It has been nothing short of bizarre this week and reminds me a lot of the Phyllis McGinley poem below. We now have the subject matter for a hundred such poems. Phyllis was born on this day in 1905 in Ontario, but was not a Canadian. There is a town called Ontario in Oregon, USA. There’s a trick question in there for a table quiz!
I worked from home all this week, with a break on Tuesday which was St. Patrick’s Day. The Irish national holiday passed free of parades, with pubs and restaurants closed. Tourists stranded in Dublin by the rapid pace of events wandered empty streets like lost souls.
Our heating broke down. We spent the day shuffling a hot air blower and an oil filled radiator from room to room to alleviate the cold.
The plumber did come and spent the day with us on Thursday fixing the system. He was pursued about the house by Louise wielding anti-bacterial sprays and sterile wipes in case he had been repairing a heating system in an infected house.
The three kids are working/studying from home also. Esha sat her first exam of the semester, remotely from her bedroom on Friday. It’s at times like this that you recognise wants from needs; electricity, wi-fi, heating.
Today Jerry and I did the weekly shop. A bizarre experience. Supermarkets filled with socially distanced shoppers. None of the usual friendly chat and greetings. No touching. Everyone super polite, standing back to let others pass by. No rushing at the checkouts.
You know instinctively that all this distant politeness will come to a violent end if the supply lines dry up. The most important thing today for goverments the world over is to continue to provide confidence to citizens that the food, and drink, will continue to arrive on the shelves. A hint of panic and there will be blood in the aisles.
Daniel At Breakfast; by Phyllis McGinley
his paper propped against the electric toaster
(nicely adjusted to his morning use),
Daniel at breakfast studies world disaster
and sips his orange juice.
the words dismay him. headlines shrilly chatter
of famine, storm, death, pestilence, decay.
Daniel is gloomy, reaching for the butter.
he shudders at the way
war stalks the planet still, and men know hunger,
go shelterless, betrayed, may perish soon.
the coffee’s weak again. in sudden anger
Daniel throws down his spoon
and broods a moment on the kitchen faucet
the plumber mended, but has mended ill;
recalls tomorrow means a dental visit,
laments the grocery bill.
then having shifted from his human shoulder
the universal woe, he drains his cup
rebukes the weather (surely turning colder),
crumples his napkin up
and, kissing his wife abruptly at the door,
stamps fiercely off to catch the 8:04