Monthly Archives: March 2022

Great Concert

This is far too short notice. I’m getting tardy about blogging these things!

On Sunday April 3rd we’re performing Verdi’s Requiem at the Guildhall, Plymouth. This is of course one of the greatest and most exciting works in the choral/orchestral repertoire, and it’s great to be doing it with big choir and orchestra, and a highly distinguished quartet of soloists. I have no hesitation recommending it to readers in the area: this wonderful music will be tremendously exciting (not to mention moving) to listen to too.

Tip: if you can get tickets in advance, they’re slightly cheaper than on the door. Ticket vendors, both online and physical, are listed here.

Covid as common cold

In past centuries I’m sure covid would’ve been seen as a bad cold: after all, the common cold encompasses many different lurgies, some of them coronaviruses. My own experience this week has been (so far at least) no more than a middling cold – though of course being vaccinated may have helped there. Today I’ve been much better than the last couple of days and I’m off the lemsips – my usual medication against a lurgy worse than the sniffles.

At the same time, I’m of course aware of all the public information. The stories of people who went through mild to moderate illness, seemed to be recovering, then got hit hard by something nasty (could still happen to me). I learned of things like the cytokine storm, that should probably never have crossed the consciousness of a non-medic. Not to mention “long covid”!

That’s one huge nocebo effect to contend with! It must surely feed in to many peoples’ adverse and longer-term experiences. People who would not merely cope better but recover much quicker if it had been described as a bad cold in the first place.

I succumbed to an element of that at my worst moment: yesterday (Wednesday) morning. I was spooked by feeling materially worse than the previous morning despite having been much better later on Tuesday, and I picked up on one of the big scare stories of the early covid era: blood oxygen. I used my GP’s online facility to ask if I could get a pulse oximeter to monitor myself. They said they could supply me one provided I could get a friend or neighbour to collect it. Today I have it, and it reassures me my blood oxygen is healthy. Not sure how long I should monitor myself: presumably until I hit my criteria for returning to normal life – feel well and test negative.

How useless is covid testing?

This morning I’ve tested covid-positive. The symptoms to date are quite painful coughing (but mercifully much less of it than a really bad cough) and a moderate-level general lurgy. Well, if it were a severe general lurgy I wouldn’t be at the screen to blog about it!

On Sunday morning I had much milder symptoms which I attributed to having overdone things on Saturday. I tested firmly negative, and on that basis I went to choir, where in retrospect I probably spread it.

Earlier on Sunday morning I had a message from Jen who I had spent time with on Thursday evening (a pint or two after another choir). She had tested negative on Thursday, but was letting me know she’d just tested positive and might have been infected or indeed infectious on Thursday. A followup message yesterday told me both Mark and Peter, who had been at the same end of the table in the pub, had tested positive.

This looks like a pattern. You test negative when you feel just slightly iffy. On that basis you go out and spread it. Only later do you test positive and isolate. It’s a story I’ve heard before, only this time it’s kind-of personal.

Perhaps it would be altogether better if the criterion was not a test, but rather the feeling a bit iffy?

River Life

As I write, I can hear otters in the river outside. Or at least an otter, though I think it’s likely to be more than one. I haven’t actually seen them (a neighbour with a better viewing platform has), but I’ve heard them a few times since moving here.

Overall there’s a range of wildlife occasionally in evidence here. Another neighbour I’ve heard quite a few times but not seen is the owls, including a full to-whit to-whoo of (I think) the tawny owl, with the two singers either side of the river. Both were very loud, and I think the female may indeed have been on my roof.

And now that spring is here, some of the colourful river life of the daytime – from dragonflies to kingfishers – may soon be in evidence. Meanwhile a friend recently showed me a stunning photo of newly-hatched tadpoles in his garden pond, while another mentioned just today that she’s looking out for the first ducklings of the season and expecting to see them any day.

I need to go and find some fresh, tender nettles, for the first foraging of the season. I have artichokes in the kitchen, and am keen to repeat last year’s successful experiment combining them in a delicious soup. The wild garlic is also looking ready to be collected.