Reaching out


Does anything else matter? It is hard to write about everyday life when only one thing seems to be important. There is no other news except fighting and the world crisis. And yet Shackleton’s ship, The Endurance, has been found. Not seen since it sank over 100 years ago it is four miles under the sea. Remarkably Shackleton’s 27-man crew all survived, and now in our time of crisis, a new multinational team continued to explore in iceberg covered sea to bring us news of their discoveries. In normal times it would be a main item on TV, but it almost passed without us noticing. Even COVID has paled into insignificance.

The pandemic did not seem pale to me this week as I went out to a social gathering for the first time in two years. I kept telling myself that my fourth jab I had about three weeks ago would be protecting me.  I had a mask on.

I was launching my new book in our big hotel. I chose their conservatory with an open roof. Surely, we would be safe. There was coffee with cakes, but I did not eat any I was too worried to take my mask off. Others were not so reluctant. We all spread out and I told people about my book and colleagues read extracts.

Being socially isolated had taken its toll. My guests seemed as remote as if they too were under the sea. They were like ghosts, ephemeral and not real, they could have been the researchers in Antarctica. I had forgotten how to talk to real people.

Agatha Christie said that she could write a book in three months. I took two years; I have been writing about the 700 letters I found in the loft during our clear-out that we all did in lockdown. They were letters that I had written to my father about 40 years ago. This was Maggie Thatcher’s era when women were realising that they could hold jobs in high positions, but the rest of the world did not seem to know that.

Our robins have no such worries. The male and the female look the same. There will be some physical differences (don’t ask) but the female has always been equal in that she does all the construction work for their nest. She has finished building in my box outside the kitchen window. The male feeds her whilst she lays her eggs. He is like a dart going in with the food. And when he comes out, he drops to the path and scurries along under the laurel bush to escape without a predator seeing him.

(Taken from my column in the Shropshire Star)

Robins are rarely seen together except in the breeding season!


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