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My Coronavirus Diary


Jane Kelly has been keeping an occasional coronavirus diary which we will be bringing to you at regular intervals. 

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

HOSPITAL death toll up by 563 to 2,352 – 31 per cent up on yesterday.

The original plan was a portrait group this afternoon, and the first of a series of ‘2020 Climate Change Seminars’ tonight in the church hall, under such headings as ‘Climate Change and the Bible’ involving Friends of the Earth. Those plans are in the bin. Perhaps we could hold an online Zoom meeting instead, called ‘Where is Greta Thunberg?’

Also junked, a message from the vicar that he wishes to discuss his intention to publish 54 of his ‘best sermons’. I’m too busy to worry about missing such joys, fully occupied with the internet. Everyone is the same: ‘Do you use Drop Box? Oh, you should’, ‘Have you tried Google Hang Out yet?’ Elderly women who previously only ever used pen and ink ask me, ‘How can you manage without WhatsApp?’

I spent hours on Saturday trying to upload images on to Instagram. All my painter friends once boastfully incompetent online said this is easy to do, but I already had an old account, at an ancient email address with an old password. The sort of situation which consigns days to oblivion. I hadn’t had so much trouble since the night before, when I tried to join a street session on Zoom, the video-conferencing app which has replaced Skype. Everyone seems to be on it; its virtues being more local faces on screen uttering more platitudes about the current situation, and it’s fiddlier. 

To get hold of the old password and close down the previous account I had to get the help of my computer man, now fully employed from his home, working remotely inside people’s systems in their homes.  

‘I know people who’ve set up two Facebook accounts without realising it,’ he said, aghast. That was the old days when older women were daft and didn’t need to bother with social media.

He couldn’t sort out my problem in under an hour as the ‘password reset’ wasn’t working properly because, he said, so many people were on the system. Having fixed that I still didn’t know how to send an image. YouTube videos were as clear as mud, so he set up an Instagram account of his own to help me. The process of sending is of course simple, but only when you have a grandson to tell you how to do it. 

I will pay his fee with my new online bank account, I hope. I always enjoyed going into the bank until it became lethal, but the way things are going I’m most likely to send him a cheque; once he’d gone the photos once again refused to send and the Instagram icon wouldn’t open.

I took a break from this plethora online to visit the scarcity in the shops, stopping off for petrol. Like many women I’m uneasy in garages and was slightly jolted to see some of the pumps not working. Jolted again to find the shop closed with a barricade by the door, and a message to use the ‘night window’.

I was told to swipe my points card. It took a bit of time and frustration from the man on the other side of the window to find the groove on the right. The amount I could swipe had not been increased as it has in some shops, so that took two goes. 

‘We learn something every day these days, don’t we?’ I suggested and he looked rather pleased at the idea.

Got home to the now familiar rituals: put on clean gloves to unpack the shopping, wash hands, iron the newspaper, stare at the empty loo roll holder with trepidation. 

I took some organic milk to a neighbour aged seventy, who is staying in spending her time trying to set up a new iPad, make an online shopping list without losing the order at the last moment  as she presses ‘Pay’, fathom out Zoom for her next book group and face an online veterinary consultation. 

Her cat Ted has a lump on his leg. She’d been trying to photograph his wound but he wasn’t allowing it. She was thinking about carrying him to the iPad to be photographed. Being highly technical, I suggested that taking the iPad to the cat would be more likely to avoid him disappearing through his cat flap. She then found the vet uses ‘another thingy like Zoom’ which she couldn’t set up without buying a new mobile.

Online shopping has increased from 7 to 20 per cent in the last three weeks. Zoom is now in almost every living room, used by families, friends, streets, clubs and societies. Globally, 2,000 institutions including financial services companies, government agencies, universities, and healthcare practices are Zooming, including Boris Johnson, who recently tweeted a picture of himself chairing a Cabinet meeting using it. He has employees, flunkeys and a mistress to help him; a great many women, myself included, do not. 

‘I’ve spent all day trying these things on the computer,’ my friend said as I put the milk down and retreated. ‘Do you think we’ll ever manage to do it?’  

It’s going to take some time, but wayward Chinese eating habits have inadvertently destroyed the UOWV (Useless Old Woman Virus) which afflicts many middle-class women over the age of forty. My question is, will there ever be a chance in future not to do it?

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Jane Kelly
Jane Kelly
Jane Kelly was a journalist with the Daily Mail for fifteen years. She now writes for the Spectator and the Salisbury Review.

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