These are our coronavirus days. We will remember them for the rest of our lives. Days when the calendar and the clock did not seem to matter very much. Days of Zoom and long phone conversations with loved ones. Lazy days with time to think, to read, to remember, to bake bread and plant seeds.
And yet, and yet...it is always there in the background isn't it? The Thing. Regular TV and radio are filled with it. Word after word. "Epidemic...testing...waves of infection...deaths...sobering...social distancing...health systems...PPE..." So many words that they wash over you. And there's The Orange sneering at journalists, petulant, awkwardly reading other people's words, caring only about re-election. Narcissus reborn.
Word after word. Number after number. Image after image. Plastic visors and coffins. Photographs of the living before they became the dead. Smiling. Unaware. As a Yorkshire centenarian pushes his rollator up and down his driveway. Wearing his medals.
Yes. These are our coronavirus days. Like a long holiday but with persistent tension in the air. Like the top E string on a guitar. Over-tightened and taut as though it might snap.
On Wednesday, I walked in Graves Park. Not graves as in a huge burial ground but Graves as in John George Graves the Sheffield philanthropist who gave that splendid 227 acre park to the city.
There's a lot of variety. Ancient woodland, sports pitches, streams, an animal farm, a nursery, a cafe, meandering paths. By a meadow arrayed with cowslips I sat upon a sunny bench to read for half an hour. Nobody else wandered by that secluded spot.
Then I ambled to the fields where over the years generations of highland cattle have grazed with their unwieldy horns and their Beatles fringes. On Wednesday afternoon there were just two adolescents - one black and one ginger. They play-fought or perhaps they were just scratching each other's heads. You wouldn't want to mess around with horns like that. Fortunately, theirs is a very gentle breed.
I made a short diversion to the churchyard of Norton St James. Within nicely painted blue railings there is the grave of England's foremost Regency period sculptor - Sir Francis Chantrey (1781-1841). He created lasting portrait sculptures of both King George III and George IV as well as James Watt and William Pitt the Younger. Our American cousins may be interested to learn that he also created a classical sculpture of George Washington that can still be seen in the Massachusetts State House.