27th March 2020

Darling Paloma

For the majority of us, it’s like being on a moving train watching the spread of this virus. We only catch sight of, never properly see, anything. The imagination fills in what the eye, because of the speed of the train, can’t fully digest. It is only when the news grows closer do we truly begin to understand what’s happening out there.

I heard from my brother that my niece Emma, who is a Senior House Officer, is being fitted out to work on the front line starting next Monday. My poor brother and sister in law. What must they be going through? Probably a mixture of deep pride and deep fear. Emma is a special girl and just meeting her you can tell how strong she is. I’m sure she will be fine.

And last night we heard your mother’s aunt has been taken to hospital. She has double pneumonia. From what I understand, it was not as simple as ringing the ambulance and being picked up. There was at first a frantic search and a wait of seven hours. Finally and luckily they found a bed. I understand she’s now in a good care and she is comfortable.

Your Uncle Jaime sent a photograph of Madrid. A city that I have just fallen in love with and where half of your family live looks desolate and in despair.

Andrew, my close friend from school days texted me to say he’s got the virus. I thought he was joking at first ( as he does) but he is not. He told his doctor that “it felt like somebody had kicked the shit out of me.” She said that maybe we should phrase it slightly differently for her notes. He wrote today: ‘ I didn’t know about the symptom of feeling so sore all over, not seen it online. But several people now seem to have had the same, and a lot worse, and the doctor said it was a common symptom along with headaches. Since both my boys had headaches and low grade fevers for 24 hrs last week, I wish I’d known more.’

Below is a photograph of Andrew and I with our late Headmaster’s daughter when we revisited the school.

I plan to check on him everyday. And this afternoon we got news that the Prime Minister has tested positive for Covid-19. Not totally surprising as I thought he looked dreadful over the last few days. I suppose the big question is how many people did he infect and like your mum, his partner is pregnant – I hope she is clear.

So my darling girl the virus is beginning to strangle our days. There is a scream as of some poor creature not yet touched by the virus, not yet infected, but who sees it converging.

The only ray of light for us has been a stunning one. Yesterday in a deserted Harley Street clinic we went for a scan. It could easily have been my imagination but I’m sure you smiled at me. Oh how comfortable and snug you looked. Near and yet so far from the world we are living in at the moment. But I remain convinced or maybe I just hope that by the time you make your entrance everything would have settled…..

Love Daddy.

Published by Simon Astaire

Simon Astaire was the youngest agent ever employed at ICM starting the Music department and representing a variety of clients before turning to head a PR agency where his clients included brands such as Bulgari, Armani and celebrities and members of the Royal Family. He is regularly quoted in the press and has been described in The London Times as a PR Prince. He had a regular column in the Sunday Telegraph called Station to Station where he interviewed a diverse mixture of high-profile individuals on their imaginary last train journey. He has written six novels and two biographies including soccer star Sol Campbell when he was nominated for best new sports writer. His latest novel The Last Photograph, was made into a film of the same name. It had a US theatrical release in November 2019 and is now available on all platforms. His blog ' Letters to my daughter' began March 19th 2020.

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