The World Holds its Breath

Plum blossom in our back garden

While a precocious spring flourishes outside my window, I feel a strange mixture of emotions writing this. A few weeks ago, it seemed inconceivable that parts of the world could grind to a halt so quickly. Now, the COVID-19 situation is moving so fast that governments and health services can’t keep up with it. It feels like something out of a bad apocalyptic movie.

I won’t go into detail, since it’s all there online already. Suffice it to say that consecutive appeals by the French President and the Prime Minister to act sensibly and avoid other people have not been successful. Cases continue to rise, people either act as if nothing were amiss or go on toilet roll buying binges, and we are now effectively in lockdown throughout France.

Here in Europe we are, naturally, very attached to our hard-won personal liberty. It’s difficult to accept a situation that infringes it. Emmanuel Macron went on TV last night for the second time in four days to inform us that restrictions would be tightened again. He avoided using the words “confinement”, but that is what this amounts to. The Interior Minister used that word later.

As of midday today (17th March), you can only leave your home for vital reasons: to work, if you can’t do it at home; to shop for essential supplies; for medical reasons; for overriding family reasons or to help vulnerable people; or to exercise yourself or pets, but not in a group.

You must fill in a form certifying that you are carrying out one of the above activities and carry it with you. Failure to produce it or supply a valid explanation is subject to a fine of between 38 and 135 euros.

Those of you in France can download the form here, or you can write your own attestation and hand it over if stopped by the police or the army.

This situation will continue for a minimum of 15 days.

Non-essential shops, restaurants, bars, discos and cinemas were already closed or suspended from last Saturday night. This left only food shops and market stalls, petrol stations, bureaux de tabac, banks and pharmacies authorised to open.

Those are the bare facts. But then there is the human side, too: activities such as sporting events, choir singing, walking in groups, concerts, going to the cinema, eating in restaurants – in short, all the things that people like to experience together are suddenly suspended.

In fact, the SF and I decided last week to withdraw from all of our external activities until further notice. For us, self-isolation is in principle not too hard. We live in a rural area and sometimes go for a couple of days without seeing anyone in normal times. But the very fact of having to restrict one’s life compulsorily is tough psychologically. And if it’s tough for us, the isolation and the tedium will be very difficult to bear for people who live alone.

At least we have the internet to keep us in touch with others and with what’s going on, although the quality of information is variable and often inaccurate, and the bickering on social media becomes tiresome.

Instead, we can use the internet to do a bit of virtual travelling or take an online course or stream a live concert. We can also pick up the phone to check on people, particularly those who are alone and need reassurance and the sound of another voice.

For my part, although I can’t go anywhere, I will continue to blog, and, I hope, to provide a few minutes of light relief that way (today’s post excluded!)

What suggestions would you like to share for avoiding cabin fever?

In the meantime, stay safe and well.

Spring flowers

Copyright © Life on La Lune 2020. All rights reserved.

24 comments

  1. Your blog will help keep in touch with France. We were due to fly out of Australia on April 2nd for ten weeks travelling around France including three weeks in the Lot. We have, of course, had to cancel and have no idea when we will be able to return.
    This crisis affects us all in different ways. It brings out the best and sometimes the worst in people – look at the frantic times in the shops. We are retired and lead a quiet life so it means more reading, some Sudoku, a game of Scrabble now and then.
    Bonne chance a tous.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m so sorry your trip has had to be cancelled, but hopefully you can return one day when all this is an unpleasant memory. I can’t go anywhere now, so my posts may have to be new spins on old topics!

      So true that these times bring out the best and the worst. People keep saying that lockdown is a good opportunity to get on with things like reading, writing, etc. I must admit I’m finding it hard to settle to anything just now, but I’m sure I’ll get used to it.

      Bon courage.

      Like

  2. Nessa, I have been AWOL for far too long. I was, in fact, in the process of emerging from my chrysalis as this catastrophe began to take a grip. I just want to reach out and thank you for your kindness whilst I have been in my own strange dark place, to say that my positive spirit has returned and that I am certain that this too shall pass. But governments must do as Manu has done and impose strict measures, because populations sadly will not be trusted – there will always be those that don’t play fair and in this instance, it is clear, those risks cannot be taken. Holed up here I think often of France. Not in the here and now but more the France of the last war. The résistance, the villages working stealthily together, not breaking trusts and the catastrophic consequences for so many if someone did fail to play the team game. This IS a war of sorts. And in wartime, decisive action that ensures everyone is cooperating is vital. Take great care – it’s good to ‘see’ you once more 💫

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh dear friend, I am thrilled to see you alive and kicking. Did you ever read my mails? Moved with your friends removal co to home country and sang your praises all along. Do write!

