Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)
Above iIllustration reveals the ultrastructural morphology exhibited by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) when viewed with electron microscopically. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention USA
I thought an image of the virus that has had such a massive global impact might provide a suitable starting point for this blog. My understanding that this coronavirus came from bats resulted from studying an online Future Learn course with the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. Having lived 36 years with one zoonotic disease (HIV from primates) the prospect of being in a high risk group for another virus is of concern. To be clear, the risk is not because of my HIV status, but on account of my age. People over the age of 65 seem to have more severe symptoms and the highest death rates. If I make it to September next year, I will become an octogenerian…so you can perhaps understand my worries.
I have attempted to follow the Government guidance on self-isolation, and must express my gratitude to all in the support team of friends and organisations that have offered help in lockdown. From the photo, you can see that I am ready for the next stage of easing of restrictions when we will all be expected to wear face coverings in an increasing number of social settings. This colourful washable fabric mask is one of a pair made by my friend Mary who has been one of many people giving me support.
One of the unexpected advantages of the pandemic is an increased facility in communicating via online platforms like Zoom. All of the North Midlands LGBT Older People’s Group activities had to be suspended…so to keep the group alive and allow folk to stay in touch we are meeting every Monday evening on Zoom.
Being a musician is another advantage in lockdown…in as much as I’m fortunate to have a two manual organ, a Bluthner baby grand piano and a Korg electronic keyboard. As a result of daily practice, I am halfway through the complete organ works of Bach and well ahead in my yearly cycle of Baroque, Classical and Romantic repertoire for the piano. Escaping into the realms of music is a wonderful way out of isolation.
Having a garden…even a tiny backyard like mine…can extend the confines of self-isolation into the boundless world of nature. Under the expert management of Mary, both front and back gardens have been transformed into spaces of natural beauty and a haven for wildlife. In the past few months I have seen more birds and insects in the garden than ever before. Moreover, I have got to observe them so closely that some of the birds have acquired individual names. Belinda and Brendan Blackbird and their fledgling Brian politely share feeders and baths with the Dunnock and Sparrow families. Of course there are always the Magpies, the Jackdaws and a gang of starlings guaranteed to cause mayhem. This bad behaviour is balanced by pairs of blue tits and goldfinches who show the epitome of good manners.
Another form of escape is reading. Apart from delving into scientific literature of microbiology and disease epidemiology, my book list has included both fiction and non-fiction ranging from the Gormenghast Trilogy by Mervyn Peake to my current read….Edward Crankshaw’s account of the life and times of the Austrian Empress Maria Theresa. In between these bookends, I’ve enjoyed exploring the imaginary Secret Commonwealth of Philip Pullman, the dystopian future in The Testaments by Margaret Attwood as well as novels by Philip Roth, Iris Murdoch, Hilary Mantel, Annie Proulx, Ernest Hemingway and many more.
I have just been visited by my best friend Scott. We have spent a couple of hours catching up and setting the world to rights… So instead of more words, I will end this chronicle with a few shots of flowering plants from outside the house.