In my manuscript, There Was A Time, Oh Pilgrim, When The Stones Were Not So Smooth I finished a chapter about the ‘elderly Dutchmen party with Alison Alexandra’ on Friday 13th. I took a trip and, on 19th March, began what turned out to be nearly a full year of Pandemic writing.The next chapter of the novel begins “In times of Pandemic, one of Alison Alexandra’s greatest worries is being bored.”
I started planning to write about the Pandemic the day after I heard that China was constructing hospitals solely devoted to COVID patients. I knew then the world was going to be in a lot of trouble. I was proved right.
This is how that chapter began.
In times of Pandemic, one of Alison Alexandra’s greatest worries is being bored. And though she doesn’t want to test the theory, she believes she would rather be ill than bored.
“I’d step lightly there,” says R/Jane-the-Ghost.
“I would,” says R/Jane-the-Ghost. “And I know what I’m talking about. Yes – I do.”
Within the week of Wuhan City in China being shut down, and the building of emergency hospitals to house the sick, Alison Alexandra knew this would inevitably become the fate of the world. It might have intruded a bit more quickly than she has anticipated, but not by much.
Alison Alexandra of course thinks about the Chinese curse: “May you live in interesting times”. But she also knows that this is a phrase in English that has no Chinese equivalent. The closest curse in Chinese is “Better to be a dog in peacetime than a human in time of war”.
“I won’t argue with that,” says R/Jane-the-Ghost.
And she doesn’t.
So, it was at the beginning of the Chinese curse that Alison Alexandra sets her plan into motion. It is simple, though dependent on circumstance.
Alison Alexandra arranges to get those with whom she’d like to share the End Times – if End Times they prove to be – to join her at her house and wait out the famine with a feast or two. Or three.
“I don’t think the End Times are supposed to be good times,” says R/Jane-the-Ghost/
“Not to put too fine a point on it,” says Alison Alexandra. “But aren’t you supposed to know?”
“Point taken,” says R/Jane-the-Ghost.