Monday 4th April

With no binge and a good sleep I set off on my run and discovered that all the grass paths had been freshly mown. An impressive achievement. It was a beautiful morning and a great run and near its end there was the mower on his machine. I congratulated and thanked him and he told me that as a member of WFC he volunteered to cut the grass to offset the rent for their pitch. What a generous act which I will report on the Wincanton Window.

Late morning had a good Zoom session with JL and DW discussing how each of us had discovered and experienced Buddhist meditation, which we had never done before.

Phoned the health centre to ask if I would be judged in need of extended self-isolationas a result of my triple by-pass. They checked my records and phoned back that apart from age (and sex) if I was careful I did not need to self-isolate.  Agreat relief.  Now I can contact JM and take Dougle for walks.  The garden is looking great.  We get enormous pleasure sitting in it with a book or a drink.

 

Sunday 3rd April

Sunny, cold and windy.  Andrew Marr at 9.  It is increasingly clear that the Government got off to a slow start and has concentrated on saving the NHS at the expense of the care homes where residents and staff have been dying disproportionately and it is from them that a total of 20,000 deaths will be reached.  Boris is now back showing appreciation for the way he was treated and how serious the pandemic is and of the need to look ahead after this lock-down,

Cooked a good lunch of sirloin steak and chips. Elizabeth had seen a cut-price single steak which she could not resist and between the two of us it was great. Our first beef steak in at least a year.  Yes I know about beef, methane and the environment.
The weather did not encourage going out so we rather TV binged.

 

Saturday 2nd May

A cold and beautiful day.  Caught up with my run as Thursday started on a Spanish netflix binge, MONEY HEIST with an incredibly original plot centred on the Spanish mint and involving a cast of amazing characters of ambivalent behaviour and attitudes – good in the bad, weakness in the good and endless complexities and sexual relationships – grabbed hold of me and wasted hours and today Elizabeth joined me for two hours.

Our garden again so beautiful.  This really is a weird disconcerting time.

On returning from my run I was accosted by a woman with a trolly and all her worldly possessions packed on it.  She spoke politiely and wanted to know where she could catch a bus to Shepton Mallet. I expressed sympathy but ignorance, and suggested our bus station. Back home I discussed with Elizabeth what we night do.  Weirdly she (the woman) embodied the problem I had just been thinking about on my run, when does one act to avoid others suffering while living in a world surrounded by so much?  Here was an immediate case and I felt I should do something.  We drove to the bus station, found there were no buses to Shepton, but spoke to a bus driver who arrived from Yeovil who confirmed there were no buses to Shepton but despite her not being  a needed worker, agreed to take her to Yeovil.  We then found her sitting in a doorway drinking a hot coffee from the Co-op.  I told her the bus to Yeovil was coming and gave her £40 (which by chance I had on me in cash) to get by with saying that if she needed help there was more to be found in Yeovil than here.  We did not wish to do more and could not see anything more we could do. Giving her a lift with covid being not on. What would others have done?

Friday 1st May

Had an awful vivid dream about being back teaching only to be misunderstood and falsely accused of alcoholism – never one of my many real weaknesses.  So far I have been sleeping particularly well.  Elizabeth has been having far more dreams.  We never tell each other the contents – except very rarely.  She says that would make them worse.  Of course their contents could and can often be hurtful for a partner when other relationships enter the dream world – I mean sex of course.  We downplay dreams now, no longer seeing them as a gateway into the supernatural as much of Africa still does.  All the same they can be so vivid.

Got together with Jane Langton and Dave Wrathall to try out a session on Zoom.  It worked surprisingly well after a confused start.

In the afternoon we did our weeky shop and for the first time with a scarf around my face and gloves I entered LIDL which I always enjoy.  We cannot continue with this total lockdown for ever.  If we are sensible, keep social distancing, wash hands frequently that should be OK – though the awareness, if not an emotional fear – remains.  A programme empahising what can be expected if you go down with it hard sounds really bad, for if one survives a strong dose recovery could be only partial and very drawn out.

 

Thursday 30th April

Bit of a cold on-off rain and sun day.   Spent the morning sorting old images after talking to Judith about the death of her sister Ann.  Yes Covid got her in the end at 80.  Glamarous as a young woman as her photos showed, she had difficult relationships and no children.  A skilled designer of silver , she became an enthusiastic collector of first edition fine children’s books and the original illustrations in them – really intriguing and beautiful works.  Last saw her a year ago and completed a portrait of her which I was looking for.

Off to Yeovil .  Our longest drive since lock-down to have  a denture repaired. Beautiful rich green countryside.
After supper Elizabeth joined me to watch Yuval Noah Harari speak to a packed out Westminster Hall on his then new book Homo Deus.  Apparently without notes and completely without hesitation he mesmerised us for over an hour – Elizabeth was amazed and impressed.  He was explaining the dangerous situation we are in as humanity approaches the loss of power and employment that the rapid growth of AI is bringing.  Ideas and insights pour out of him, always carefully explained and backed up with examples.  No PowerPoint used.  He really is quite exceptional as a thinker who pulls together the arts, humanities, physical and social sciences and the study of religion and politics – he is basically an historian, and an exceptional speaker and communicator.  Go to UTUBE and find out for yourself.

