Corona Despair

Alice Morrison corona lockdown

Is corona despair actually a thing? I’m in my 12th week of what feels like house arrest. No going out, except for essential shopping. Yes, I am lucky. I have an amazing view from my terrace. I am in a big family, so no isolation. I have enough food. Squeaky the Cat occasionally accepts gestures of affection. Ramadan is over and my morning coffee is still a real luxury. My own family is well. Yes, I understand I am lucky but that doesn’t translate to feeling it: this is just too wearing and wearying. I can no longer bear to think of zoos and prisons. I can’t.   

It’s not just corona despair.  The horrible murder of George Floyd and President Trump’s incitement to shoot looters. Dominic Cummings’ bare-faced lies to the British people. The hashtag #scumpress when journalists are actually risking their own health to get news to us. It’s all so toxic.

But there is another reality. It’s quieter than the roar of endless shares on social media but it’s there.


Juliana Formicola is my friend. She’s a supply teacher and a model. Obviously, she’s had no work for the past three months and there’s building work going on in the house next door so she has been driven quietly mad by the drilling. In mid-March, she was in 10 different schools, mixing with hundreds of kids – a pretty risky endeavour – as well as rushing around to photo shoots.  She makes lots of her own clothes, so she has spent her lockdown time sewing masks and now scrubs for the doctors – apparently there are lots of fiddly bits. Laughing at herself, she told me that she had a very dark day when one of her early attempts was used as an example of how not to do it. She’s also been knitting for Syrian refugees.

Rachid with his favourite food – tannourt

Rachid Aitelmahjoub lives in Tagadirt n Ait Ali about 10km from me and he and I did a world first together, the Atlas to Atlantic Expedition – walking from the top of Mount Toubkal (4167m) to sea level straight across the Atlas Mountains in Morocco in 12 days. I was taking essential groceries to my friend Karima in his village and spotted him at the bottom of the hill. He was all masked up (obligatory here) and standing beside his car as a steady trickle of villagers came past. He explained that he was giving out flour and oil to people who can no longer afford them. It meant that families would be able to bake bread in Ramadan and for Eid.

Charlie’s trees

Charlie Mackenzie is my cousin. His story isn’t about corona at all. He has a big garden surrounded by trees and when the seeds fall, he gathers them and plants them. Some seedlings survive and thrive and when they are big enough, he drives up to the Scottish Highlands and plants them out in the wild. He is reforesting, just doing it. When lockdown in Scotland is eased he has 31 trees ready to go – oak, beach, horse chestnut, sycamore and a couple of firs.

Katie, a true carer

Katie is a stranger. She came to one of my talks in Scotland about the Draa Expedition. When she read on my blog that I was worried about my parents in Edinburgh, she messaged me and sent me her mobile. “If your parents need anything, give them my number and get them to call me. I can help them out.” Not only that, she has followed up a couple of times just to check and see that they are managing and don’t need anything.

These are all small things, perhaps when balanced against the bigger, darker picture, but they add up. When I think about all these little lights shining out, it pushes back that black feeling of corona despair. So, thank you Katie, Charlie, Rachid and Juliana and everyone else who is quietly doing their best.

It’s not much but I’d like to offer you some free content – moments of escape from the daily grind so there are more blogs here

And I have a podcast, Alice in Wanderland, which is on all major platforms or here and covers my adventures (episodes 4-10 are live from the Sahara Expedition) and Corona lockdown life now.

If you’d like to buy any of my books, of course that would be great. My latest has just made the best sellers’ list on Amazon travel. Check them out here. They are all on kindle/ereader as well as in print. Bike across Africa with me in Dodging Elephants, delve behind the scenes on my TV show in Morocco to Timbuktu, or zoom round Morocco with me from the Atlas to the Sahara, from Marrakech to Essaouira in Adventures in Morocco.

Squeaky the Cat and the view

Stay safe!

8 comments on “Corona Despair

  1. Janice Broadstock on

    Just imagine how fabulous the first strides of your next excursion will be – just like that first morning coffee after Ramadan.

    Isn’t Squeaky sleek?! That’s quite a tail she’s got there too!

  2. Jim Hayward on

    Hey Alice – keep smiling it will ease, but I afraid 2020 will be a bit of a “lost year”. Really makes us all appreciate the really important things in life doesn’t it?
    Thanks for finding the positive in this situation- it’s so important for our wellbeing.
    “Discovered “ your story on BBC last week and currently enjoying Dodging Elephants. Stay safe everyone

  3. Linda Bradshaw on

    Thank you for sharing such sincere thoughts & memories. We are all trying to be strong although some days it is easier than others, we are united however far away.Today I will be running up Chrome hill in Derbyshire I will think of you when I get to the top x Your books are inspirational!

  4. Sarah on

    Thank you for sharing those heart warming stories. The TV news is always dark and grim but those people and their acts of kindess show that there is much love and care out there. Stay safe and well. You’re in a better place than the UK.

  5. Kristin Dahl on

    Yes, coronavirus despair is a thing. I keep a personal journal and my COVID version has been a mix of posts to record history and reflect. But four days ago, the daily entry’s title was “Despair, Despair, Despair”. My journal entry was about George Floyd’s murder (I live in Wisconsin in the US, but grew up in Minnesota), but absolutely every emotion is amplified by coronavirus isolation. And, I am LUCKY. I live in a beautiful area with few people, where my husband and I can bike or hike without restriction. Yet, despair. Reading your post about good people doing great things really helps. Thank you.

  6. Tessa Pearson on

    Hello Alice – with artist Lara Harwood I run art workshops in Marrakesh and the Kasbah du Toubkal… we are missing our visits very much and crossing everything that our September trip will go ahead. I am reading your Adventures in Morocco at the mo and it is really cheering me up. Here’s hoping we can meet one day , your work is fab. ( ps I am also a Sean Bean fan)


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