It looks like Mum’s cancer isn’t one of the ones requiring twelve week isolation, which is good.
I went for a half-hour walk and posted my medical certificate for benefits, which arrived from the doctor today. I’m not sure when I should hear if I still qualify for ESA. I’m going to try to take exercise most days, either walking or jogging. While walking, I listened to an Intimate Judaism podcast on sexual abuse and halakhah (Jewish law) that turned out to be somewhat relevant to my novel, although that was not my original reason for listening.
Afterwards, I spent thirty-five minutes working on things to say at the sederim over Pesach (Passover), editing some essays by Rabbi Lord Sacks down to get the relevant points and writing a mini-devar Torah (Torah thought) about having sederim at the time of coronavirus.
The approach to Pesach is one of the times of the year when Jewish charities send out appeals. It’s horrible to look at where I am this year and see that I have little to give and so many people in need, particularly with the damage coronavirus is inflicting on the economy, particularly for people on low income jobs. I have to think hard about where money would be best spent, which is horrible. I hate not being able to give more.
The above was written before the lockdown announcement. I walked in while that was on the news. I found it quite frightening. I had a whole bunch of thoughts go through my head, perhaps not all rational: should I still go to my blood test tomorrow? Will we get all the Pesach food we still need (particularly romaine lettuce for maror, the bitter herbs for the sederim)? Will we be OK cleaning and kashering our ovens without disassembling the fan? How will I cope going months on end without a haircut? I have very thick frizzy hair, I could be a ball of fuzz by the time the barbers open again. I had some vague worries about exercise even though one period of outdoor exercise a day is still permitted. Some of my worries were more “out there” – worrying if I would get arrested while walking to and from my blood test tomorrow, which isn’t that likely, but autistic fear of change + social anxiety = crazy fears. I do wonder how my parents feel about indefinite separation from my sister.
The announcement completely threw me, even though it’s not unexpected and it took me a while to come back to normal. My stomach cramps have come back, looking more psychosomatic than ever. Autism doesn’t like change and uncertainty, and change and uncertainty is what we will have for the next few months/year. It’s hard to know what to do. In a strange way, Pesach might be a bit easier than in a non-lockdown state. It is a principal of Jewish law that “ones Rachmana patrei” “The Merciful One exempts the coerced from punishment” i.e. if we try to do the right thing and are prevented by external events, it doesn’t matter. Perhaps I will feel less psychological pressure even as we feel greater physical difficulty? On this note, the London Beit Din (rabbinical court) sent out a list of food items that would normally require special Pesach supervision, but which this year they are permitting without supervision. I think milk was the main one that might affect us, although Mum thinks we live in an area with enough Jewish shops that we should get some, even if we have to buy it just one or two pints each day.
I’m still telling myself stupid jokes to keep going. On hearing that weddings and baptisms are to be stopped, but funerals permitted, I said, “That’s good, I was afraid I would be late for my own funeral!” I guess it’s gallows humour. My parents laughed. I keep feeling really hot and worrying that I’m coming down with a fever, then realising that my parents have the central heating up high again.
The thought that occurred to me is that we’re going to end up like E. M. Forster’s The Machine Stops, all living underground in isolation. We will all go separately when we go, as Tom Lehrer might have sung.
I didn’t get time to do much after the lockdown announcement. I polished some of the silverware while watching Star Trek Voyager. It’s another day when I’ve prioritised health, Pesach and helping around the home over writing. I did actually try to do half an hour of writing, but I ran out of concentration after fifteen minutes and decided it was better to get off the computer as close as possible to 11pm than to carry on trying to write.