23 April, in the year of our Lord 2020
Up, and after breakfast to letters. One from the Council for pole Money, for which I am vexed since they took not my green bin last week, which is full; another from Mr. M. Jones, who hath overcome Procrastination and with paint from Messrs. Quayle & Block at the Exchange hath decorated his kitchen and is charged with fresh purpose, the colours being ‘Hessian’, which I think a clever name for a sort of brown, and ‘Sapphire Salute’, the most ridiculous name for a paint I ever did hear but is blue, and dark, and sits well upon the wall. After dinner, I outside to my plasterwork with the paste of dubious provenance, where from my ladder I spied a placard at the Physician’s, curlicued and with the pronouncement: ‘Bespoke In-Carriage Testing: Drive a Coach and Horses through The Plague! Book this Instante & Allay Pestilence Concerns! 1s. 0d. / test (2s. 6d. for three)’, and in fancier fonte, ‘Twenty People Looking At This Site Now’, though none around. Alongside, a person of indeterminate gender hoping to hand out leaflets, unrecognisable all in yellow, with trawlerman’s hat, eyeglasses, heavy-dutie waxed waterproofs, gloves and waders despite the clement day, and fabric wrapped around the nose and mouth so tight it did amaze me they could breathe, together with a town cryer ringing a handbell and bellowing, ‘Test! Test! Te-est!! Test! Test! Te-est!! Hundred tests a week by End Of Mo-o-onth!’
For supper, found on ice what seemed beef mince in Bologna sauce, to cook with pasta string, but nothing labelled and the mince palpable Gourmet cat food.
After, I sat outside, it windless and with birdsong all around as if they strove to lighten the anxietie of the world, the garden with its arm around me. Of late my mind is mightily upon the strangeness of these times, no normal labours nor normal discourse, the corporal world contracted to my house, my journal, letters, books and food; travel curtailed and the days pedestrian in more ways than one. Four weeks and more since I dined with any, when with Mr. M. Jones and Mr. R. Owen, and after supper we drew deep breath and said farewells. Yet I am lucky, and they too, for many dead of the plague and many yet uncounted dead, it plucking carefree from they who look after the sick, and taking both young, who leave behind belovèds as young and children younger, and old, who have seen much in their lives but not that they might end like this. By candle I did read more of my book purchas’d before last year’s end, which by a strange coincidence is of a future devastated by a plague called ‘flu’ (an odd and too short name, I think, which I would not choose for such a thing); but it late, the tale of unnatural prescience for my mood, and this journal for today already overlong. I set both aside, and so to bed.