Day 23

The reed marsh by the mill flooded with the night’s full moon. The earth bank traps the tide as a pool. At the point of turning back toward the sea the water is still. Without a breath of wind on its surface it becomes a mirror to the cobalt blue above, inverts reeds, the grassy bank and the trees to the west. Everything in duplicate; nothing moving.

A pair of marsh harriers patrol in the distance. A kestrel flies down from the wood behind the flint cottages, crosses my path and swoops up gently to stall its flight so it can perch on top of a telegraph post along the beach road. A red kite, its long, loose-elbowed wings at full stretch, pulls away from the bird reserve and heads for the low hills.

Along the coast road, midges and other tiny insects swarm in clouds at head height. One species, (that look like thunder flies), settle on my bare arms, tickle my face, make my hair itch. I move through this chaotic mist tight-lipped.

An RAF jet completes some oppressive circuits of the neighbouring villages. The pilot practises climbing and then diving on full throttle. An employee of the state summoning up the most terrifying noise whilst going about his duty.

In the small grocery store and post-office the staff jest with a familiar customer about the aching desire to just hug each other, those they know, or anyone they fancy. They are getting less choosy, they joke, as the “Lockdown” continues. The physical distancing demanded by the government may soon be getting longer. Social distances may soon be getting shorter.

Strangely, knowing that this illness attacks the lungs, the government’s scientifically-led health advice and regulations still say nothing about selling and smoking cigarettes. I am saddened to see that people still ask for cancer sticks at the pay counter. How does this evil industry continue? The population is being asked to “Save the NHS”, but some of its heaviest users are still allowed to self-harm with the connivence of Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs, piling wholly unnecessary demands on the health service.

My elder son gets home from the night shift. He sleeps; then later in the day plays with his two children; cooks for his family and plans an early night before Friday’s day shift. Another employee of the state. Another doing his duty.

My younger son, working in The People’s Republic of China, is now able to enjoy spring weather and is happily socialising more freely after the strictures of the past three months. There hope blossoms with the cherry trees along the river. He watches what is happening in Europe with concern.

Christopher Perry

9th April 2020