“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” opens the classic A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. And once again when things turn from bad to worse, on what seems like a daily basis, we are reminded of the power of human kindness. It’s strange that sometimes we need a collective kick up the backside to remember to think about each other. When we have a common enemy we draw together, but without we are our own worst enemy.
It is amazing how all our other problems fall like leaves in autumn when something so serious arises on the horizon. Nobody is talking about Brexit, North Korea, Iran or even Trump. The world truly has no borders, only the borders that man has made. They just seem so inconsequential in light of the bigger picture.
“It was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness,” the second line from Dickens. So we are getting used to a different way of life, at least for the immediate future. I have started to spend my quarantine days learning Maths. I say quarantine days because I have had an annoying cough for a few days. And I say Maths as, along with the school children throughout the country, I used to watch sport on TV and now I watch maths, geography and history. And by the way there is no way that I would pass maths!! It is of course a time that we all need to draw together. A time to help those who can’t help themselves, to pull together, because it is amazing what we can do when we all pull in the same direction. Often our problem is that one person in pulling, one pushing and one arguing that we shouldn’t push or pull.
“Neighbour, have got any room in your garage for a few thousand toilet rolls,” joked my next door neighbour. And yes, it is a time for humour. I can just imagine when this is all over, and it must come to an end, the menus in homes up and down the country. “OK, today we have pasta with olive oil, followed by rice pudding and by the way we still have another 27 loaves of bread to eat…anyone for a glass of milk?” I can remember my mother-in-law once saying that if you have flour in your house then you’ll never be hungry. Hungry, maybe not. Bored, probably yes. And there are no signs that this virus produces diarrhoea, so why toilet rolls? Are people making face masks from rolls of Violeta?
By the time you read this column you’ll either be working from home, or wishing that you were working from home. Social contact in these remote times will be a problem, and if you were thinking that being on social media would give you some human touch, think again. There is probably nothing as anti-social as social media. Of course there is another way to forget the current pandemic. Be a contestant of Big Brother in Germany. You would think that everyone on the planet knows the word coronavirus. No these contestants weren’t told about the virus. They have been blissfully unaware of the chaos whilst locked away in a house together. In fact, only last night were they actually told of the situation, for the past weeks people have been tuning in and watching a group of people talking about anything and everything apart for the virus. I guess it was some light relief for all the viewers.
If you watch too much news these days, you’ll go mad. “It was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity,” the third line from Mr. Dickens. Yes, we are living in those times now Charles.
It will probably get worse before it gets better, but it will get better. And in the meantime we must remain united. Or as Charles Dickens said “Have a heart that never hardens, and a temper that never tires, and a touch that never hurts.” Keep safe and keep those hands clean!