I was ten when I first ventured abroad, back in the sixties. We drove to Vienna in our Triumph Herald. Such trips were rare in those days. Motorists from England would flash headlights in recognition. For my father, it was a significant return; he had left Austria some 27 years previously on the last Kinder Transport to leave Vienna, returning only briefly at the end of the war, a translator with the War Crimes Group. At 10 I was oblivious of all that. I drank in my first taste of Europe; I can still recall every detail over 50 years on.

One of the highlights was a visit to the Prater, home to Vienna’s world renowned Riesenrad. In 1897 it was one of the first Ferris wheels in the world; still the highlight of the funfair that surrounds it. In those days before theme parks, the scale of the Prater was breathtaking; seaside and touring fairs paled into insignificance. I became addicted to one type of ride in particular: Ghost Trains, eagerly seeking them out, oblivious of other rides and attractions. I lost count; as the evening wore on, I would return to my favourites a second and third time, to the growing annoyance of the adults in our party who, because of my age, would have to accompany me.

I was reminded of that night when discussing Coronavirus with a friend; a journey in the dark, lurching from side to side as our route takes us in unexpected directions. Our usual points of reference – work, home, schools, friends, family, shopping, holidays - are no longer available. One week we are ‘requested’ to avoid pubs and restaurants; the next we are in lockdown, liable to arrest if we leave our homes without good reason; weddings, funerals, christening are banned; we can only wave to our elderly parents through their window.

Frightening shapes loom out of the dark; self-isolation, shielding, unemployment, furlough, mortgage and rent arrears, empty shelves. Businesses are closing.

But what remains most vivid in my Ghost Train memory is that overwhelming feeling of relief at its end. In the tunnels, the real world was suspended; one inhabited an artificial reality made up of a series of terrifying moments. But when you eventually burst through that final door, you would be overwhelmed by the fairground lights; the cart would slow and real life would return.

Our Monarch’s words on Sunday night shone brightly in comparison to so many political pronouncements. Her closing words captured that feeling of relief. “We should take comfort that while we may have more still to endure, better days will return; we will be with our friends again; we will be with our families again; we will meet again.”

However scary and terrifying, this artificial reality will end. Better days will return.