Jilly: It’s Grim, But It’s Not All Bad

 

Yesterday Michaeline shared the events of her week in rural Hokkaido, which began with a birthday celebration and ended with the coronavirus-related closure of schools, the declaration of a state of emergency, and a strong request that people should stay home.

Here in London the Sword of Damocles is still suspended, but probably not for much longer. So far there are 20 confirmed cases of the Covid-19 virus across the UK. Nineteen of those cases are people who have been abroad recently, but the latest one is a man who is the first person to be infected domestically. The source of his infection is currently unknown. He lives in Surrey, a populous area to the south of London, and attended his local doctors’ surgery before he was diagnosed.

We’re also starting to see precautionary measures taken by employers. Last week the oil multinational Chevron sent 300 staff home from its Canary Wharf offices after one of its employees, who’d spent the weekend ski-ing in Italy, became unwell. Media company OMD, which shares the same building, sent all its staff home after an employee who’d returned from Australia via Singapore reported symptoms. Transport company Crossrail, which shares a building with Chevron and OMD, sent all its employees home. And yesterday law firm Baker McKenzie sent home more than 1,000 staff from its Blackfriars office after a possible virus case was identified. Continue reading

Jilly: Self-Isolation Past and Present

Boundary Stone, Eyam
(via Wikimedia Commons)

Yesterday Michaeline shared a fascinating Reddit post about how a foreign resident in China is dealing with food and cooking during the lockdown imposed by the authorities in an attempt to contain the outbreak of coronavirus/covid-19.

In the UK we only have 9 confirmed cases of the virus, but Sir Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of National Health England, has said people may increasingly be asked to isolate themselves here too. This BBC article explains who should self-isolate and what precautions they should take.

It’s sobering to think that one of the world’s most effective tactics for preventing a global pandemic has been around for centuries and depends on ordinary people showing selflessness and self-discipline.

I first learned about self-isolation more than 40 years ago, on a school visit to a local historic site: Eyam, a picturesque village in the Derbyshire Peak District. Eyam is a scant few miles from stunning Chatsworth House (Pemberley!) and Haddon Hall (Prince Humperdinck’s Castle!) but its place on the tourist trail was earned in much grimmer circumstances.

I blogged about Eyam, Historic Plague Village, five years ago, but given current events it seems fitting to revisit the story. Continue reading

Jilly: Finding Inspiration in Eyam

Derbyshire Well Dressing  (copyright Dennis Thorley via Wikimedia Commons)

Derbyshire Well Dressing
(copyright Dennis Thorley via Wikimedia Commons)

I didn’t write a word this week, but I did top up my creative well with a powerful mixture of present beauty and past heroism.

I spent an exhausting but productive few days in darkest Derbyshire, sorting out family stuff with my brother and mother. In a fit of optimism I took my laptop and all my notebooks, but brought them back with me unopened. I had plenty of time to think about story, though, as I sat in traffic jam after traffic jam, because late June is Well Dressing time in the Peak District, and people were out in their droves to visit and take photographs.

In rural Derbyshire, the tradition of decorating wells, springs and other water sources using designs created from flower petals and plant material dates back to the 1300s. It began as a pagan practice to give thanks for clean water during the period of the Black Death. Now the wells are a beautiful tourist-friendly photo-opportunity, but five hundred years ago, one of them played a critical part in ensuring the survival of the region.

The story starts Continue reading