Professor Neil Ferguson. | REUTERS

The only piece of news I have heard this week, as it was impossible to miss, was the bizarre
story about Professor Neil Ferguson and his married lover breaking lockdown rules. It had a wonderful touch of black humour about it and did make me laugh out loud. Of course, in
truth it isn’t very funny at all as the good prof has been shown up to be a first-class
hypocrite and above all, a total idiot. He has embarrassed the government and made the
Sage committee look like a Dad’s Army gathering. It’s extraordinary what intelligent people will do when it comes to affairs of the heart. He was willing to risk his career for a quick tryst
with his lover and has paid heavily. A small part of me feels sorry for the man but my
thoughts and sympathy really go to his lover’s husband and children. How do they cope with
all this?

Maybe he should have taken a leaf out of the King of Thailand’ book and just ridden out the
lockdown in a four-star German hotel with a harem of concubines about him with names
such as The beautiful one who will be faithful to the king, She who obeys lovingly and Are
you kidding, I’d love to do that again. Oh purleeeese. On the other hand, it’s good to get
some laughs during lockdown. It certainly beats the relentless drudgery of the day to day
corona news.

The happy ostrich

As a freelance journalist, it’s somewhat ironic that I shun the news but I know for a fact that
it makes for a happier life. When we all started out on our eight-week adventure into the
unknown, like many I twitched at the corners of my screen, seeking out the latest updates
about the crisis engulfing us. I found it hard to sleep, think, work, concentrate, write and
then it happened. That wonderful eureka moment when I simply stopped. I switched off the news, breathed, engulfed myself in beauty, nature, good thoughts, and did what I could to help the living things around me.

I have a wonderful international troupe of kind and loyal readers and it has been sheer joy
to have a little more time to engage with them. Every week I receive hundreds of emails
seeking advice about relocation, the weather, restaurants, hotels, wildlife and often readers
just email me about my books, their families, crises, problems and occasionally tragedies. I
try my best to offer advice and to comfort when awful events befall them. I see them as
extended family so much so that I have their art, postcards, letters and mementos all
around my office upstairs. Readers send me lovely glass and pottery toads and frogs
because I love them. I have a fabulous painting of the Soller tram from an elderly reader and artist in Bristol, a miniature Paddington Bear, a ceramic lizard and handmade cards from
Sister Pam, my reader cum friend now, who lives in a Carmelite nunnery in Yorkshire.

Appreciating Life

Never for an instant do I wake up in the morning without appreciating all that I have. And
those things are not material but emotional jewels. We are pretty forgetful about security
sometimes at home. We find cats, pine martens, hedgehogs, bats, frogs, ducks, snakes and all manner of beastie slipping into the house through windows and open doors while we sleep. In fact, a wander downstairs for some water in the middle of the night can prove a challenging trip, full of surprises. Of course, any would-be thief would be sorely disappointed in our abode. We collect memories, not jewels and objects of value. I love fabulous art but I’m happier visiting a gallery or museum with others than coveting it in my
own home. I am not one for jewelry and we have no need of a safe.

So how liberating it is to have nothing of real worth about us aside from wonderful nature
and wild beasties, the most precious jewels of all. The house is groaning with books and
tribal artifacts, photographs and our son’s keepsakes and that’s about it. Our lack of worth is our salvation.

Safe as houses

One of my good friends lives in Bariloche in Argentina in a beautiful house by the lake. With the recent crisis, many locals have gone hungry and the situation is desperate and
dangerous in the country. The economy is in continuous freefall and Russell fears for his life.
He loves where he lives but now armed gangs are smashing into homes at night, looking for
cash. If they do not get what they want, they torture and kill the homeowner and move on.
Russell is luckily very practical and self-sufficient and has built his own saferoom but still
lives with the fear of uncertainty and he has nowhere else to go. The country is in lockdown,
and the airports closed until the autumn. He has a beautiful cat and dog and wants to
protect them too. Every night, he waits to find out whether he will be next and whether
he’ll fool the robbers or pay with his life.

It makes me realise yet again how fortunate we all are to live in Majorca. Yes, there are robberies and thieves will always be tempted by large and beautiful properties promising
baubles and high worth goodies but in the main the rest of us are safe. How lucky are we to
live in peace without the constant threat of violence, robbery and rage?