‘Welcome to Cornwall, the superspreader capital of Britain’ screamed the papers and that too on the day we were heading that way. Cornwall, one of the must see places in England and we’ve never been. Twenty twenty one is the year of the staycation when foreign holidays have turned into nightmares. The year when most people decided that Cornwall is the place to be. Now Cornwall has joined the likes of Venice and Barcelona where the locals have taken a dislike to visitors unless you own a B&B that is and need the income. You can’t blame the locals as the outsiders have swarmed in and now it is one of the places with the highest rates of infection.
The drive is long and we need to leave early. It’s been a long time since we’ve had a proper break and this time instead of driving to the airport we are driving to Kumar annan’s place. I skim through the headlines. The photo of traumatised children arriving in Qatar is a weary sight. They’ve reached freedom and are the lucky ones but it will be a while before the fear dissipates and any sense of joy takes residence. Childhood trauma never leaves you. You may feel resilient but it shapes you and moulds you and like a fungus gnaws through the brain clinging on however much you try to shake it off or control it. The number of evacuees is staggering but there are still many left behind. Stories of bravery and last minute attempts to save the stranded read like a thriller account except this time it is for real. The British ambassador and his team staying behind processing papers to help the stranded are some of the true heroes in this carnage.
I listen to the BBC interviews on the drive to Croydon. It is easy to pass the blame and wonder why more people were not evacuated earlier. The General explains. The operation was a delicate one and the timings crucial. The speed with which the Afghan government fell and surrendered was something they didn’t expect. Questions remain. The Taliban recruited and trained their soldiers far more effectively than the West managed after all these years. Why didn’t they see this coming? One of Trump’s leaving legacy to which Biden and the rest colluded. Once again another Nation has been left in tatters. This doesn’t seem to be the end of matters but the beginnings of another long period of tit for tat repercussions.
In the midst of this an ex marine is trying to save dogs and cats. What is important, human lives or animals, the questions continue. I listen to a podcast summarising the top ten interviews the Verywell mind editor picks from her first hundred episodes of interviewing the mentally strong. One of them is an interview with a lady who appears to be a beacon of strength but internally she is battling her mental demons and keeping them at bay. She talks about the day she decided to give up the battle and take her own life. Her mother rings her at the precise point saving her life. She breaks down as she narrates the incident. Her dog can be heard in the background barking and trying to soothe her at this point. Zoom meetings have shown us how meetings can go spectacularly wrong but in this incidence it showed us why for some their pets are just as important and leaving them behind is not an option.
We reach Kumar annan’s place. Prasanna has prepared a sumptuous breakfast and they are driving us down to Cornwall. We reach our destination by five in the evening after a couple of stops along the way, a farmhouse tucked away at the end of a narrow lane. Cynthia and her husband run the place. They are writers and illustrators whose stories for children (Foxwoods tales and Zigby the zebra) have been taken up by the BBC and adapted into TV shows. All the paintings hanging on the walls are their own creations. Our hosts make us feel welcome and any worries about coming to this corner of Britain disappear.