt to emphasise the importance of still remaining social by other means.
    I hope you are still able to get out walking. It's good for the soul. X

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    1. Thank you, Jules. Yes. I can still get out walking and my day has been punctuated liberally by messaging and phone calls. It also helped that I spent a couple of hours in the sunshine in the garden....albeit finishing my new bin store.

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