It’s been a while since my last update. Too long and much going on. Visits to Indonesia and the completion of writing my first novel, called The Shadows That Sang. Based in Java, Indonesia, a story of two brothers whose world is thrown into chaos when a volcanic eruption destroys their village.
Which is how the world feels at the moment. While my wife, daughter and I were in Indonesia for a month in February this year, the coronavirus crisis was becoming more of a concern. China was dealing with an unprecedented health crisis and a few countries around the world were recording sporadic cases. As we flew home, it was evident the fear and concern of people, many wearing masks on the flight and in the airports. However, there was still a sense of the world carrying on as normal. And no indication of the rapid spread of the disease and the impact it has had on so many people throughout the world, most notably in Italy, Iran and more recently throughout central Europe.
In a matter of a couple of weeks since arriving home, Italy and Spain are under lockdown, airlines are on the brink of collapse, the UK is requiring everyone to practice social distancing and to avoid non essential travel and contact with other people. There is a palpable feeling of anxiety and fear. The news media is covering the crisis 24/7 – endlessly relaying the latest advice, interviewing the public and experts. It feels a vastly different world to the one we left when we travelled to Indonesia at the beginning of February.
How do we ‘keep calm and carry on’ when there is so much uncertainty and genuine concern? It is one thing to advise people to work from home and practice social distancing, self isolate for 14 days, avoid travel, stay at home. But occupying your time productively is something we can all do. Maintaining a fit and active mind as well as body is extremely important.
I have reached out to many of my contacts and former students, many of whom live in Spain and Italy. I am in a fortunate position to be able to work from home and offer online English lessons. I believe an hour of face to face (online of course) conversation can be both educational and therapeutic. A chance to talk to someone about anything, to take their mind off the situation or to discuss what is happening. An outlet to discuss what is on their mind – and receive some useful English language practice and tuition at the same time.
I hope people will find a way to manage their time in this difficult situation. If we dwell on the fear, the worry, the uncertainty, it will only compound our feelings and affect our mental health detrimentally. We all need to take a break from the information overload we expose ourselves to on social media and via our TVs, radios and newspapers. While we need to be kind to others, to assist those who are vulnerable and at risk, we also need to be kind to ourselves.
Stay safe, keep washing your hands, listen to and follow the government and medical authority’s advice. But look after yourself as much as you look after your loved ones. We all need to be strong together and together we will get through this crisis.
If anyone would like to have online English language lessons, please contact me. Contact details, lesson information, payment and other details are available on this website.