In March 1722 Daniel Defoe’s A Journal of the Plague Year was published. It is an account of one man’s experiences of the year 1665, in which the bubonic plague struck the city of London in what become known as the Great Plague of London. The book is told somewhat chronologically, though without sections or chapter headings, and with frequent digressions and repetitions. Defoe was only five years old in 1665 when the Great Plague took place, and the book itself was published under the initials H. F. and is probably based on the journals of Defoe’s uncle, Henry Foe, who, like ‘H. F.’, was a saddler who lived in the Whitechapel district of East London.
In the book, Defoe goes to great pains to achieve an effect of authenticity, identifying specific neighbourhoods, streets, and even houses in which events took place. Additionally, it provides tables of casualty figures and discusses the credibility of various accounts and anecdotes received by the narrator.
While I certainly would not make any claims for these posts to be of the scale of Defoe’s marvellous work it was certainly the inspiration of my idea to start blogging again in these unprecedented times.
It’s worth emphasising that I’m fortunate to live in an extremely leafy, green and blue part of London. I’m also lucky to be able to share these scary, uncertain days with Clare and our cat Bella. Clare is ‘working from home’ in our second bedroom, now ‘her office’ and these days I don’t bother with that paid work malarkey any more. I’m acutely aware that so many others do not enjoy these luxuries and already quite grim lives have been made infinitely worse by our current predicament and, moreover, that previously undervalued people are literally laying down their lives to see us through this.
I don’t subscribe to the theory that we’re all in this together and I absolutely think 10 years of Tory induced austerity has made this challenge so much harder to overcome. What is more their incompetent muddling, daily duplicitous statements and prevarication is making an awful situation so much more worse for most of us.
Notwithstanding those starting points I began to feel it was important to record my feelings and experiences from the few things we are permitted to do right now. And unfortunately I thought I’d inflict them all on you as well.
I miss rambling around London at my leisure, drinking in pubs, going to gigs & the theatre, watching the mighty Chelsea FC and leading walks – but above all I miss close contact with my friends, new and old. (Zoom just doesn’t do it for me!)
I hope to see you all on the other side – on a walk or in a pub or better still in a pub after a walk.