Tuesday, 24 March 2020


In these turbulent weeks, it is getting more and more important to cultivate a solitary home life. This does not come easy for me. Granted, that I am usually working at home anyway, but staying put would prove intolerable, were it not for the thrice a day visits to café, restaurant and falafel haunt. All of these will have to go, I am afraid, since the number of infected by Corona is approaching the tens of thousand in Stockholm. Gradually, I am adapting to a new life style, with preparing meals at home – that is, putting deep freeze dishes into my newly bought microwave oven and capsules of ground into my new Nespresso machine – and planning for three hiking outings a day to alleviate the plight.

This morning, I am sitting, as now is the norm, at my kitchen table at 7 am, enjoying my cup of Nespresso, when it dawns on me that this new life may not be so bad after all. It certainly helps that the view presenting itself in front of me, with Hammarby Lake spreading out its serene calm, and the ferry boats cruising slowly to and fro the quays, invites me to contemplate life and inner self.

Permit me to let you in on a secret of mine. I am a habitual foreboder. Foreboding rarely fails me, when a major calamity appears on the horizon, and often even before its first symptoms arise. It usually takes the form of diffuse worries that entice me to envisage all kinds of scenario for bad things to evolve. For instance, this happened to me in 2006, in good time to become worried about the Great Recession, and again in 2017 (Long day's journey into night). Ever since that last foreboding I have been worrying about all kinds of crisis scenario to evolve, especially since I could not visualise the precise fuse to get the carnage going.

Thus, when I first heard about the plague erupting in China, my mind was well prepared to take in the calamitous news. Ever since end January, this has led me into a substantive depression, rendering me completely unable to do serious work, just leaning back on my couch and playing out in my mind one terrible scenario after another. How could I possible invent such scenarios in advance, you may well ask. This is easy. I have a reasonably good grasp of history, from my study days, and can sample freely from this immense well of facts and stories. While pondering the present situation, the Great Plague came to mind and I envisaged billions dying, civilisation coming to an abrupt standstill and convalescing only after a decade or two of painful reconstruction.

Now, the plague is upon us. To my great relief, it will not be as severe by far. There will be only millions of dead, maybe tens of million globally, and this will affect mainly the elderly, thus rendering recovery a rash affair. So, paradoxically, I feel rather relieved and rejuvenated; this decease will be dealt with by humanity with relative ease. It just forces me to forego visits to eateries, a small price to pay for trying to evade the otherwise inevitable.

Having thus gained a healthy perspective on the present situation, let's get back to my kitchen table, watching the ferries dancing their merry dance, and leaning back on my chair in all serenity. Why not take a glance at this small video of mine, which allows you to share my morning view?

As an aside, in these days of self-induced isolation, it would be a great consolation to hear from you, Dear Readers. I would be immensely pleased to get your comments on this blog, where you can tell us how you are coping with the situation. Google is a bit finicky, so you can send my any possible comments by e-mail. I will make haste to put them in here, either in your name, or as Anonymous, whatever you would prefer. Thank you kindly in advance for taking the trouble.


Peter Kleen said...

För egen del tillämpar jag nu samma devis som guvernören för delstaten New York, M. Cuomo:

”Socially distanced, spiritually connected”


Elisa said...

Thank you for this blog article. Very well written and makes me a little bit emotional. Thinking of our lost spring and summer days my children can’t conquer as they should, makes me sad. Also our family reunion which now has to be postponed. But life goes on. And maybe after the crisis the world has changed a little bit (in a positive way) and many new (scientific) knowledges are found, for example home office is as efficient as sitting in a bureau. Or not all lessons which are thaught in school are as necessary as the government thinks.

Svante said...

Dear Emil, thanks for keeping us posted with your nice stories and wonderful pictures! Here in France we are under very strict restrictions, not allowed to go out, with a few exceptions. But I think that is OK and even necessary. Like you, I am interested in history. My grandfather died 100 years ago in the Spanish flu and the church records some years are filled with people who died in various epidemics. I hope that we can get through this one with not too much loss of lives and not too harsh economic consequences. Take care, Svante

Johan Bager said...

Hallo Emil,

Det var mycket tänkvärt att läsa din blog. Just nu är ingenting sig likt men livet återgår väl till sin normala lunk så småningom, Frågan som alla ställer sig är när?
Vi får försöka göra det bästa av situationen och alltid kommer vi att lära oss något av denna tid!
Lev väl och sköt om dig/


Robert Ems said...

Hallo Emil,
habe gerade deinen Blog gelesen.
Ich kann dir folgendes Interview zum nachhören empfehlen. Es war vorgestern im österreichischem Radio. Dort sagen 2 bekannte Zukunftsforscher wie es weiter geht.
Ist sicher sehr hilfreich, um die Gedanken beim „Nichtstun“ zu ordnen, oder einfach zum Zeitvertreib.

Liebe Grüsse Robert 

Anonymous said...

Hallo Emil,
,,,,,give me land lots of land...! Aber das ist ja gerade das Problem, dass wir zu viele sind, und dieses Virus bringt da auch nicht so viel. Da war´s schon ausgiebiger mit der Pest (digerdöden), mit einer Verminderung der Bevölkerung so um ein Drittel ab 1350.
Aber schön zu hören, dass es dir gut geht und du dich körperlich und psychologisch verbarrikadierst.
Nur weiter so! Gruss

Amanda Lagerkvist said...

Take care Emil. Lovely blog post.
Greetings from my "infenced" existence!

Creasie Jordan said...

"Truly the suffering is great, here on earth. We blunder along, shredded by our mistakes, bludgeoned by our faults. Not having a clue where the dark path leads us. But on the whole, we stumble along bravely, don't you think?”
Alice Walker, American Writer

Take care and be well!
Creasie Jordan 
Sonora, California USA 🇺🇸 

BeachyGal said...

