And what did March 2022 bring, I wonder?

This will be brief! COVID…..

I am getting weary of medical matters. After a couple of months feeling less than 100% largely owing to aching joints and muscles, my bloods revealed a puzzling combination of issues.

The good news: last year’s op has not compromised my absorption of vitamin B12 nor rendered me anaemic; my CRP (inflammation marker) is normal; my cholesterol is high but made up of a big proportion of the good stuff.

The bad news: my vitamin D3 levels are abysmal; and I appear to be rheumatoid factor positive…

For someone who spends alot of time in the garden or the allotment, it’s hard to understand where my vitamin D3 has gone. The GP promptly prescribed high strength capsules and we hoped this serious deficiency wasn’t problematic nor would compromise my immune system….

I have no idea from whom or where I contracted covid. Mid March saw the premature arrival of warm sunny spring weather and re-ordering the garden began in earnest. But It isn’t only Julius Ceasar who had cause to ’beware the Ides of March’.

The sudden onset of shivvers and weariness in a flowerbed on 15 March left me with a sinking feeling. ”Mmmm… I think I know what this is”

And indeed it was. The next morning I tested positive, followed by several days of high temperature, a little night time delirium, massive congestion, persistent nausea and coughing; sore throat, loss of voice and fatigue.

I reckoned I had been in the close company of at least 23 family members and friends in the previous five days, when I may already have been positive. Remarkably not one of these contacts has reported becoming ill; a testimony perhaps to the preferred Northern ‘nod’ as a greeting, in contrast to the now dominant Southern habit of hugs and air-kissing.

The weather has been remarkable; sunny day after sunny day. The whole very unpleasant experience has taken ten days of house arrest and social distancing. David – remarkably – remains negative.

Meanwhile the garden is burgeoning and the dilapidated decking has been replaced.

The annual painting of the garden obelisks is overdue, and though this penance usually takes place in Advent it has been translated to Lent, and the task halved. Only enough paint for the two most shabby…Special dispensation!

Finally, a negative lateral flow test – hurray! Now some serious spring cleaning and laundry

We leave for VinItaly, the huge wine fair based in Verona, in less than a fortnight, but seeds need sowing, potatoes planting; and new turf needs laying in Basingstoke and water butts positioned in Alresford.

So much to do; so little time!

This month’s poem has to be Under Milk Wood by Dylan Thomas, whose rendition by Michael Sheen at the National has been made available on NT At Home. It may speak of – and from – a time when the world was very different (composed nearly 70 years ago) but it remains any extraordinarily vivid versified narrative whose musicality is unlike anything else I know.

As for this month’s book – well, while ill, I resorted to a childhood favourite; Rosemary Sutcliffe’s The Eagle of the Ninth, and was reminded how much my knowledge of the Roman world is based on her fiction! Such detail; such research; such vocabulary. Also published in 1954!

Tom Service’s (of Radio 3’s The Listening Service) The Force of Music is the most fabulous 28 minutes of reflections on the music and inspirations of composer John Williams. Do seek it out on BBC Sounds

This month’s person ? Well I’ve not been out much lately – but Hammed Animashaun is breath-taking as Bottom in Nicolas Hytner’s production of Midsummer Night’s Dream performed at The Bridge theatre in 2019 . Thank you again to the NT At Home and to Hammed for helping me through the tedium of covid. His was an astonishingly mesmerising performance of a really tricky part.

The place, the tree, the bird? Well – it has to be my bedroom ! And the view of a newly pollarded crack willow with a cormorant at the top of it. Yes, a cormorant! (I did see a raven shortly before I was ill on the car park next door but I didn’t get a photo of it… Was it an omen, I wonder ?)

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