Well not exactly. Turns out there is one more story for the collection. It has a title, The Purple Rug, and has written itself in the course of four or five days. Now I am really ready to present the collection of thirteen stories. Oh, and the first one, previously called The Man on the Roof, and set in Ashkelon in the nineteen-seventies, has been cut in half, and has no man, no roof. But it`s still set in Ashkelon in the nineteen seventies.
This evening an alarm began to sound from the tube station which is situated a hundred yards from our flat. It was cold, dark, pouring with rain, but the alarm was so persistent, eventually I put hat and coat on and went to find out what was happening. `Emergency – do not enter` flashed in red at the entrance to the station platform, so I asked a local taxi driver what he thought had happened. Someone on the line, he said.
Somehow this seemed an inevitable conclusion to this kind of day. Countless news features about the risks and dangers of Coronavirus, interspersed with tales of endless suffering on the part of the millions of refugees from the Syrian wars. All that was missing (what has happened to them all?) were the interviews with people who have been flooded out of their homes, in Yorkshire, Shropshire, Wales, elsewhere.
Finishing my collection of short stories, and making a decision to publish it – or get it published – felt like an act of defiance. And one thing made me laugh. A facebook friend pointed out the other day that the powers that be are viewing the fact that old people are most vulnerable in the face of Coronavirus as a bonus. A cull, she said – it should sort the social care issue for a few years. Obviously she was joking. Or so I thought until I read the advice given by someone today to the very same old people who need to be most careful not to catch the virus. Do not self-isolate, was the advice. You may feel rather lonely.