Am I scared? As far as I can judge at this time, wearied by an afternoon of intense grappling with Dante’s Paradiso – far less vivid in human terms that the other two books but saturated in theological theory – I don’t know. Some of my acquaintances seems to be devouring news avidly over the course of each day and implementing any detailed precautions that anyone sounding authoritative might recommend. Maybe they are right to do so. But the constant diet of news and opinion seems to drive personal disquiet. Like so many events, the news and opinion machines now have a gigantic life of their own. Very long lead-ins to football matches (when there were such things), often days ahead, just 90 mins of actual play, followed by long and wordy inquests lasting over days.
I listen to the Today programme. My companion is then Radio 3, which has adequate if compact bulletins, and I tend to look at BBC News online at some point later in the day. The remainder of the time I get on with this and that, above all research and writing. The number of emails, which I thought would decrease after the Leonardo year, has steadily climbed, as have phone calls and occasional video calls. With social distancing, the social media (which I generally dislike) have a role in fostering a kind of social nearness.
Should I be scared? Probably. I am in an ‘at risk’ group because of my age, if not my general fitness. In 1989 I had bacterial meningitis and was totally paralysed with searing pain. That was truly awful. But the pain recedes into the past and seems like it happened to someone else.
The death of someone who was a very close friend alters things. Numbers are one thing. Names are another. She was middle-aged (seemed younger) and exuded a life force. She is one of those that we cannot believe has died. But she did so after only 6 hours in hospital. Terrible.
Anyway, I will check the online BBC news.