by Jon Biddle

I See Fields of Green, Red Roses Too.

“ I have felt lately, more and more, that my present way of living is bad in every respect.”

Thomas Hardy, Far From The Madding Crowd

It has now been four months of lockdown, four months where my interaction with the world has been contained in four walls. Since the start of this, my blood pressure has normalised, my blood sugars are well regulated and the long forgotten stress of work has been wonderful. 

One of the perks of being an author is our ability to exist in different worlds, we exist in the stories we create, like a peeping tom watching as these thoughts turn to words on a page, not the I know what a peeping is. 

But we have to exist in the real world, the one where stopping someone to type out notes onto your phone mid conversation isn’t polite. But right now I’m living in my world, the four walls of my wife, my dog, my book and my children. So while outside of these four walls, time has seemingly been moving at an alarming rate socially, politically and medically. For me, I have loved the time away from it.

The time with my wife, the ability to savour her company and presence each morning knowing I will be able see her again at lunch time and for afternoon tea. 

Now with Sams work schedule and mine coming together when we record and now film The ‘I HATE This Book’ Podcast, I get to spend time with my wife in the name of work. 

I get to spend all day with my dog Bella, who as you will have seen from a few of my videos on Facebook, is usually sat behind me in the writing room keeping me company. No more leaving in the mornings with a feeling of guilt as I say goodbye, instead it’s now long walks, when I’ve completed my schedule for the day of course, and the very occasional lap snoring as I smash out another chapter of my next book. 

That’s the one thing of all I now have the most time for, my writing. I can spend my days bringing words to life on the pages. From spending my day in the clinical high pressure environment of an operating theatre, helping to rectify the damage caused to person. I now spend my time crafting a world, a story, a characters thoughts, feelings and flaws. 

Then I watch the news…..

The world is changing. The political landscape is being reshaped by the burgeoning civil rights issue, one that’s has been happening for centuries which has once again come to the surface. I won’t dwell on it, but I fear they’re overshadowed by the pandemic. It sits waiting to strike in a second wave that’s sure to come. 

Coronavirus isn’t going to just give up, as we saw from the start of the outbreak how just a few people infected can cause an exponential increase. With American celebrating their birthday, there seems to be a weird notion that not congregating in large numbers for some affects what Trump explains what is enshrined in their constitutional law, yet here we are. The UK can receive flights from countries six years ago were blighted by the Ebola pandemic in Central Africa but if you’re an American right now, you cannot fly into Europe. I feel, by a perverse notion of your constitutional rights, you’re turning yourself into a has been back water. Certainly a reflection on the current occupant of the White House

As we are coming out of our homes more so is it, the greater we gather together, the greater likelihood someone will be there who has been in contact and we are back to square one. It seems it will be a race of what’s faster, our ability to develop a vaccine or how quickly people can forget about the realities of a pandemic? The death toll is now at half a million globally, which is coincidentally the number of people estimated to have been on Bournemouth beach at the weekend.

Though by scenes at Bournemouth beach over the weekend with what is happening in the USA, the stupidity of the many seem to have the same level of idiocy and you would think it’s all over. Clinical Epidemiologist Prof Carl Heneghan and colleagues from the University of Oxford looked at over 21 research projects and estimate that anywhere between 5%-80% of carriers can be asymptomatic. 

The crowding of potentially thousands of infected people onto beaches to enjoy a heatwave only reinforces my belief that this isn’t over. How can it be? With protests, Wal-Mart arguments going viral where someone defends their constitutional right to not wear a mask and another claiming it can cause you to ‘run out of oxygen’.  Any one who has ever worked in a operating room knows that wearing a face mask for a long time won’t cause you to suffocate, I should know, I wear one for my day job, all day everyday. But to add to the debate on their efficacy, consider this. The kinetic diameter of methane, the constitutional gas of a fart is so small, that passes through up to two layers of clothing as one farts, causing an entire room to empty. While Covid-19 kinetic diameter is even smaller and yet governments require us to wear face masks in public spaces. The masks will not stop the virus although the clinical evidence is looking likely that a mask may mitigate some spread.

This pandemic has been the undercurrent of the current race to be the leader of the free world, Trumps handling of COVID-19 may be enough to discourage republicans working in healthcare from voting for a second term. The monumental shift on who is the front runner for the job will in fact come not from alleged Russian interference, but from a closed country. China.

The origin of this virus, before it broke free from the wet markets and became one of the powerful influencers politically and socially without so much as an Instagram account.

The same is true here, with a new Labour leader and Boris Johnson facing scrutiny for the way he and his cabinet have handled the the start and now the end of the lockdown. This virus could cause huge shifts in the political landscape bringing with it changes reaching deep into society, it has shown us who the real key workers are in our communities. Who the most vulnerable are, the people who weren’t able to be protected properly when they needed it most and sadly who is the most selfish of us, who is willing to risk lives because they couldn’t just wait a little longer.

The political commentary already rolling out of Westminster is pay freezes, student nurses having to complete another year of training and the dust is yet to settle.

There is a cynic in me that is concerned about the immediate future of what we call ‘normal’. 

The normal we have grown accustomed to will not return, I don’t believe things will ever been the same. The new normal that awaits will be a challenge for most of us, a new world born from the realisation of how quickly our lives can and needed to change. I try to look for the light in everything. Being a veteran and a frontline medical worker it is easy to become jaded with the lack of compromise in the way of the world, so I have taught myself to look for the positives despite my experiences. These same life experiences have had me challenging the values I have learnt to master, it is becoming harder to see the light in the darkness.

So I will stick to the light I can see within my four walls. I will concentrate on my writing, my wife, my children and Bella. 

Everything else…well, ‘What a wonderful world…’ 

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