In the midst of Coronavirus-19 gloom and despondency, a ray of iridescent light emerged last week in the form of 99-year-old pensioner, Captain Tom Moore. This valiant veteran of World War II from Keighley in West Yorkshire, has proven that one selfless individual can become a force for good in a world of me, myself, I.
When Tom Moore learnt that NHS services were sorely stretched during Covid-19 and that vital life-saving equipment needed to be purchased, he came up with a simple plan to help raise funds. On the eve of his 100th birthday, he decided to walk 100 laps (one a day) of his Bedfordshire garden, zimmer frame in tow, in order to hit a modest target of £1,000. But when his daughter helped to set up a JustGiving fundraising page, the one-man campaign suddenly took off. A random Tweet sent to maverick Breakfast TV show presenter, Piers Morgan, helped raise literally, millions.
Capt. Tom Moore with (L-R) grandson Benji, daughter Hannah Ingram-Moore and granddaughter Georgia.
As of today, the heroic captain has raised £17m, an incredible feat, but more importantly has harnessed the hearts of the nation. In one single gesture for humanity, this generous, warm-hearted pensioner has demonstrated how giving with love and without ulterior motive, pays in spades. Where there is despair, comes hope, where there is grief, comes kindness. We are all in this together regardless of social status or personal circumstances. Some may be living in a fur-lined cage while other gnaw on bare metal bars but we are all captive. So bravo to Captain Tom Moore who has shown how we can all, as ordinary citizens, play a small part in generating love and hope during this time. When interviewed, the level-headed old soldier dismissed hysteria about Covid-19, insisting that all would come right in the end, in the same way that he and countless brave comrades overcame the oppressors in World War II. With all the insidious snake-rhetoric and pontificating of politicians, pseudo-scientists and arrogant academics, at last, dear old Tom comes along to calm the masses and reassure us all that good times will return.
Home from home?
The current scandal engulfing the care home sector in the UK shows no signs of abating. While the NHS is screaming out for more protective equipment for its staff, elderly people residing in nursing homes and their care workers, have become sitting ducks. Increasing numbers of residents are being left to die ignominious deaths alone, while the cause of their demise is being cruelly manipulated to prevent an escalation in statistics for the Covid-19 death rate. It is estimated that so far, more than 1,000 older people could have died in homes from Covid-19. Yet that figure does not appear to be reflected in government figures. Meanwhile, care workers are putting their own lives and those of their wards, at risk by working with inadequate protection and carrying the infection from home to home, as many work across care home groups. The outrage has finally come to light but there is speculation about collusion between local GPs and the government. Why else would so many Covid victims have their deaths recorded as something quite different?
UK a disaster zone
The UK has undeniably handled the health crisis in a muddled manner, so much so that it now has the highest rate of Covid-19 cases in Europe and has recorded 14,000 deaths (the figure would no doubt be far greater were Covid deaths in care homes included). With a wishy-washy policy on social distancing and a general public wilfully breaking the lax rules at every turn, it is unsurprising that the country finds itself in such an unmitigated mess. Meanwhile, without foreign workers it has been forced to fly in impoverished Romanians to pick fruit as the agricultural industry is lacking 80,000 farm workers and this year’s crop is likely to go to waste. How the country will recover from such disastrous handling of the crisis, is anybody’s guess. Perhaps the electorate should nominate Captain Tom Moore for PM?
The psychology of lockdown is a fascinating topic. Those who would normally dine out often or flash a cursory, dead-eye over their weekly shopping basket have suddenly become avid foodies and would-be chefs. The conversion is astonishing and compulsive. Even townies are suddenly adopting kitchen waste management skills, re-using vegetable stalks to make stick men or earplugs (I jest), planting garlic pearls in window boxes and foraging for plants, herbs and dandelions in parks or hedgerows, if not caught by the coppers.
At subliminal level, the public is reverting to caveman mode, unconsciously thinking of survival and how best to cope in a world of uncertainty. Online social media chatter is awash with healthy green smoothies and soups and dishes with anti-viral properties. There is an almost manic fervour for planting vegetables and fruit, especially among those who’ve never picked up a trowel in their lives. As a Worzel Gummidge who spends much of her life in self-isolation writing books and articles, gardening, devising new dishes, and caring for much-loved livestock, this period is no hardship. For others it is, especially those with limited or no outside space. So it is a wonderful revelation that the electorate is finally taking to the earth and appreciating its many splendours. Just to breath in the odour of soil is to make me heady with happiness and I hope it will prove so for others too during their confinement.
The key though is not to lose this impetus when lockdown ends as surely it will one day soon. The joy of bare feet on soil, aromatic and acrid aroma of wild herbs, and sweet fragrance of blossom, are there for all. Let’s keep the caveman habit going when this is all over, if only for sanity’s sake.
Anna Nicholas’s first Majorca based crime novel, The Devil’s Horn, is out now. It’s available at all good bookshops & via amazon.