Monday, March 9th
Oh no!! Indian Wells has been called off, because of a case (one case!) of coronavirus in southern California. No news on Miami yet, but a lot of the European players are already heading home. I don’t know what’s going to happen with the tennis season now. I can’t see Rome going ahead: the whole of Italy’s going into lockdown. Nor Monte Carlo with it being so close to Italy, and, with the situation in France worsening, the French Open must be in doubt too. It’s everywhere. Israel’s now said that people will have to go into quarantine for a fortnight on arriving there, and the Republic of Ireland’s cancelled its St Patrick’s Day parades … although the one here’s going ahead.
Tuesday, March 10th
This morning, I wrote a blog post called “Love Letter to Italy”. I am so sad to see what’s happening in a country that means so much to me.
Our Europa League match against LASK in Linz is going to be played behind closed doors. LASK are going mad, but the Austrian government’s insisted. Matches in France, Spain and Germany will also have to be played behind closed doors. I’ve read that the virus doesn’t actually live long outdoors, but who knows? I don’t know how the European matches are going to be played at all, because some countries are banning flights now. Valencia’s match against Atalanta was played, but maybe Atalanta were already there. Lazio fans are panicking that the season might be cancelled and they’ll miss out on the title they’ve waited so long for. Could the same thing happen here, with Liverpool?
Nadine Dorries has tested positive for it now. I hope it’s not spread all round Parliament!
Donald Trump says it’ll go away. I wish it would …
Wednesday, March 11th
Everything’s just so weird. It’s mid-March. It should be all lambs and daffodils and Indian Wells and the business end of the football season, but it’s like we’re in some kind of parallel universe. A lot of countries are closing schools. The Fed Cup finals are off. Cricket tours are off. Arsenal are in quarantine because they played Olympiakos, and someone there’s got it, so Arsenal’s match against City’s off. A lot of people who’ve tested positive in Italy have hardly got any symptoms. Angela Merkel says 70% of people in Germany could get it. I just don’t know what to think.
The WHO’s declared it a pandemic. I’m not sure that the actual use of the word “pandemic” makes any difference – it’s just a word – but anyway.
Thursday, March 12th
Everything’s just falling apart. Over 1,000 people have now died in Italy – where everything’s now been closed other than food shops and pharmacies. The US has banned all flights from Schengen countries. The tennis season’s off till May! Miami and all the April events are off. Challengers in play at the moment have stopped mid-tournament. No Monte Carlo, no Rome, no Barcelona 😦 . Euro 2020’s in doubt. The French and Spanish Cup finals are off. It’s getting really bad in Spain. Very worried. And the NBA season’s been suspended.
We won 5-0 at LASK. So, so weird seeing a match played with no fans in the stadium. Liverpool’s match against Atletico Madrid went ahead as normal last night, but City’s match against Real Madrid’s off because Real’s players and staff are in quarantine after one of their basketball team tested positive.
My sister was due to go to Dublin with two friends this weekend, but they’ve cancelled it – not that things are bad in Dublin, but they’re nervous about flights being cancelled. Schools and cultural facilities are being closed in the Republic. And my book club meeting on Saturday’s been called off, because some of our members are over 70 and they’re nervous. Mum and Dad and their friends are cancelling their card games, for the same reason.
In the middle of it all, I’ve received an e-mail from my holiday company about my July holiday to Iceland, all upbeat and cheerful. Will I be able to go? At the moment, I’m not even sure I’ll get my weekend in Grasmere in April.
Will someone please wake me up from this nightmare?
Friday, March 13th
Friday 13th all bloody right. The football season (the League, anyway, not non-league football)’s been suspended until the end of March! No tennis. No football – Mikel Arteta’s tested positive for the virus, although thankfully he seems to be OK. Very sorry for Liverpool, only two points away from the title – and that’s a Manchester United fan speaking! The Cheltenham Festival’s gone ahead, but the London Marathon’s off, rugby union’s off (but not rugby league, yet), more cricket tours are off, the US Masters is off, local and mayoral elections have been postponed, and some universities have closed. The Queen, Prince Charles and Camilla have postponed their engagements. A lot of countries are closing borders. It would normally give me great pleasure to see the “European Union” shown to be nothing of the sort – every country is, quite rightly, doing what’s best for itself – but not under these circumstances.
And the panic-buying! It’s a virus, not submarine warfare. We’re not going to be holed up in our homes with no food. But some of the shelves in Tesco were pretty bare tonight. I’m trying not to panic – and, besides, I don’t know where people are storing all this stuff, unless they have giant freezers! – but I must confess to buying a fair bit extra. When you see empty shelves, it’s hard not to start panic-buying: you don’t want to be the person left with nothing. And there was not a toilet roll to be had. Luckily, I don’t need any more at the moment, but some people will! For heaven’s sake. We got through two world wars without people panicking about toilet roll … er, although most people probably used newspaper then. This is not a nice topic to be thinking about, but suddenly everyone‘s obsessed with toilet roll.
Saturday, March 14th
I had a bit of a meltdown this morning. It was because I’d put on weight for no reason, but it was just everything. I feel like the world’s falling apart. I’m so glad Mum and Dad got back safely from their break in Spain earlier this week, because Spain’s now banned incoming flights. It was all so sudden. There were flights in mid-air: they had to turn back. And there are holidaymakers out there who’ll have to be rescued. Spain’s now in complete lockdown. You can’t even go out to exercise. Belgium’s closed cafes and restaurants. The Manchester Marathon’s off. I just can’t keep up with it all.
People are trying to cheer each other up – there are jokey things on Facebook about typing in the @ symbol and the third name to come up’ll be your quarantine partner. We’re hearing a lot about “quarantining”, and “self-isolating”.
Went to Dunham Massey this morning. Lovely, lovely daffodils. Lovely, lovely spring – nature’s carrying on. The daffodils have even come early. I saw my cousin there, and she gave me a hug, without thinking. You’re not really supposed to hug people now! It’s elbow bumps or the namaste! Dunham was pretty busy. I think it’s more confined spaces that people are nervous about. I’ve had e-mails from Vue cinemas, Costa Coffee and several hotels, assuring me that they’re safe to visit. They must be losing a lot of business.
I then tried to get some toilet roll, seeing as Tesco had none yesterday. None at M&S. None at Quality Save. But, hooray, I got some at Budget Savers! Some shops are rationing how much you can buy now, but you’re lucky to find any at all. Is this seriously happening?
Sunday, March 15th
I went to Windermere today, and stopped at Sizergh Castle on the way back – the daffodils are out there, already. So early this year. The weather wasn’t brilliant, but I couldn’t keep waiting. Who knows what’s going to happen? And just being there made me feel better. It always does. It was fairly busy. Not heaving, but then it would never be heaving on a damp-ish day in March. Oh, I am so glad I’ve been. This has been such a strange week, and I’m afraid there’s much worse to come. The Republic of Ireland’s now closed all pubs and bars. All over Europe, schools, shops and indeed borders are being closed. I just cannot believe this is happening. As a history-obsessed kid, I often thought there might be another world war, but, instead, the world’s falling apart because of a virus.
I look forward so much to this time of year. My daffodil days out to Chirk Castle and Biddulph Grange. My weekend in Grasmere, and seeing the daffodils at Coniston, Windermere and Sizergh whilst I’m there. Rafa winning clay court tournaments 🙂 . The climax of the football season. Thoughts turning to my summer holiday. And now … I just feel like we’re in a nightmare. But it’s horribly real.