Follow one crying eye on

How (not) to Coronafail

Yesterday, on my evening walk, I treated myself to the latest episode of Elizabeth Day’s wonderful podcast (here if you’ve not heard it already)

I was unsure whether to bother because there was no guest. I like the usual dissection of the guest’s three failures and what they have learned, but Elizabeth announced she would be reading Corona-related messages from her listeners and there would be no additional voice at all.  This just didn’t inspire me – but I didn’t turn off at this point because I was in the middle of one of those new and tricky social-distancing manoeuvres – a junction, several pedestrians approaching in and from multiple directions, wary glances assessing the two metre gaps available before making our moves.

By the time I was safely alone on a straight bit of pavement, I realised I was invested in the podcast – so I carried on listening. By the time I reached the Park gate, I was completely absorbed. There were all sorts of fears and failures described, some bigger than others for sure, but all clearly relevant and important at personal human level.

But then, just inside the Park, and fortunately very well distanced from anyone else, I was back to my old crying-eye self. Not just one eye but both, plus actual deep intakes of breath.  A couple of truly moving stories and situations, clearly relatable to our wise host, just set me off. They didn’t relate to my own life experience, but sometimes that simply does not matter. I don’t need to have lived through the same events or situations to feel the anguish. None of this was over-emotionally stated – just placed there, with supportive comments or advice. How did Elizabeth not dissolve in all this? Masterful!

I found myself completely wrapped up in it all. Maybe it was an escape from the rest of the day? Maybe I am more emotional at the moment without realising it and  these podcast words in the beautiful evening park unlocked that a bit.

I thought I had been finding the restrictions in the Coronavirus lockdown somehow helpful. No choice? Well, that means fewer decisions to make and I am by nature a law-abiding person so I’m comfortable sticking to rules. No escape? Well, that means I can’t just run away on another trip, so there’s no point fretting over what I might want to do next. Scary? Well, for large parts of the day I can avoid listening to or seeing any news, which prevents undue fear taking over.

Maybe, though, there’s more to it than that bubbling underneath somewhere – and so, listening to this was a tonic and a release. And fortunately, distanced by many more than two metres in the middle of Richmond Park, I was in absolutely the right place for it.

When it ended, I confess to needing some soothing as I marched the roads back home. Ah yes, a reassuring Irish voice reading to me from one of my favourite books studied at school, James Joyce’s ’Dubliners’. 

So I returned home refreshed.

And mildly Andrew Scottified again – dammit.


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