Geneva, Tuesday 17 March 2020
The city is unbelievably quiet. I notice continual birdsong for the first time. The occasional car or scooter moves around. A dog barks. Only one plane has passed high overhead.
Quarantine from the Italian quaranta giorni, (meaning “forty days”) represents the period that a ship carrying the plague had to wait in harbour before anybody could disembark. Such a ship had to fly the international maritime signal flag for “L”. When it was disease free, it could then fly the flag for “Q”: a simple yellow square. Even on day 2 I look forward to the end of our quarantine. Wouldn’t it be great to see yellow flags flying all over?
This is the first day of “working from home” for my partner. First thing this morning we cancelled our holiday to Australia and New Zealand. Departure was next week. Airlines, B&Bs, hotels and car hire have all given us full refund or voucher. I now look at my diary and realise that for the first time in my life, I have nothing planned. I mean nothing. No work. No travel. No meetings. No dinners with friends. No other flights. A day in July is marked “Wimbledon”! Pretty doubtful I would say. (Can’t find a disappointed-cum-tennis emoji.) No golf competitions either, except…….
We’re committed to a daily putting competition at lunch time. Twenty balls from 2.2 metres. Todays results: Her:17/20 (85%); Him 16/20 (80%)
The landline rings. A UK number. Oh No! What’s happened? “Hello Mr Robin” says a voice with a heavy accent from the Asian subcontinent, “My name is Ryan. I’m calling from Microsoft. It’s about your internet connection.”
“Hello, Ryan from Microsoft,” I reply “How are you today?”
“I am fine, thank you Mr. Robin. Now about…”
“So Ryan, are you having to work from home today?” I can’t help myself. I giggle.
“Ah yes, I’m working from home.” he replies. A smile in his voice.
“So, if you’re working at home, can you use your mac?” We’re both laughing now.
“You’re onto it, Mr. Robin.”
“Yup!” I say
“Arsehole!” He says.