Day 1

Having spent much of last week at work preparing to safeguard our vulnerable residents, Coronavirus strikes home. Someone I sat next to at a dinner one evening the previous week was in intensive care with COVID-19. I was at risk. A drive home to avoid public transport; a confirmatory call to 111; a call-back from a clinician and I was self-isolating awaiting a test.

My colleagues were very supportive – did I have enough food, (my weekly online grocery order was waiting for me on my doorstep), was Barney OK? How was I feeling? Did I have enough beans and loo rolls (one clearly required the other). My first evening of isolation was exhausting; on the phone, on line, WhatsApp, Messages, reassuring everyone that I was alright.

Day 2

Woke up feeling aches and pains everywhere, the way your head starts to crawl when you get the nits letter from school… it passed. No cough. Temperature normal. Just like any other day working from home; laptop, emails, teleconferencing. Just lots of handwashing (shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted?). Friends came to walk Barney the beagle; we greet each other through a closed door and I wonder whether I should have doused him in Dettol first…

Day 3

The phone rings. I have a COVID-19 test booked (turns out to be the last day of community testing). It’s a drive thru (will I get fries with that….?). I drive to Amesbury, pull up in a car park and ring a prearranged number. A masked figure emerges from the back door of the Health Centre looking like an extra from Dr Who. Gloves, apron, mask. I wind down my window. She shoves one swab up my nose and another down my throat, hands me a piece of paper and we’re done. 5 to 7 days for results. It’s le weekend. In return for my ignoring the cat and dog most Friday nights, they ignore me now. So much for loyalty.

The weekend passes quietly. I relieve the monotony by giving Barney a weekend run over the downs, leaving early before anyone is about. The next two days are spent sorting through files and papers that I’ve successfully avoided for last five years. It’s an ill wind….

Day 6

Not sure who will crack first – me or the pets. Both are disappointed that my sojourn doesn’t involve extra food, walks or treats. I work ‘remotely’ messaging and speaking to colleagues on the phone but feeling decidedly detached. As I listen to the Prime Minister’s Monday afternoon announcement, I realise that I have unwittingly blazed an isolationist trail that many more will now follow.

A lonely path for many in a nation in which loneliness is endemic. There are trying times ahead. Never has a community spirit been more needed.