Like a latter day Samuel Pepys, who chronicling the distressing sights during London’s Great Plague in 1665, from now on these daily journals will act as my personal diary of these disquieting times globally in the face of COVID-19’s asperity.
Pepys diary telling of the carnage confronting Londoners during the bubonic plague which, depending on your source, claimed between 70,000 – 100,000 lives. Prose lauded as perhaps the most incisive chronicling from that stark chapter in the history of England’s capital.
Let me point out at this juncture, I’m neither vain glorious or deluded enough to think 350 years hence my diary will be lauded with equal reverence to old Pepysy. However, I’d love to think in the year 2380 my diary will, at the very least, be sitting gathering dust in a £1 bargain bin at Walmart.
Although reluctant to abandon London in 1665, Pepys clearly feared catching the plague. The diarist setting his papers in order, rewriting his will, taking up chewing tobacco which was (wrongly) thought to keep the disease at bay, along with refusing to wear a new periwig fearing it maybe hair cut from heads of people who’d died during the plague.
As I’ve self isolated as a pre-caution against contracting the coronavirus, I’m being little more guarded than Pepys. That being said, I think his paranoia about wearing a new periwig was ill thought out, consequently it won’t stop me donning the splendid new hairpiece purchased last Saturday from the Burke & Hare millinery store in Clackfield.
I’m penning today’s journal outside the 19th century cottage in North Yorkshire where I’ve decided to self isolate for the short term. This in a village two miles from the nearest town, potential gathering of the populace and selfish b******s who unashamedly empty stores toilet roll aisles with the swiftness of piranha removing flesh from a human limb.
Footnote – My decision to self-isolate reached after learning, following last year’s heart attack, I perch precariously within the high risk of serious consequences should I be afflicted by this potentially deadly pathogen.
With sun shining, rural views, along with residency in these splendid 200 year old buildings which bring to mind land workers abodes on TV drama Downton Abbey, this location is a truly idyllic environment in which practice my hermitism.
The only aural accompaniment, apart from the distant playing of an Apple Music playlist inside my cottage, are chirping birds whose canticle adds to the overall serenity of this lockdown experience. The county of my birth is blessed with some truly beautiful landscapes.
Thus far I’ve avoided TV news bulletins; instead my coronavirus updates gleaned from the BBC News website. Probably the most trusted media outlet for any COVID-19 developments.
I’m certainly cautious of taking onboard the less than erudite polemic of Frankie and Edwina Keyboard-Warrior on Twitter. Diatribes from the orifice which at some point will benefit from the mountains of loo roll they’ve accumulated.
Against this backdrop of pestilence, fear and apprehension, much of Samuel Pepys’s life in 1665 went on as usual. He still worked at the Navy Office, continued his adulterous liaisons, celebrated his cousin’s wedding, and pursued many of his interests.
Surprisingly the year brought much opportunity and wealth Pepys’s way and, as the plague subsided, he wrote in his final diary entry for the year, “I have never lived so merrily (besides that I never got so much) as I have done this plague-time”
Ordinarily, I’d accuse Pepys’ diary entry of being ungracious in the face of such suffering for his peers during the plague. However, as I’ve just written around 600 words boasting of my idyllic self-isolation in North Yorkshire such judgement would be hypocrisy on a grand scale.
Keep safe, people!