In the world, blithe and brilliant Sicilian twins are playing a Coldplay song on their violins. They are so funny and happy and talented and comical that I think their video should be sent to every household as a cheering up exercise.
Somewhere else in the world, the musicians of the Rotterdam Philharmonic are playing Ode to Joy from their front rooms. (And back rooms, and side rooms.) There is a particularly funny addendum to this. All the musicians are alone in their homes, except for two violinists, who are playing together. A very sharp Twitter wag says, ‘I’d like to think that the violinists’ relationship was previously a secret.’ This makes me laugh quite a lot.
People are throwing a great deal of beauty and love out into the virtual world, and the virtual world is the one that we human beings all live in now. The real world feels both alarmingly real and surreally unreal, but the massive open market square that is the internet is rocking and rolling. Of course there are the usual shouty people and the cross people and the We Are All Going To Die people. But there are an amazing amount of disparate humans digging deep for kindness and connection and loveliness, and that touches my heart.
I did a video cast last night with two brilliant women, one in New Zealand and one in Wales. An equally international crew came to cheer us on and cheer us up. My ability to talk nonsense is enhanced by being on video, but the audience is so kind that I don’t mind. My mind leaps about like a young deer, and by the time I get to the end of a set of winding sentences I forget what I was trying to say in the first place. I have a new and profound respect for professional broadcasters. This stuff is hard.
I manage to say a couple of things that feel good and true, and I go away afterwards and think: this is something I’d like to get better at. It’s a lovely and slightly unexpected opportunity, and self-isolation is going to give me the chance to learn to stick to the point and not say ‘actually’ all the time.
Before the videocast, one of the more imaginative of my WhatsApp groups threw a virtual cocktail party. We all dressed up and sent each other ridiculous pictures of ourselves with a drink in our hands. It sounds like frivolity on a Nero-ish scale, fiddling while Rome burns, but it felt rather sweet and hopeful. The teenagers won the dressing up stakes by a country mile. I remember them all when they were babies, and now they are tall and sophisticated and smiling bravely into a world whose future they cannot guess. I find something intensely moving in that.
Today, my great event was the arrival of the hay. The spring grass is not coming through and the horses are getting hungry and there was a slight hay emergency. I had miscalculated how much we would need and had to send out an SOS to our local farmers, a husband and wife team who are currently knee-deep in lambing. To my intense gratitude, they delivered two gorgeous new bales right to the field.
I’m not sure I ever saw three horses so happy. For about ten minutes, I’m not sure I ever felt so happy. Perhaps the secret of this time is to find one happy thing every day, no matter how tiny or insignificant it is, and hold on to it for all you are worth. That was mine, and I’m holding on.