There’s no rush

Canterbury Cathedral

Kia ora katoa! Kia kaha!

Today is Tuesday April 21st.  There seems to be huge support for Jacinda Ardern’s decision to extend the severe lockdown in New Zealand for another week. That is really good. I think people are realising that despite the hardships, we are saved so much grief and pain. Our end is in sight, although I hope and trust that we move forwards. Things will not be the same again, as the time before. “Let’s finish what we started”, she said.  Relief all round, I think.

The 1 pm briefing is fronted by Dr Bloomfield and Chris Hipkins, Minister of Education. He speaks about what going to level 3 will mean for primary schools and the Early Childhood sector. I think the gist of it is continue to keep children home, if you can, and work from home, if you can. I’m not quite sure how that works: both parents trying to work from home, and educate and care for their children?  Sounds like a tough deal, but as Jacinda says, they will be learning heaps, anyway.

Today there are 5 new cases of Covid 19, bringing the total to 1345.  One person has died, an older person from St Margaret’s Rest Home in Auckland, which was a known cluster.  No younger people have died here as yet.

This afternoon we had a zoom session with one of my singing groups. Despite the idiosyncrasies of Zoom, we had a good session. It was nice to see everyone again, that is, everyone who dialled in. My attempts to mute myself failed, but I will try again next time.

It strikes me that my values have changed a great deal during this time. At first there was frustration, followed by grudging acceptance, followed by boredom…then I learnt to slow down some more, and take things more quietly. It is so interesting to get a bit further back to basics. Things that one thought “I must get rid of” are now valued again. I’m now glad to have so many books at home.  It gives me a great choice of reading material, seeing as I can’t buy any more at present, or go to the library.

Older people, churches (and what they mean to us), home-cooked meals, and the simple life, are what we are now reduced to, and appreciating. While I don’t think life will ever be as it was before the pandemic, I do think, when things have relaxed a bit, we will look back on this special time. The time in our “bubble” will be a special time, of reflection, and acceptance.  There are things that should be done, of course, but one can’t do them, so therefore there’s not much point worrying about them.

Tonight we had a conversation with overseas family members. In the US, despite deaths (almost 43,000), and almost 800,000 confirmed cases of Covid 19, several state governors are relaxing lockdown and social distancing rules.  More testing has been done in the last few hours, and there are many, many cases confirming positive. Testing is still not freely available in all states. If you cannot measure something correctly, how can you manage it effectively?

It seems certain that there will be more sickness and death, that is likely to overwhelm the health care system, such as it is. With respect to care homes, prisons, and meat processing plants, the figures are dire indeed. While many are suffering enormously, through the collapse to the economy, it doesn’t seem to have hit some folk yet that all lives are in danger, and everyone will know someone who has died.  Already both our sons overseas know another highly- esteemed academic who has died from complications due to Covid 19.

In the UK, while there isn’t quite the crazy element, there is an enormous lack of leadership. The government seems to be blind, to be tone-deaf to the needs of the NHS staff and rest home staff, who still lack PPE.  The expression from World War 1 about “going over the top” seems even more appropriate now, as nursing staff try to manage very difficult situations.  Sadly I’m reminded of WW1, which produced thousands of deaths, before the powers that be recognised what a tragic waste this was. It did produce some wonderful literature, but at what price?

Dr Fauci is back!  He appeared being interviewed by Jack Curry on a video clip, looking more relaxed than he has done for days. He spoke about his enjoyment of baseball, of being captain of a baseball team when he was a young man, and about how it relaxes him. When asked about the coronavirus, he won’t put a timeline on the virus, acknowledging that different states and counties have different rates of infection. He cautioned us all to wash our hands frequently, and not to shake hands.

On a different note, I’m still thinking about Canterbury Cathedral. What a vast and beautiful place!  Tonight I’m going to quote some lines spoken by Thomas Becket from T.S. Eliot’s poetic drama, Murder in the Cathedral. This was performed at my alma mater, Wellington Girls’ College back in the day. I wonder if we will ever travel overseas again. Those trips we did make seem even extra precious experiences now.

Now is my way clear, now is the meaning plain:

Temptation shall not come in this kind again.

The last temptation is the greatest treason:

To do the right deed for the wrong reason.

The natural vigour in the venial sin

Is the way in which our lives begin.

thirty years ago, I searched all the ways

That lead to pleasure, advancement and praise.

Delight in sense, in learning and in thought,

Music and philosophy, curiosity.

The purple bullfinch in the lilac tree.

The tiltyard skill, the strategy of chess,

Love in the garden, singing to the instrument.

Were all things equally desirable.

^Ambition comes when early force is spent

And when we find no longer all things possible.

Ambition comes behind and unobservable.

Sin grows with doing good. When I imposed the King’s law

In England, and waged war with him against Toulouse,

I beat the barons at their own game. I

Could then despise the men who thought me most contemptible.

I still think this is a great play, combining as it does a chorus, verse, and a dramatic plot – the Cathedral was the site of Thomas’s murder. It is very old indeed, dating back to its founding in 597.

That’s just about enough for today. I’ll close with reference to today’s music. I’ve chosen a piece by Elgar, Nimrod from his Enigma Variations. At least Elgar was an English composer.

Nga Mihi

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