      Liked by 2 people

      • I have read your mails and now that I am somewhat whole again (how ironic given the pandemic virus that I should be feeling hail and hearty emotionally for the first time in nearly 2 years …) and I will write back to you in the coming days. I am thrilled that you used our movers. We hope to be doing the same in the coming months but of course all plans are somewhat curtailed for now x

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        • They are indeed. For all of us. So sorry to hear that you were unwell all this time. Looking forward to correspond with our private mail addresses. Be well 🙏🏻😘

          Liked by 1 person

    • I can’t TELL you how DELIGHTED I am to see you here again. If that looks shouty, it’s meant to! I have thought of you many times in past months, especially recently when by chance I looked back at my post about taking a detour to Marcolès, entirely thanks to you. It’s good to know that you are emerging from your chrysalis, and I look forward to seeing the many-coloured and resplendent creature that emerges. One day, when all “this” is over, we will sit down and have a great many things to talk about. In the meantime, I totally agree that desperate situations require strict measures, unpalatable though they may be. In the meantime, stay safe and well, and know that many people will be glad that you are back.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Good post. Scaremongering doesn’t help. I am in Switzerland now, toilet paper is sold out, some pasta too but we still are very fortunate to have enough possibilities to get our daily lives organized. I DO feel very sorry for all the countless shopkeepers, restaurateurs, and I’m already very much missing choir and orchestra gatherings. Church services too are off, as is all entertainment. I see a long lasting recession waiting around the corner. Dear David Lebovitz offers free easy recipes with ingredients one has (should have?) at home…. I read a poster of school students who offer their time to shop for and help less fortunate others. There are many GOOD souls out to look out for others. I just bought my practically blind mum a double crossword magazine and shall pop it in the post tomorrow. She is under quarantine in her seniors’ residence. Calling her every day or other has become important for her.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Toilet paper and pasta were the first things to go here. It’s so stupid. You can’t eat toilet paper! And there are alternatives – as our ancestors knew very well. Goodness knows what this is going to do to the economy, although the prospects are not bright. Macron said they would help businesses in various ways, but I’m sure many will go to the wall.

      Your mother must feel very cut off, so I’m sure she appreciates your calls. I have a list of people I intend to phone regularly during this crisis to see if they are okay and if there is anything they need.

      Stay safe.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m afraid you’re right about many businesses going bust. All those lovely places and kind people, who worked so hard and who will perish. It gives me nightmares. Mum is thrilled that I call her daily with my small news. Others in the home complain that they get phone calls all the time 🤨🙄
        You just can’t win them all.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. The San Francisco Bay Area where I live was just put on the same lockdown as you describe in France. I’m enjoying me new Google Arts And Culture App, doing virtual visit all over the world, starting with the Musée D’Orsay. Also will using photos to create some books for my granddaughters who are being home schooled. And taking walks outside in as many different places as I can where I can at least see other people. And we’re all trying to shift in person meetings to virtual ones.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh yes, I discovered Google Arts and Culture a couple of days ago. An excellent way of visiting these places from the comfort of your own armchair. We are all going to have to find new ways of staying in contact. Perhaps we will actually start to use the phone again!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Back in the UtK to care for my 99 year old father in law. Wish I was in France! Wherever you are take care and stay positive

    Liked by 1 person

    • It must be a worry for you to have an elderly parent, but it will be a relief to him that you are there. We are fortunate where we live, in that we can go outside and almost imagine that it wasn’t happening. Stay safe. I will be publishing some uplifting (I hope!) posts over the next few weeks. We could all do with something to take our minds off it.

      Like

  6. Thankyou so much for your thoughtful, considerate words. I am old enough to remember the war, which was worse because people were trying to kill us. It is desperately sad that this crisis comes just after we have destroyed so many co-operative links by means of brex-it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am fortunate enough never to have lived through a war, and I can only partially imagine what you must have gone through then. The President said last night that we are at war. This time it’s an invisible and insidious enemy that doesn’t care a jot about us. Brexit came just at the wrong time, although there was never a right time for it.

      Like

  7. Thankfully nature is blissfully unaware of all this crisis as spring burgeons forth! It provides a welcome distraction from our worry and social isolation. Hope you stay well!

    Liked by 1 person

    • So true. It’s a good thing this didn’t happen in the depths of winter. At least one can get out and enjoy the garden and see nature coming back to life. I spent this afternoon mowing our lawns. The grass has never been as tall and lush at this time as it is this year. I feel sorry for people who don’t have a garden or somewhere outside they can go.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Thank you so much for the link to the attestation, that’s enormously helpful. We too started self isolating at the weekend as we had just returned from New York. We have just emailed all our friends to let them know we are available for a Skype or FaceTime to help us all vent our anxieties and give each other support.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Glad to have been of service. It wasn’t immediately obvious where to look for it. It’s so important to stay in contact with people during times like this, isn’t it? If only to have a mutual moan and realise you are not alone.

      Like

  9. As we are stuck in UK for foreseeable future, the garden will have more attention than usual. We have been told 14 weeks self isolation. That is a very long time. 😱
    Stay safe both of you.
    Thank you for your little bit of France.

    Liked by 1 person

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