In our little town of Hatherleigh in Devon, we recently lost Dennis Bater to Covid-19. He kept the fish and chip shop for years; a good citizen, fireman, postman — and mayor — who loved his town. My cousin and her husband in Sheffield were poorly for many weeks; my best friend at university too. Weeks of anxiety, but all are recovering. And one of our most beloved children’s writers, Michael Rosen, has also been in hospital, and very ill, and is now getting better at home, thank goodness.

We can really understand something of epic tragedy only when it becomes personal. And in the week in which we should have been in the streets commemorating the 75th anniversary of VE Day, I’m reminded, too, of the suffering of soldiers in wars far from home, dying far from all those they love and who love them.

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