There is no one I know who is better equipped to bring historical perspective to, well, any situation than you! It may be perverse, but I embrace these "interesting" times for all the game-changer challenges that are afoot- globally. Surely it is a healthy thing to radically shake up our routines once or twice in a life-time since it is so every easy to fall into those mental ruts. And, to add one more platitude, this one really will make us stronger- in so many diverse ways - IF it doesn't kill us. Stay well and do try using the frying pan!

Love from KC in Berkeley

Johann Kornfehl said...

A great place to enjoy living

Björn Hasselgren said...

Emil, great post as always. With an interest in economic history I compare with the 1920s. The crisis will take some time to solve, but just think about the parties we will have in the coming decade! –:)


Dag Lindskog said...

Hej Emil!
Tack för din läsvärda blog.
Själv kom jag och Helena åter till Stockholm i tisdagskväll efter att ha varit "fångar" på ett flytande lyxhotell. Alltså ett kryssningsfartyg, vilket förmodligen var en av de säkraste platserna av alla. Förklaringarna är noggranna kontroller vid på- och avstigning redan i februari, segling där viruset då inte fanns som Argentina, Falklandsöarna och Chile samt tio dagar helt till havs. Efter diverse trassel slutade kryssningen inte i Lima utan i Miami och det gick att ta sig hem med flyg via London. Väl hemma har vi ännu inte helt anpassat oss, men solen skiner i alla fall!
Hejdå från Dag

Anonymous said...

Hallo Emil,

danke für deinen interessanten Blog, interessant auch weil Schweden einen anderen Zugang als die meisten anderen europäischen Staaten gewählt hat. England mit einer ähnlicher Strategie hat ja schon eine Änderung vorgenommen. Bei uns wird ja Gesundheit und geringe Sterblichkeit an erste Stelle gestellt und dann die Abflachung der Kurve der Infektionsfälle als oberstes Ziel erklärt. Seit ca. 2 Wochen gibt´s nur mehr Notbetrieb im ganzen Land, keine Restaurants, keine Schule, keine Geschäfte außer für Lebensmittel und natürlich keine Veranstaltungen! Die Straßen sind gespenstisch leer, die sozialen Kontakte sind auf ein Minimum heruntergefahren, Übertretungen werden bestraft.
Bis Ostern soll´s mal so bleiben, aber es wird sicher länger dauern, abhängig davon ob diese Ansteckungskurve sich abflacht oder nicht!
Lieber Emil, alles Gute und "xund" bleiben, wir stehen´s durch! Wilfried

wimpissingernews.blogspot.com said...

Lieber Landsmann Emil!
Als priveligierter Pensionist wie Du - trotz Corona Risikogruppen-Status - warte ich auf die Resultate der schwedischen Rikikogruppenimunisierung und unserer Isolierungspolitik. Ich blicke entspannt nicht auf die Ostsee, sondern auf den Leopoldsberg und verarbeite die weltweiten Krisenmeldungen mit zu wenig gebotenem Horror. Ich relativiere: scheinbar gibt es im Kongo immer noch Ebola und auf Madagaskar die Pest.
Freuen wir uns auf das Osterfest mit dem Auferstehungsgottesdienst im TV und hoffentlich ist unser jählicher Sommerumzug im Juni nach Skane wieder möglich.
Schau auf Deine Gesundheit und - stay safe! Heinz

Ken Lennan said...


Have a good Easter, but probably pretty quiet like me - now here in Ireland. Returned to rural Ireland nearly a month before my ticket said. I was concerned that I might end up stranded in San Diego and outstaying  my visa.

A week after I arrived in Greenore, taking care to stock up on food for the freezer in transit from the airport and then during that first week shopping in Northern Ireland, the lock up for those over 70 (or those with underlying conditions) was decided. Today those measures were extended for a further 3 weeks. But the house here is old and big and I like it a lot. While I am restricted to the house and garden, I consider the closed golf course at the end of my back garden to be part of my garden and at 6.30 am, I take a 45 minute walk up beside the shore of the Lough with all the various seabirds and the oyster beds and then back through the empty greens and back in my back gate, and I never encounter a soul. Once, early on, I did fall asleep in my chair and woke up to find it was 6.30, so I went for my usual walk. But there were a few other walkers and I had to vary my track and it was only then I realised it was 6.30 pm, and it was my second walk of the day.

I do realise the measures here are for my benefit and I respect the medical based approach, explained every evening on TV by the Chief Medical Officer and rubber stamped by the politicians - and the caretaker Prime Minister is actually a doctor. I also realise that there are totally valid other approaches following the herd immunity model. Given that lock down is not a long term solution it has merits, but probably not for the over 70s. I am afraid I do not have the same confidence for the muddled approach in the US and federal action or inaction not following any model consistently.

Numbers here seem to have stabilised. Total deaths as of today (when there were 25 new deaths) is 288. Total cases are 7054 with 819 the latwest day figureadditions, but biased since testing has not been optimal and time delay in results pretty poor. The numbers on the pass on rate are down from 20 to 2, but below 1 needed. The population here is nearly 5 million (4.94). In Northern Ireland 10 deaths today for a total of 93.  Population there 1.8 million. Cases and deaths in the UK as a whole pretty high and I think on the up.
So I am here and while it is a bit annoying not going to the shops, and for me that hardware stores are closed - thus not too much do it yourself, or actually driving anywhere (since I am near the border with NI I hear that there are checks both sides of the border on what is the legitimate reason - very few - for you being on the road). Everybody around is most helpful. I give my next door neighbour a list of food I might want and it comes on my doorstep. The postlady comes around weekday mornings and is helpful, and I could use any of the many voluntary and local authority services for those living alone, if required.