Leaching away common sense and confidence, as reactions to the coronavirus seem to be doing, is threatening to do more long term damage than the virus itself. We are social beings and most of us are capable of taking sensible precautions. Which is why it was such a joy to be at a large gathering of authors, illustrators, librarians, teachers and other supporters of the arts last week.
The fact that human beings thrive on social contact is well researched and documented. We may seek it out to a greater or lesser degree, but if we are without it altogether for too long we begin to shrink into ourselves and become a shrivelled up version of artificial intelligence. While isolation may be a habit of choice for people pursuing any of the arts on a full-time basis, we become diminished, as people, if we are completely cut off from all contact with others. For me the dedicated hermit simply living off the land in complete isolation may be proving something to himself, but is adding nothing to the well-being of his fellow citizens.
Fortunately while 14 days seems like a long time to be in isolation, for most of us it is just long enough to read the pile of books on our bedside table. After that we desperately need to tell someone, in detail, what we thought of the stories. We need a gathering of people.