The corvid chorus for COVID-19

© Copyright Chris Downer and licensed for reuse under the Creative Commons Licence.

In the upper boughs of next door’s ash tree, the rooks are calling.

The corvids’ cacophony. They shriek a shrill chorus as COVID-19 advances. It’s a fitting soundtrack to a village about to go into lock-down.

Across the road and up the path, the church stands elevated from the rest of the village, an ancient sentinel which could tell us so much about our local history if only it could talk. Like places of worship all over the country, services here have been cancelled, for the time being at least. No more blood or body of Christ. The wine and wafers have been put away.

This is the church where, in the 17th century, that old wit Dr Thomas Fuller, who is credited as the one who coined the phrase ‘charity begins at home, but it shouldn’t end there’ preached to a congregation so overflowing that people out in the porch cupped their ears to catch his wise words. In the days when it was standing room only. In the days before Strictly Come Dancing, box sets and Facebook.

And coronavirus.

Today, our lovely vicar and her family are social-distancing. Like others all over the village, along with those preparing to go the whole 12-week hog and self-isolating.

And what of those celebrating weddings or mourning at funerals? Who knows.

Our brilliant primary school, with its hardworking new headteacher and staff, is just about coping. But only just. It won’t be long before the doors close.

Meanwhile, volunteers and staff are rallying round to keep the much-loved community shop open. It’s our hub. Plans are being drawn up for deliveries to those stuck at home.

The twice-weekly post office in the village hall was open for business today, but without the promised tasting of hot cross buns. There wasn’t any point. The Hot Cross Bun Morning on Good Friday will be cancelled, along with all the other coffee mornings, barn dances, film nights and events that bring this community together.

Curry night at our usually busy pub is still going ahead tomorrow, although booked-in customers are increasingly taking up a new takeaway option after having second thoughts.

But soft, what light through yonder window breaks? It’s the dear little chip van trundling into the square. Make mine a battered sausage and chips with lashings of curry sauce please. Grab it while you can.

That’s about it.

Love Maddie x

Life in the time of coronavirus

The mist shrouds the summit of Dorset’s highest point

As the realisation dawns that coronavirus is going to have a huge impact on us all, I’ve decided to keep a journal during the lock-down.

I used to write an award-winning blog about an enchanted Dorset village where I’ve lived for nearly twenty years. I called it The World from My Window and I renamed the village Lush Places, after the nature column by William Boot in Evelyn Waugh’s satirical novel, Scoop.

I kept the blog going for twelve years and it was picked up by The People’s Friend, the world’s longest-running weekly magazine for women. Five years ago, I got an email out of the blue from the editor who said she liked my ability to write with humour about the minutiae of daily life, but with a touch of emotional depth, too. 

As a result, I now write the magazine’s Maddie’s World column.

Earlier this year, I decided to close the latch on The World from My Window for the last time. I felt I’d written all there was to be written, especially as I was saving the best bits for the Friend.

But then this terrible virus comes along and, suddenly – just like the rest of the world – Lush Places faces an unprecedented and uncertain future.

So I hope you’ll check in with me via this blog every now and then. We’re all in this together.

That’s about it.

Maddie x