St Thomas Blog

*Extracts from Karen William’s submissions to the Exeter ‘Coronavirus Community Diaries’ 2020*

Extracts from Karen William's submissions to the Exeter 'Coronavirus Community Diaries' 2020

Tuesday 9th June 2020

Karen Williams has been kind enough to send a couple of her diary entries from the Facebook page for a Community Diary during this strange time. I hope she will send a few more!

8 April
Here is a little something I wrote at the end of my first week of working from home, 27 March:

Blog of the Week of Change

Sipping my coffee in the warm sunshine, I reflected on how much better I was feeling. My eyes were not strained and dry, I did not feel stiff from sitting for long periods of time and I was comfortably warm: not too hot, and not too cold. My finances may be taking a tumble as my hours at work have steadily decreased from 7.5 to 1.5 but my health is better. My mind can ramble as I flit between Work and work. The latter is completing a book project which will be launched in October; it will happen as a date has been set and I am more than half way through. The bliss of being able to add a paragraph or two when an idea comes to mind is beyond compare. Bored easily, I thrive on switching between tasks, not that awful 'multitasking' but properly concentrating on something before properly concentrating on something different.
Monday was a bit grim as we were sent home, duly laden with laptops. As I have been setting up a new position, I felt uneasy as to whether I would actually have a job. I hadn't taken on any of the new workload to any great extent. However, Tuesday was a jolly day spent grappling with the laptop and its intermittent attempts to connect with the overloaded internet. IT were helpful and I said they deserved much praise. Unsung heroes if ever there were any - all focus being on underpaid or unpaid care workers this week.
Wednesday was beyond woeful as I clasped my mobile to me everywhere I went, just in case some work was needed. I needed therapy. I needed fresh air so gave up after lunch and planted some potatoes. This task has been long overdue because of the relentless rain there has been. It also made me aware of sounds. The sounds of old-fashioned summer days with the chatter and laughter of children outside, radios from open-windowed houses. Looking out of an upstairs window, it could have been an old-fashioned Monday with washing hung out on lines to dry in the warm, breezy air. If ever there was a time for spring cleaning, this was it.
By Thursday morning, I felt less paranoid and decided to spend the first couple of hours either at work or on call for it. After that I would check emails regularly, but not too frequently! Lettuce seeds were planted today and stories emailed off to magazines. My day has some structure as I take and collect Roy in order to minimise his risks - of bugs from buses and stress from non-existent buses. There is a reduced timetable of transport and, as there are no buses before 7am anyway from here, there is no change to our morning routine. Well, not in terms of getting up and driving to the hospital. A massive change for me has been the extra time available to do a yoga practice instead of rushing for the bus...which sometimes connects with the appropriate onward bus and sometimes it doesn't. My own journey to work is fraught with uncertainty. Usually. Now, I just go upstairs when I'm ready. Retirement seems less daunting now.
There was time and energy left over to look outside in the evening. Betelgeuse is on its way to becoming a supernova so worth taking a look before the Hunter heads off for the summer. It is far to the west now. The big red star looked brighter but it could have been due to the clear dark skies for once.
Friday I deemed to be a day for winding down for the weekend so finished off the outstanding Work tasks and get on down to some serious paperwork sorting of my own. Today, Saturday, has more hours as I don't need to go shopping nor do I wish to. The day will be spent alternating between that book project and cleaning the kitchen. I shall have the afternoon off 😊

w/c 8 June 2020

As we come to the end of the 12th week of 'working from home', it is interesting to reflect on the differences between then and now. In my purse I carry the pew leaflet from 12 August 2001 from the final service I attended at my church in Berkshire. It has stayed true to its promise and is still apt. 'Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen' is the phrase that has sustained and is sustaining me still. With the need to make trips to care homes and hospitals sadly ceasing towards the end of last year, we were thinking we would like to get back into regular church attendance. And then Lockdown happened! So, we were very pleased and touched when Rev David knocked on our door to say hello. We feel we are back in the folds of the congregation once more and look forward to meeting in person again.
Working from home has steadily diminished to around an hour a day on average with more on Tuesdays for a weekly meeting I take the minutes for. It is no mean feat to take meetings for a Skype meeting when you can only see a few people at a time. Luckily, I have my own laptop for recording the minutes, leaving the work laptop set up so I can 'see' the meeting and keep an eye on who is speaking and who is still there but sitting silently in an anonymous box below the more vociferous folk.
I have had a story published in a women's magazine and, as a consequence of a conversation related to that, received a request for a personalised children's story. This may lead to other such commissions. Thankfully, pension forecasts look promising for this year and retirement is becoming a feasible option. Given the lack of suitable work and other factors, this may happen sooner rather than later.
Roy's work has changed in the other extreme. Due to staff shortages with people needing to shield at home, the hospital cleaners are working harder than ever to cover for absent colleagues, taking on extra work and all the while wearing face masks. Sometimes we found it hard to clap on a Thursday. I have continued to get up early to take him to and from work as public transport is inadvisable but also is running on a reduced timetable. There are no buses into town before 7am anyway and after work, he would just like to get home reliably and safely!
It is interesting and somewhat unnerving to notice a rapid increase in traffic following the easing up of lockdown. At the beginning it was unnerving to be the only one out and about. Now it is unnerving to be among so much fast-moving traffic. Recently I had noticed an increase in the speed of the occasional other car that was on the road as well as overly complacent cyclists and pedestrians. It is also unnerving to see so many people now out and about all of a sudden. I hope we all continue to stay safe.