AN OCTOGENARIAN’S PANDEMIC by Barrie Purnell

AN OCTOGENARIAN’S PANDEMIC

There’s been some sort of epidemic
So say all-knowing academics,	
A kind of dread Chinese infection
Designed to avoid early detection,
Resulting in oxygen deprivation
For which there was no known protection.
The government and the NHS
Said, what to do we can only guess
But until we can make up our minds
You must avoid contact of any kind,
Wash your hands 10 times a day
Put your going out clothes away,
And for restrictions we’ll atone 
By paying you to stay at home.
Said if lockdown we don’t apply
Half a million would surely die,
But something they didn’t say
Was all of us would have to pay,
All the costs of shutting down
To the tune of 300 billion pound.
I have to think they’ve lost their mind
Paying ½ billion to save a life like mine.

On the news the professor reported
We’d all go mad before it was sorted,
But when I had the time to reflect
Saw on me it would have little effect.
I was allowed to form a bubble
With neighbour who said, it was no trouble
To do a supermarket shop for me
Of fresh food, bread, milk and tea,
And I booked an on-line delivery
Which hitherto had been a mystery.
My hour long visits to numerous clinics
Were now phone calls over in minutes,
And no waiting in a doctors surgery
With ill people sitting next to me,
Covering me in their coughs and sneezes
Spreading their as yet unknown diseases,
And oh what joy when they disclosed
All the dentists would be closed.
No visits from that demanding relation
Requiring clean sheets on each occasion.
My expenditure had been decreased,
From hugging I had been released,
No longer was I considered rude
When I indulged my love of solitude.
I don’t spend weekends in hotels
Or holiday in the Seychelles,
I have nobody to look after
I have no fear of the hereafter.
I thought now I will have the time
To watch programmes on Amazon Prime,
Then there was Netflix and Catch-Up TV
Opportunities spread out endlessly.
The prospect of gardening reared its head
Or I could do DIY instead.
Then there were all those books to read
Which would increase my reading speed,
And when these became less exciting
I could always try to do some writing.

But as months ran into longer time
I missed the freedom once was mine,
I missed the human interaction
Leading to increasing dissatisfaction.
I wondered if this imposed ban
Affected this old solitary man,
Someone long past his prime
Already living on borrowed time,
How much harder would it have been
If I had been just seventeen?
And here I had to face the truth,
We chose to sacrifice our youth,
They lost out on jobs and education,
On teenage fun and socialization.
My few remaining years protected
By youth, who even if they were infected,
Would avoid serious complication
And wouldn’t require hospitalisation,
But who’d be paying back for many years
The billions spent to keep our conscience clear.
So we mortgaged millions of young lives
To try and help the old survive.
Was this right, we don’t know yet
Or something the country will regret?
Maybe result would have been the same
If they’d just locked up the old and lame,
And supplied any help they needed
Until search for vaccine had succeeded.
Having lived through rationing and the blitz.
The old could surely have survived this?

Each year 600000 deaths are seen
From causes other than COVID 19,
For every 1 that from COVID died
Cancer and heart disease killed 5.
Now on the news a man of 99
Is said to have died before his time!!
What’s new is that now each day, 
Presented in graphical display,
Death is there for all of us to see
We’re confronted by our own mortality.
Everyday more of the same
Until we look for someone to blame
For the extra deaths of an aged few,
As if death was something new,
When we have been able to ignore
The millions who have died before.
Only when that eulogy is read
Over the special one we’ve loved who’s dead,
Do we realise death is always with us
Even if it’s something we don’t discuss.
As mortals why do we believe
From death we alone could be reprieved?
Heart attack, cancer or suicide, 
Broken heart or homicide,
Immortality is our minds biggest lie
COVID ………just another way to die. 

New year, new prompt!

Not written anything in 2021 yet? Well… shame on you! I know, I know, its all been a bit trying over the last, well, last year really, and Christmas was absolutely no exception (hope you managed a good one somehow or another despite restrictions). But come on now, brace yourselves, lets get this show on the road and get something down on paper. It really doesn’t matter what you write, nobody else needs to see it, just get writing.

Personally, I love a free-write. That is to say, write for a set number of minutes (I usually give myself 20 mins) starting with a particular subject, no punctuation, no lifting the pen (or your fingers if you’re typing), and no stopping to think. Just write the junk that spills from your mind – a bit like word association. It’s amazing what connections you can unexpectedly (and often, unexplainedly (is that a word?? ’tis now…) come up with, and they’re more often than not a good kick-start to a cracking story, poem or piece of creative non-fiction.

With the current lockdown now firmly in place, I thought ‘Lock’ might be a good starting point. Some of the things I’ve come up with are:

What is locked ? Doors; cupboards; trunks; wardrobes; diaries; hearts; personalities; minds; err…. lockdown (of course)….

Why are they locked? How do you open them? Where is the key? If you open them, what’s inside? Do you need another key? Are you locked in, or locked out?

Well, I could go on, but I’m sure you’ll come up with plenty of other ideas. I’d love to see the resulting work, so get writing….. Write Now!!

Prompt for this week

I hope you are all still keeping well, and coping ok with the continuing lockdown. Many of us now are dreaming of returning to some semblance of normality, wondering what the new world will look like post lockdown.

So this week we are giving a nod to that concept and we’re asking you to write something using the prompt:

AFTER

Of course, it doesn’t have to relate to the current situation at all, it could be about after you’ve eaten (or drunk) too much; after a losing (or winning) game; after the party; or with VE day remembrance in mind… after the war. As usual, these are just some suggestions to get you going… let your imagination loose and write in any form you like: poetry; fiction; creative non-fiction; prose poetry….. well, you get the gist… any old way that gets your pen or your fingers on the keyboard moving. Have fun.