Isolation diary: Dealing with the fallout

Our late flowering cherry tree is starting to bloom (photo taken this morning)

In today’s Observer, Martin Lewis (of is quoted as saying:

When you watch the news, they’re interested in telling you what’s happening. I’m interested in telling you what you should do. So when someone’s desperate, and it’s someone for whom I don’t have an answer, that’s when I get really upset. That’s when I sit at my desk and I have a little cry. I find it really frustrating. I know I’m meant to be the person who can answer questions – but sometimes there isn’t an answer. And someone’s pleading with me to help them.

Lewis is carrying a heavy burden on behalf of those struggling financially during the crisis. He says there are “devastating holes” in the system and that he has cried 15 or 16 times in the last few weeks over them. Exploiting his reputation as the “most trusted person in Britain”, he has already launched some successful challenges to the Government, identifying the unintended consequences and “omissions which are not deliberate” of some of the schemes pushed through to deal with the fallout from coronavirus.

And he has put his money where his mouth is, by donating £1.9 million to a fund he has set up to support charities that are providing poverty relief. The fund enables those front line charities to carry on working through the crisis.

Reading that article reminded me that MPs and caseworkers are also fighting battles on behalf of their constituents, especially for those who are in serious difficulties but can’t access support.

MPs and their staff are themselves working under stressful circumstances, sometimes without access to the paper records and other resources that they need. The landscape has changed dramatically and they are having to familiarise themselves with a whole host of new regulations, and they need to tap into all the local sources of support. Many of them could have echoed that quote from Martin Lewis.

My own MP, Ed Davey, has been updating this page of national and local information on his website on a regular basis, and many MPs are doing something similar.

Let’s spare a moment to remember and value our MPs (of whatever party) and their staff – they form another front line in the battle against the impact of coronavirus, and need our support.

Today’s diary is a departure from my usual style. For the last three weeks I have been concentrating on protecting my husband from coronavirus, while trying to remain as self-sufficient as possible. I have become somewhat introspective and my diary has reflected the minor challenges of living in isolation rather than with the broad sweep of government strategy. I have, of course, been keeping up to date with the news, but I have realised that I am tending to block out anything that disturbs my equilibrium. That is simply a survival technique.

However occasionally reports from the world outside resonate with me. We really need the Martin Lewis’s of this world, as well as the MPs and their staff, who are fighting on behalf of those most affected by the current crisis. Let’s show them our appreciation.




Please note

We have been in full self-isolation since 16th March to protect my husband whose immune system is compromised.

If you are in self-isolation then join the Lib Dems in self-isolation Facebook group.

You can find my previous Isolation diaries here.


* Mary Reid is a contributing editor on Lib Dem Voice. She was a councillor in Kingston upon Thames where she is still very active with the local party.

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • Yes, Ruth, remember his bravery, his insights. The Nigel Barton speech (Keith Barron) about his Dad still reverberates.

    I miss the grand kids but have What’s App. So lucky to have a garden and four bold new pals who follow me round, a pair of blackbirds, a robin and a wren. Gerard Manley Hopkins says it better than I ever could.

    Glory be to God for dappled things —
    For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
    For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
    Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
    Landscape plotted and pieced — fold, fallow, and plough;
    And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim.

    All things counter, original, spare, strange;
    Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
    With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
    He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
    Praise him.

  • With the last few days of sun I’ve been a gardener; under supervision..

    I’ve listened a few times to Maggie Holland singing ‘A Place Called England’..It’s been my ‘leftie’ anthem for a long while especially…

    Come all you at home with freedom whatever the land that gave you birth,
    There’s room for you both root and branch as long as you love the English earth.
    Room for vole and room for orchid, room for all to grow and thrive;
    Just less room for the fat landowner on his a**e in his four-wheel drive.

    For England is not flag or Empire, it is not money, it is not blood.
    It’s limestone gorge and granite fell, it’s Wealden clay and Severn mud,
    It’s blackbird singing from the May tree, lark ascending through the scales,
    Robin watching from your spade and English earth beneath your nails.

  • Sue Sutherland 6th Apr '20 - 4:04pm

    When I was first laid low by M.E. over twenty years ago I realised that my own stillness revealed the business of nature. The bees were rushing around from flower to flower intent on gathering as much nectar as they could while I lay on the garden seat quietly reading a book. I realised that most of the time I had been so busy, like them, that I hadn’t noticed their buzzing could fill the air with somnolence.
    Now we have peace instead of noisy engines and everyone has the opportunity to hear the bees again.

  • I love the way you have all been inspired by the photo!

    However I was hoping to draw attention to the important work being done behind the scenes by MPs and their staff. Let’s support them.

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