Ditch those negative thoughts and think how lucky we are

Philip Evans: My Isolation Diary –Day 23 (Thursday, April 9 2020)

IF the melancholic mood in which I woke up in this morning is anything to go by, I’m in for a most sombre day.

Like millions of others, I suspect, I had a restless night following yesterday’s news that nearly 1,000 people had died from coronavirus in the previous 24-hour period and there is little hope that lockdown will be lifted any time soon.

I was particularly stressed over vivid accounts of what it is like to be placed on a ventilator, and as one of those high-risk individuals – in my 70s with existing health issues – I wondered what little chance I had of surviving such an ordeal should I be so unlucky to contract the disease.

I’ve had all sorts of invasive tests in recent times and the one that I struggled with most was the insertion of a camera down my throat so my mind started working overtime in the wee hours.

Along with most people, I’ve experienced difficult times both in business and in family life. One thing I know is that things always look worse at four o’clock in the morning. At that time of day, there’s nothing you can do about them.

I’ve always had a glass half-full attitude to any challenge that comes my way and I am very rarely down in the dumps. This morning it was different.

I usually take my permitted exercise period between 6am and 7am six days a week but this morning I just could not summon the effort to crawl out of bed when the sun was burning through the misty dawn. It’s on these walks – from my home in Anning Road to the Cobb and back – during which provides the stimulation for this daily blog.

When I decided to do it, I was determined it would be as positive as possible and I hope I’ve managed to achieve that without watering down the daily flow of worrying news too much.

But today I started off my walk much later than usual, around 10am, with very few positive thoughts in my mind. Until I hit the top of the parade and it struck me like a bolt.

It was a glorious morning, the warmest so far since lockdown, with the sea like a sheet of glass. With a vista like that before you, who could fail but to think we have much to be grateful for? By the time I reached The Alcove I had given myself of good dressing down and dispensed with all negative thoughts.

As I picked up a more brisk pace rather than a slovenly shuffle, I started to think about my life – well you do, don’t you, at times like this? – and in particular one constant factor that had brought me great joy and an awful lot of fun – football.

From the time I captained the primary school team that won the West Dorset Schools shield, forming our own mini-league on the playing fields which was reported in the national press, to being selected for the first X1 at the Woodroffe School; playing my first game for Lyme at 14; then covering my first football matches for the Saturday Football Express, Exeter’s pink-un, and playing on Sundays for the Exeter press X1; to the three seasons I played for Axminster Town, after launching the Axminster News; my return to Lyme as Reserve team manager and then first team full-back in the early glory years; then moving to London and managing a sports publishing company, watching Premier football all over the country and meeting all the big stars of that time; and finally returning home to take on the chairmanship of Lyme FC for ten exhilarating years before being elected president, a role which fills me with great pride.

The years of great comradeship came flooding back, the many brilliant players I have met and the exciting times Lyme’s young footballers have provided in the last three decades.

Although I have many other interests and commitments, football has really been my life and I didn’t realise how much I am missing Saturday afternoons with coronavirus bringing the season to an abrupt end.

Like many of my generation, I am thoroughly disillusioned with professional football, especially the Premier League, the absurd level of money paid to the top professionals, the arrogance of over-compensated managers and the ridiculously inadequate amounts of funding that flow down to grass roots football.

I join the many who hope that there can be a recalibration of football, from the top down, to return the game to the days when football was a true a sport, not dominated by the demands of millionaire owners and Sky TV. It won’t happen of course, but we can dream.

Whilst a number of today’s most talented payers have accepted that football is not the most important thing in life and have been wonderfully generous to the NHS, some of our top clubs have not covered themselves in glory in the way they have treated their staff, the people who keep the game running, behind the glory, and I’m pleased to see that all Premier players have got together to launch an initiative to support NHS charities. They will raise millions.

As I write this blog the news that another 881 coronavirus victims have lost their life and that lockdown is likely to stay in place for some time to come. This contagion is far from beaten. It is good news, however, that PM Boris Johnson, continues to improve in intensive care but will spend a fourth night in hospital.

We now have to hold our breath that Lyme and other West Country resorts are not besieged by visitors over the Easter weekend.  There are a few already in Lyme; I heard this morning of a family asking someone in Broad Street where they could get a breakfast!

Police are warning they will arrest people who ignore the instruction not to travel with roadblocks going up on the main routes west.

LymeOnline has made a video which shows how quiet the area is and appealing to those who love Lyme and are desperate to visit again to stay at home. It’s on Facebook and is attracting hundreds of hits.

You can see it here…

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