Days of Isolation,
our coronavirus diary

Privation and exposure had left their mark on the party, and the health and mental condition of several of us were causing me serious anxiety. Blackborrow's feet, which had been frostbitten during the boat journey, were in a bad way, and the two doctors feared that an operation would be necessary. Then the food supply was a vital consideration. We had full rations for the whole party for a period of five weeks....

But so much for Shackleton. Meanwhile, we have considerations of our own to contend with.

Its March 2020, and coronavirus is sweeping across the world. Only 10 days ago we were ticking over quite normally, but in these last days much has changed. Now europe has set in place a significant shutdown to slow down the spread of the virus. Schools are closed, sporting fixtures cancelled, no large gatherings, many national borders shut. In Sweden the government are following scientific advice rather than popular feeling and schools remain open, but still there is a strong smell of lockdown in the air. This is our diary of what it is like to be under virtual house arrest in a large and comfortable house in northern europe in the spring, with endless streaming services and a coop at the end of the road.

Saturday 21 March

Yesterday I went to the supermarket. The Statsminister has issued a decree that all over 70's are classed as vulnerable people and so should stay at home and avoid exposure outside. I went at around 10.30 on a friday morning, so I assumed that it would be quiet.

Not a bit of it. There could not have been any more over 70's there if the Statsminister had issued a decree ordering them all to go to ICA that day and manoeuvre their trollies in front of mine for an hour. That generation are revealing themselves to be every bit as disobedient and rebellious in their prime as they were at Woodstock all those years ago. Part of me is aghast at their foolhardiness, but another part admires them for it.

Dear Diary.

Sorry, I didn't write yesterday. We watched How to train a dragon yesterday.

Bye. Samantha.

Thursday 19 March

Dear Diary.

We had another test today. We had to write a fact test about pine trees. In Swedish.

Me and Daddy had guitar. We played Long, long ago and Meadow Minuet.

Bye. Samantha.

Happy Birthday to Euan

Ellie played a game. “I’m going to pretend to be the teacher,” she said, “and you can be the class.” “Yes,” I replied, “next week I shall be playing that game.”

The level of shutdown is crazy. this is going to hit business very hard and big changes will come on the back of this. April will see some itchiness starting to creep in. It will be bankruptcy month as businesses, sports teams and shops start declaring disaster and that will bring a strangeness of its own.

But all of that lies ahead.

Wednesday 18

One of the tragic casualities of the world situation is the annual walking trip that Adrian and I make each april, which has been postponed. Oddly, this never made the national papers, but it is a cause for regret for us anyway.

So I have a hotel booking in Denmark that offers me 90% refund if I cancel in 30 days, and 50% if I cancel in 14 days. I am cancelling in 20 days, but I claim the full refund anyway because this was caused by Denmark fully closing its borders due to the World Situation. The situation, the email, the reasoning is all just too strange for words.

I have an idea for a Magnus Mills type story. Two buddies go and walk round Bornholm, but during the trip the world situation collapses and they have no choice but to carry on, walking round and round, in perpetuity, an island in the sea. MM could make it into a classic I am sure. The question is, can I?

Dear Diary.

We had a test today. A Swedish test.

We're going to theater later. It's one of my favourite clubs.

Bye. Samantha.

Tuesday 17

A remarkable 24 hours really. Monday night we had Ellie's fiol and Samantha's dance; then home for pizza and a movie. Tuesday morning up on time to breakfast and run to school. As usual I drove carefully along Albertsvägen which was full of youngsters, schoolbags and bikes. I left the girls at school and then went for a long walk through Torsbovallen.

What was so remarkable about that, you might say? Really, it was abnormal in its normality. Everything the same, all well. Nowhere else in Europe is like this, and it looks increasingly unlikely that we shall be like this for much longer. But today, one more day, we enjoyed the mundane.

In France it is now illegal to go out for a walk. In Italy dogs are being secretly hired around the suburbs because walking a dog is the only way a human is allowed to go for a walk.

This is no longer real life. We have left our planet and entered a John Wyndham novel. Watch out for that triffid!

Dear Diary.

We went to school today. We did math and swedish. We also did a bit of coloring and earning about St. Patrick's day. At the start of the day we got to choose between coloring and math. I was the only one who chose math.

We're going to Ellie's dance later.

Bye. Samantha.

Monday 16

Dear Diary.

Today it was a k-dag. That is when you don't go to school.

We went to the park. We wore our new shoes.

We did organizing. I did my bedside cabinet, bookshelf and my unit.

Bye. Samantha.

A few random comments then:

At school Samantha and her friends have been playing coronavirus tag. One person has cv, if they tag you then you have cv too and have to sit in a corner for 30 seconds. Fantastic. Our newspapers all need a few more 9yo's giving their perspective on the news.

Many schools in Europe have closed now. What do I mean by many? Well, this graphic gives you the picture:

Sweden continues to lead in terms of following actual scientific advice and not political trends. Its not a question of who is right or wrong. I hope things work out for all of these countries. But right now I am pleased that life is normal for us.

The best bit about today was going to the playpark in my new shoes. The worst bit was tidying up. I am looking forward to school tomorrow.


Sunday 15 March

Dear Diary.

Today we did Wii dance. We did it to the songs 7 rings, Policemen, Bad guy and I don't care. I won against Ellie all the time apart from when we did 7 rings. We played that song 3 times and she won everytime.

We also went and walked through the forest. That was fun. We had to follow orange signs.

I'm going to sleep in Ellie's room tonight. I've done that about a million times before. Maybe not quite a million. Maybe 10 or 20.

Bye. Samantha.

Nothing for it. Time for a family konsert to rally our spirits!