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And so begins another day in isolation, although I have now changed location. As lovely as Manchester NH is, I was getting a little stir crazy in my hotel room, and the view out of the window, across the parking lot was becoming a little stale. Mind you, if I had been at the other side of the hotel I would have been looking across a ball park, with stands, floodlights, giant scoreboards etc. which would have been more fun!

So, an update on the situation: work wise I have lost performances in Nashua, Long Island and at Winterthur, and although I know it would have been completely irresponsible to perform (indeed, I took the initial test because I was concerned about the residents at the Nashua Senior Center being exposed to the virus), and physically I don’t think I would have been able to get through the shows, I still sat in my room feeling so upset for the hundreds of people who had been looking forward to attending. I have had lots of messages of support and sympathy, but I have so missed standing on stage and hearing the laughter and applause, and being a small part of people’s Christmas celebrations.

The good news is that I am no longer testing positive and the recommended period of quarantine from the time of the first symptoms will soon be passed. Speaking of symptoms, one of my regular readers posted a question asking what mine were and are? It started in Lenox, after my Thursday night performance there, and I began to feel as if I were catching a cold, which is nothing unusual during a tour, when the weather is cold (and this year, wet), and I am using a lot of my energy to perform, meaning that my body’s natural defences are low. I have often caught colds in the past, so these very mild symptoms didn’t ring alarm bells at that stage. On Friday morning I set out to drive from west to east towards New Hampshire, and in my uncompleted, and unpublished blog post from that day I wrote:

The day was clear and sunny, showing off The Berkshires in all of their winter glory, as I headed East. In fact, the journey was a bit like an encyclopedia of my touring history, for I passed a great many cities and communities where I have performed in the past: starting at Lenox, of course, then Westfield, I saw a sign for East Deerfield, and then more for Old Sturbridge Village. I passed through Worcester (in fact I could see the hotel where I had stayed just a few days before from the freeway), before skirting Boston, to Lowell (where I had not only performed, but CD visited the city to observe the mills during his first visit to America in 1842), and Salem before heading into New Hampshire, passing Nashua, to where I will be returning on Saturday, and finally to Manchester. If I had continued north, a long way north, I would have reached the Mount Washington Hotel in the heart of the White Mountains. In those early days of touring, I would drive past the Old Man of the Mountain, a huge granite outcrop in the shape of a face, with a hooked nose. The old man took on almost mythical status in the state, and it was with shock and fear that the news was received one morning in 2003 that the whole front of the face had broken away from the cliff and tumbled into the valley below, depriving New Hampshire of an iconic symbol.

During the drive I stopped at a Panera Bread restaurant and had one of their Fuji Salads, and by now I could feel my cold taking grip a little more – I thought that I could really have done without this just now’

So, in hindsight, it started there.

The next morning I felt much more debilitated, with my body and head both aching too. Early in the morning I managed to get hold of some testing kits and a thermometer and sure enough there was the second pink line.

Fortunately, I did not have a fever, though. The thermometer’s instructions caused me some angst, in that it told me to press against the very centre of my forehead (that was OK), but then to slowly move it up until it reached the hairline – well, in my case that is quite a long journey, in fact one could say a journey without end! Fortunately there was a suggestion to also move the probe to the neck, just below the ear, which is what I did.

Since the initial test I stayed pretty well in bed for two days, very tired, aching a bit in body and head and found myself sleeping a lot. I was thankful that the football World Cup was in full swing, as that provided some relief. I ordered food to be delivered to the hotel but found that I really didn’t have much of an appetite at all. On Monday afternoon I rebelliously sneaked out of the hotel and in the isolation of my car drove out to a deserted beach and walked on the sands breathing the fresh air. I even ran a little, just a few hundred yards up and down, to see how my lungs were performing, and actually it was OK.

From the beach at Hampton I drove up the coastal road for a while admiring the huge houses there, all twinkling with expensive Christmas decorations. The sight of those decorations made me feel wonderfully Christmassy for the first time in days, but also brought a wave of sadness to me: they represented the celebration of a season that I was not part of, and couldn’t be part of for a while.

Yesterday I drove from New Hampshire towards Pennsylvania, so that I can be close to the remaining venues of the tour and be ready to go if I am feeling physically able. The main issue now is a fairly constant dry cough, and lingering headache, but I am dosing up daily and am feeling better by the day. Bob Byers has been incredibly supportive, of course, putting no pressure on me to to perform, in fact quite the opposite, counselling me to look after myself and not push too hard too soon: he knows me too well!

So, that is the update – many thanks to all of you who have sent messages and comments via social media, I so value your friendship. I have had a messages about the quiz, and even had answer sheets submitted – I will post the complete answers in a couple of days, along with a few explanatory notes

A few more days rest and recuperation and hopefully I will back on stage on Friday!