Home & Shop Companion #0053
letter from a small corner of far away
Dear Lynn, dear Everyone,
For nearly ten years as a young adult I lived on the edge of the city of York, a small city of 100.000 people. Every summer that number increased with floods of tourists coming to see the historic buildings and the quaint narrow streets of Petergate, the Shambles and Whip-ma-whop-ma-gate. Living my life, counting my friends, customers, people I played music with and those who came to listen, along with neighbours and shop keepers, I probably recognised three to five hundred people, so when I went into town I would usually bump into someone to say ‘hello’ to. Even so, if I recognised one person in every two of three hundred, that is still one heck of a lot of people I didn’t recognise. One hundred thousand is a lot of people.
It was no surprise because everyone could see it coming, but the number of deaths from Covid 19 in Britain reached a hundred thousand mark this week. That is a lot of people, a grim statistic. Britain has amongst the highest number of Covid deaths per head of population, after Belgium and Slovenia. The US comes in at number eight. With approximately one in 700 people having died, many of us might not know someone who has died because of the virus, but we all know people who have got it at the moment, some in real danger, some who have had it and recovered, and others who are still debilitated by the infection, sometimes many months after contracting the disease. It is a sad time, and a lonely time as we again, quite rightly, are restricted in our movements. It is a time to keep our heads down, to keep out of the way while the doctors and nurses treat the patients, way too many of them, that they already have.
As a light from the end of the tunnel, we hope, the vaccination programme here is in full swing. Over 8 million vaccines have been given so far. My mum, now living in a care home, got hers a week ago, as did all the care workers at the home.
If the speed of the vaccination rollout has been quick, looking back over the last twelve months the decision making of our Government has been slow at every stage. Dithering rather than deciding and doing has been the order of the day as our politicians have failed to overcome their attachment to political expediency in the face of uncomfortable facts. It makes me wonder how it would have played out if livestock farmers or old-fashioned veterinarians had been in charge.
Outside it has been cold. I started pruning one of the apple trees today, but the cold drove me back in again. The sun this afternoon beckons me out to have another go when this is finished. Last week I picked up the seed potatoes and onion sets which are in the shed, but I will have to watch the weather forecast because although we are not likely to get temperatures much below freezing, it still could happen, and then they will have to come into the pantry. The seeds ordered after Christmas have arrived too, though the supply and choice are somewhat reduced, whether it is due to economic problems tied to the pandemic, Britain’s exit from the European Union or just the weather, I don’t know. With seeds comes hope, and I am starting to look forward to the first activity of spring. Under the hedge the snowdrops are through, so spring is not far away – though a snowdrop is really a brave flower of winter, but welcome nonetheless.
William Castle is a violin maker, farmer & SFJ contributor who lives in Shropshire, England.