Wednesday 29th April

Got my run in just before the heavens opened for another cold, wet day.  Completed article on Thea Dupays for Bruton Art Soc. Bulletin and website.  Thea and Dorrie the editor both happy..

Tues 28th April

Cold, windy and quite a bit of rain as I prepared for the afternoon Zoom session of The Buddha Way.  This took place after lunch and got off to a slow start as contributors got on line in dribs and drabs and kept pressing the wrong buttons.  What was nice was that five ANVIL members including our new rector Alison Way took part.  I spoke for 20 minutes followed by questions and answers.  These showed no sign of having read the suggested paper of mine on the Buddhist world view.  Alison asked the best question. How do you rate levels of suffering.  Subsequently comments I have had have been pleasantly positive.  It went on with a second session and I made an audio recording.  We shall see if I get any follow-up emails from the U3A group.

Monday 27th April

Colder and cloudy with rain forecast. Bruton Art Soc committee practice Zoom meeting went very well. Followed by inviting SP, FR, and GC to join Zoom for my session on Buddhism tomorrow.

TV Watched ch 6 of DEVS on I player to hear again the most clear and convincing exposition of why free will is an illusion and everything has a cause.  Very Buddhist. The three certainties, death, change and cause and effect. But the “illusion”? of free will.

Sunday 27th April

Another beautiful balmy day with the garden bursting.  See the lilac tree.

Andrew Marr for the pick of the political week.  Announcement that more than 20,000 have died in English and N Ireland hospitals taking an estimated real total including home and care home deaths to “over 40.000.”
Very impressive new Labour front-bencher Rachel Reeves set out what has gone wrong in a carefully “non-partisan” way and Dominic Raab exhibited his impressive grasp of his very tough overall brief while Boris prepares to return tomorrow.
Cooked roast breast of lamb ribs with roast potatoes, greens and marrow eaten sitting in the sun with glasses of Bordeaux.  Beautiful.  Inevitably the preparation and enjoyment of food rates high for both of us and we really enjoy cooking for each other in about equal measures.  We take care not to overeat and I watch my weight like a hawk. (12 stone)
Spent the afternoon trying out video recording in preparation for Tuesday when I am giving my talk on Zoom and we went for another beautiful walk on the Stourhead Estate, spoke on Skype to Paul and Jo in Oxford and received movies and a lovely phone call of the grandchildren performing, reading and enjoying their London penthouse garden in the sun.  those that have will  those w

How long can they keep on with a lock-down which preserves the old and sickly at the cost of the jobs and future of the young and less susceptible who will be left with a mountain of debt? Will it be as usual that  those who have capital and property will end op even better off than those who are younger and do not.  Also we elderly cannot be locked down with crude rules which we now understand when using intelligence and common sense we should be allowed to act with considerably more freedom.

 

 

Saturday 25th April

Sent the following email to ANVIL members and friends: If you have not received a copy feel free to click below to take part if you have registered with ZOOM.

Dear ANVIL Associate and other friends

Regular ANVIL member Greg Atkins who is an emeritus professor of virology is on our programme to speak about “The Danger Posed by Emerging Virus infections ” which we planned before Covid -19 broke upon us.  We now would like him to speak on Wednesday 10th June at 3 p.m. on what will need to be a Zoom session.  Greg also runs a U3A group in Martock and has been running it using ZOOM since the lock-down.

He has now kindly invited me to speak and introduce Buddhism to that group and you are all invited to sign up for Zoom which is free if you have not done so already and log on to the session next Tuesday 28th April at 3 p.m.  This should then work as a good trial run for future ANVIL sessions which we could have on ZOOM.  Below is Greg’s invitation.

Gregory Atkins is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: U3A Buddhism
Time: Apr 28, 2020 03:00 PM London

Join Zoom Meeting
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/7083841537?pwd=U1A5WG1kWkprVHJUbUJ0VGs3YndCUT09

Meeting ID: 708 384 1537
Password: 049357

Topic: U3A continued

Time: Apr 28, 2020 04:00 PM London

 

Join Zoom Meeting

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/7083841537?pwd=U1A5WG1kWkprVHJUbUJ0VGs3YndCUT09

 

Meeting ID: 708 384 1537

Password: 049357

You will notice there are two sessions, one at 3pm, one at 4pm.  This is because ZOOM runs free for 45minutes.  Longer sessions are quite expensive,  so Greg has a break with a second session starting at 4 pm.

I do hope you will give it a try.  All that should be needed is a single click on the long meeting code above.  Zoom then comes up on your screen and you follow a few hopefully simple instructions (I have found they are simple so far.)  Do not click earlier than one minute before the scheduled start please.

If Buddhism is new to you you might like to visit www.johnbaxter.org and on World Views read The Buddha Way.  Its not long.  Always happy to chat on the phone. 01963 34537 or mo 07403616145.

Best wishes,

John

Also had a good catch-up call with RH