Corona Diary, Day 8

Monday, 23 March

A three-page academic job to start with, which has me thumbing through my older dictionaries for academic titles. Not very lucrative – it takes all morning and the bill just about makes four digits but it feels good to do something as it’s very quiet just now. Distinctly therapeutic to send an invoice.

I was slow getting started, a bit better than yesterday but still rather late. I’ve come into a phase where I’m staying up until the small hours and then waking late in the morning, which I don’t like as I don’t get much done at night while I’m highly productive in the early morning.

I go out and post my translation in my new-found mailbox. Still very few people around and there is an aquarium fish feeling about how we glide past one another without looking at one another (almost as if it would increase the risk of infection if we acknowledged one another’s presence). Unlike aquarium fish, we are very careful not to touch fins but people hug to the side of the footpath to increase the distance.

I make my way through the back streets to Heidenstams torg, about a kilometre away, to see whether there is a paper recycling facility (there isn’t). I’m going to have to reduce my ambitions on the recycling front as it’s a bit too complicated just now to cart things away regularly and bags of greasy cartons are not going to improve the place.

Back home, my elder daughter comes to restock my groceries. I’ve now worked out a menu for the next week and reckon on cooking from raw materials every day, saving my tins and packets for an emergency (there’s about a ten-day wait just now until you can book a home food delivery so I need a bridge just in case).

I read about the low number of ventilators available in Sweden compared with a few years ago and the paucity of intensive care beds in normal times let alone during an epidemic. The lack of ventilators is pretty horrific –I wonder if that’s a bi-effect of the privatisation of health care. At least, they still make ventilators in Sweden so they don’t have to start from scratch like in the UK.

Sweden is attracting attention internationally for not quarantining the whole population, for being too laid back with its herd immunity approach. There are anyway very good reasons for trying hard to avoid being infected or to stave off infection until the health service is more on top of things.

The difficult part will be what comes next. Even if Sweden adopts a harder approach, it will hardly be possible to maintain lockdown for a very long period. There will presumably be a period when the number of new cases goes down because of the lockdown and restrictions are relaxed but where the epidemic is not over.

It wasn’t a great day for my projects today but I did manage to collect the magazines I subscribe to which have been scattered around the flat and put them in chronological order, the TLS, London Review of Books, the Economist and my French journal. And work my way through a number of articles in the London Review on Clydeside in World War One and Tariq’s piece on Sorge. Also a review of the late Harold Bloom’s book on the American “Canon” taking up among other things the influence of Emerson, whose attitude to knowledge interests me.

Tomorrow should be better as I have no commercial work to do but I do need to cycle down to the post box to collect Anglia’s post, especially the form I need to sign to get them to redirect the post temporarily to my flat.

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