Two weeks ago today I managed to draft three paragraphs of a blog entry before grinding to a halt. It began with the phrase “I must admit to being very tired at the moment,” which would prove to be eerily prescient, as the following morning I bit the bullet, or, rather, swizzled the swab, and tested undeniably positive for Covid. I had dodged it for over two years, and rather optimistically hoped that I was either naturally immune (very unlikely) or had merely shown mild symptoms (possible) but I can now safely say that I had simply not been hit by it.

As a result, Anghiari was a non-starter, of course, even if I had felt well enough to spend umpteen hours travelling, which I definitely did not. Quite apart from other things, the thought of spreading the virus around and about is unthinkable to me, even if the official guidance currently has no strict requirement to self-isolate, and my throat has been in such a terrible state that I was certainly in no fit condition to take hours of demanding bilingual choir rehearsals.

The previous week had been good, though, with the Kensington concert (did I pick Covid up there?) and a performance of my Missa Seria at St. George’s, Southwark, on the Sunday morning, but the past two weeks have been a total washout. If I came down with the virus it was always going to be inconvenient, but for it to happen right here, right now has been deeply disappointing, even if I still managed to write all my introductions for the Anghiari concerts. At least I was in touch with things in some way.

Needless to say, I have done no composing recently. The first two days after the positive test, isolated in my office, were mainly spent asleep, partially because being awake was so painful but also because I was trying to give my body the rest it so clearly craved. Even when I began to do things I felt wiped out much sooner and much more completely than I would otherwise have done. If nothing else, Covid has my respect, and I have to concur with the reports that I have heard which say that the latest variant is particularly nasty, particularly long-tailed in the leaving.

Somewhere in the very back of all that swirling brain fog is a sense of refreshment, though, a feeling that I really want to get back to the writing in the way that I did before the intense work of earlier this year took up so much of my energy. There is, after all, a symphony still to orchestrate, which I think will now form the backbone of my August work, and some other pieces to be getting on with, so, while I have been knocked sideways by this illness it has at least allowed me to collect my thoughts. I shall be very glad to feel better.