Jenny Rees Mann LRPS


© 2020 All rights reserved.

2nd May  Cottage Isolation Diary day 53

cases 182,260; official figures of deaths 28,131


Advice to a Minister on TV:  some useful phrases:-

“Admit there are challenges. Cannot sugar-coat. Unprecedented times. Select any or all of the following: you are working night and day, round the clock, fighting tooth and nail, unflinchingly and unblinkingly moving heaven and earth and straining every sinew while you move mountains in a herculean, mammoth effort to get to the light at the end of the tunnel.

Don’t mention care homes.

the government can announce it is ramping up . . . . something.

At pace. Budget of millions. On anything from badges to research. A jingoistic comparison is, at this point, recommended. Although maybe not Boris Johnson’s fantasy, from 16 March, that the UK is now “leading a global campaign to fight back”. Substitute: “Our world-leading scientific experts.”

8. Finally, recite the approved slogan (on the front of the lecterns, if you’ve forgotten) and it’s over to a scientist for the latest curve-flattening data.

Since the UK figures will be among the worst in the world, emphasise that comparisons are meaningless.

“Even in our darkest moments,” as the first secretary, Dominic Raab, recently said, “the crisis has also shone a light on the best among us.”

Happily, the virtual plague set-up does afford some defence against hostile interrogation.

Observe how the health secretary, Matt Hancock, learned smartly to introduce the next questioner, closing down an annoying one.

Even death-obsessed hacks, rehearsing Britain’s fatal delays during Johnson’s “sing Happy Birthday” period, may feel awkward about associating an individual minister with failures, effectively, unforgivable negligence. But deploy accompanying scientists, in case of such attacks, as your bespoke, personal protection equipment. We have followed the science and always made the right decisions at the right time.

Try answering a difficult question with – Raab’s speciality – the response to a different one. How many tests completed? Journalists still bringing up Johnson’s early pledge of 250,000 a day? Also irrelevant. We’re ramping up. Herculean effort. Finest military planners in the world.

On PPE: befuddle them with billions of items, deploy the heroic “working night and day”/“all hours God sends” and agree, fervently, on the need. So let’s hope the heroic frontline isn’t wasting it. “We need,” Hancock warned on 10 April, “everyone to treat PPE like the precious resource that it is.”

There’s no avoiding care homes. So Improvise.”



Stepped out of the cottage door today to find the first Azalea (Hergest Golden Eagle) has suddenly burst into glorious golden bloom.


Sian sent me a long message today - she thought of Dilys as her ‘second mother’ and Jim made his first ever ‘video phone call’. This Covid business is bringing the older relatives on in the tech world. Strange to think those two people are the ones who have been with me for the whole of my life. Please let that continue.

Another peaceful River Cottage day, delivery of food from local deli, then gardening, pottering, cooking, more pottering, photography, facebook, read a book, go to bed.

‘You realise you’re an introvert when a pandemic forces you to stay home and you realise your life hasn’t really changed.’

Too many people still dying, a doctor has broken ranks and blamed the fact that too many older British are obese/diabetic/ hypertensive.


Blue sky still evening. Breathe the air, breathe it again, keep on breathing as if your life depended on it . . . . . and watch the Irish potatoes chittering happily in the greenhouse, a promise for the autumn.