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Leanne Talbot Nowell watercolour sea

If you feel trapped in lockdown – remember that we are traveling at 1.4 million kilometers per hour through hostile space on a miniscule, wobbling and watery rock. The planet is spinning in a spiral around a massive ball of blasting nuclear fusion. Our sun is also traveling by the way, and making a turn once every 28 Earth days. We don’t know where we’re going but we are going there very fast.

When worrying things happen, I sometimes beam myself up to the Hubble Space Telescope to get another perspective on the issue. Out there in deep space everything looks terrifyingly peaceful. Turn the lens towards lonely Earth, our beloved blue gem, and it’s difficult to see where the suffering is. Zoom in to about 800 km above the surface and you’ll see a lot of soul-satisfying awesomeness. Check out Simon’s images. Even the deserts are patterns. Zoom zoom zoom to micro and you will find a new coronavirus doing what it does. One needs to be incredibly brave to look with scope-eyes at the universal petri dish.

I beamed myself down to our park and had a look through the brambles at the wash-house. Immaculata (she’s fine by the way) said she used to wash their clothes and her son’s cloth nappies down there. It’s a long stone building with a fallen roof, lots of columns and two great vasche…what’s that in English? The stone vasche have sloping sides or wash-boards. She said “it was lovely to be in the open air and wash the clothes in the moving water, birds singing all around in the trees”. All the women in the community would go there to discuss and wash. No need for shrinks.

Simon says – ‘Jeder Zustand, ja jeder Augenblick ist von unendlichem Wert, denn er ist der Repräsentant einer ganzen Ewigkeit’ Goethe in a letter to Eckermann, 1823 (‘Every state, yes every moment is of infinite value, because it is the representative of an entire eternity’).

Unfortunately the numbers in Italy went UP again yesterday. 4204 new infections, and 610 deaths. Actually, the model looks more like a mountain range than a curve. We need to lift up our arms bravely to the sky, unclench our fearful fists and spread our fingers to the wind. Then zoom in to see what we can wash.

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Twenty seven days.

Lecce castle oil painting

If you’ve been under the hammer lockdown for about two weeks now, you are probably feeling pretty kak about the whole idea. It’s the point where the novelty wears off. It has been a bit like going into a tunnel with dark glasses on. But now your eyes are beginning to adapt to the dark, enough to see the gloomy mess of crashed plans. But you still can’t see the light at the end.

Here is an excerpt from my 2018 BIKE RIDE diary…

“The tunnel was unexpected, a frightful 88 meters of velvet darkness and glaring headlights.

Suddenly I was in it, together with the enormous noise of unseen motor vehicles.

My dark glasses rendered me instantly blind, I squealed like a bat out of hell as my feet flipped off the pedals and floundered around. The echoing boom of truck engines roared ever closer, louder and louder until my bones rattled!

A pinpoint of solid light appeared ahead. The bright spot steadily grew and grew, until I shot out into the peaceful green and blue of a sunny spacious heaven. Laughing with relief and promises to never ride into a tunnel like that again”.

To tell you the truth, I did ride into tunnels again. With terrible trepidation and anxiety. I also rode over very beautiful high mountain passes to avoid tunnels. My bike trip, a 4200 kilometer journey in two months, was quite similar to being in lockdown. That sounds strange, but the principles are the same. One is forced to organize your days with brutal determination and you learn to put up with your very own glum personality.

After 27 days in strict lockdown, we have settled into simple routine. Simon has meetings with his colleagues online. We make a miraculous lunch on the terrace, with no shortage of bread and wine. The neighbourhood gardener did not pitch up to clean the weeds yesterday. At 18:00 every evening the speakers blast us with the National Anthem. We wait for the daily press at 18:30 where the coronavirus stats are presented. Our Marino numbers are now at 27 sick and 3 dead. We watch all the news channels, and see all the drama going on around the world. All the shocking strumpf.

Good news is Italy seems to have peaked. But where there are peaks, there are also dark tunnels.

(oil painting owned by Hilde – Lecce Castello)