We’re asking writers we admire to write for us, and we’ll be releasing them monthly throughout 2021.

2021年1月是托马斯·格雷夫, a writer and Professor from Binghamton University in Upstate New York, 谁现在住在伯明翰.

What has this past month, partly a time of Covid-caused lockdown, been like?

‘Weird’, is how a Birmingham friend extremely fond of that word might have described it. But ‘weird’ is too vague, and doesn’t make room for all the specific moments. Moments like a walk I took one chilly dusk through Birmingham’s Brindleyplace, 在哪里, 在那些寂静的建筑中, it was easy to imagine the opening scene of the zombie-apocalypse film 28天后,, that showed an unnervingly deserted London: ‘Hallo-hallo’, anyone could have shouted that evening, imagining the final-days echo: ‘Is anyone 在那里-在那里-在那里?’

And what about the seagulls that flock through the West Midlands (and all the UK) throughout the year, 劫持毫无戒心的人的午餐? 他们不是正在靠近 非常 few human beings out walking, as the darkness encroached and began to whisper, 这个怎么样,你喜欢吗? 真的,除了 也许 一两个跑者飞奔而过(甚至是他们, 那么瘦, 可能只是鸟或鸟的鬼魂), 在那里 was almost nobody else about… nobody except a lone Brindleyplace security guard, who for a few seconds bent his head over a match’s flare to light a cigarette, before he disappeared behind one of those buildings as if he too had existed in real life only for a moment, then had been drawn back into the realm of dreams 在哪里 security guards, 烟不离手, 永远独自徘徊, half-alive and half lockdown apparitions that melt into dusk in this city of hills and tall buildings and twisting stretching canals. . . 像这样的禁闭之夜, the dusk always descended in time for the ensuing quiet to gather entirely around and wrap itself, 它柔软厚实的手臂, all around your shoulders: the quiet of pandemic nights, of people ga在那里d indoors and sometimes also isolated 在那里, 有时孤独.

These past weeks were the unaccustomed quietness of pubs shuttered, 餐厅了, 火车站和机场空无一人, 和我们所有人, 活着的和醒着的, 想知道这一切意味着什么或可能意味着什么, and – often more insistently – when it was going to end. 同时, 如果我们认识生病的人, 我们担心他们, 为他们祈祷, and did all we could to ensure that they wouldn’t leave us just yet: not leave like that. 不是那么突然,而是插管. Not whilst gasping for breath behind some sterile partition, 被隔离在一个有日光灯照明的病房里. 不是这样的, 没有我们的手可以握,没有我们的脸可以抚摩, 我们也想抱着他们安慰他们. 通过这一切, as we thought of them and seasonal gifts like the sorely missed brighter-than-bright Birmingham Christmas market, 总是有朦胧的黄昏, 然后是我们自己的脚步声. Our feet that, as the season progressed, began to mutter 慢点,好吗?.拜托,看在上帝的份上,你必须慢下来.

And out of the slowing down, if we listened to those feet, arose a kind of blessedness as well. The kind that might have moved us to put up festive lights a little earlier in the season, aware that the increased lights and colours may have helped to cheer our neighbours. The kind that may even have moved us in an era of global stress and anxiety to speak with neighbours a bit longer when we saw them, 而且比平时更关心关心, especially the elderly and the vulnerable… although hopefully always at a two-metre distance.

Our warming planet, meanwhile, began to thank us for lockdown and our decreased travel and traffic. 鸟, 其他生物, and e非常 tree and bush expressed and continue to express their gratitude, from the Jewellery Quarter to Acocks Green and all the way to Kings Heath, as nature raised its eyebrows at our actual ability to step back and take a breath.

Someone told me this week that I should listen carefully, in order to hear the sound of nature politely applauding our efforts. 但如果我们听不见, 他说, this will be only because of the silence in between all other occurring things… the silence that assures that in spite of e非常thing else, our hearts really are still in wonderful working order, 仍然喜欢我们, 而且根本不准备停下来.


Laurie Garrett 即将到来的瘟疫

Michael B.Oldstone, 病毒,瘟疫和历史