11th April 2020

Darling Paloma,

I began to write to you yesterday but by the time I had finished, I realised my words had described the gloom that I have been experiencing over the last couple of days. I don’t need you to look back and read individual days of sadness. I had the sense I was beginning to moan. To be constantly happy during this time is difficult.

It was breathless last night. It would usually have been a night when the restaurants were full, people propping up the bars until dawn. Easter is upon us and the nightlife would have been even more relaxed on the eve of a holiday weekend. But, of course, for the first time in my lifetime holiday weekends are different and its main focus is to distance ourselves from others rather than socialising and secondly and as important, during a weekend which has been chosen for Easter and Passover to coincide, a time for reflection.

An old school friend called early this morning to wish me Happy Holidays which for an Englishman still sounds daft. He hardly ever rings but we are all calling people we have not been in touch with for a long time. I think the last time we saw each other was at LAX airport about three years ago. He was heading to Sydney and I was heading back to London. We have never been that close. We couldn’t really be at school as he was head boy and I was thought more of the troublemaker type. But I think we liked each other from a distance and I’d like to think I was always genuine to him in a subtle undemonstrative way!

He was spending the weekend working on new resolutions. How happy he sounded as he preached ” this is the time for the new me!”

‘ Funny’ I said, ‘ I’d planned to do the same.’ It was an early call as if he wanted to wake me up with his morning praise. I imagined I was going to be first of many that he would share his new-found elation. His zeal was a welcome addition to his character. I had always found him underwhelming even if the school found him to be a modern day hero .’ I plan not to be so nice to people, so nice to everyone. To stop always apologising even for things not yet done. That part of me has gone forever!’ And he immediately dropped a name of a politician who became the first victim of his new found non-niceness.

We promised to meet up when the lockdown finished. May? I asked thinking that because of his very loose connection to government he might know.

‘ No my dear boy. I hear the curfew will be enforced to mid June,’ he said and continued with the sort of crap you don’t particularly want to hear at anytime let alone before your first sip of coffee. ‘ I’ve heard that many have died of fright as soon as they start to cough!’

‘ Really? ‘ I replied, ‘ can you die from fright alone?’

‘ For sure, it’s called Vagal inhibition. a nervous stopping of the heart.’ He was about to go on but I cut him off.

His preaching irritated me and I was reminded of the old him. The head boy with a broad smile across the face always about to collect prizes galore for the classics, long jump, and logarithms.

I said a quick goodbye.

I’m spending the afternoon and early evening reading out on the terrace. On the table is a sheet of paper I’m going to write down my resolutions on. I pat the page to assure me all my promises will be kept. The sky is as crystalline as a treble voice. It is a religious experience. The first resolution is staring right at me. To better protect our planet. I know I’ve mentioned this before but we must protect the one and half million recorded but probably nearer ten million species on earth and sea, some of which we will never know because we destroyed them before we knew they were there? Let us appreciate these gifts of this world. And before I go on and return to the mood of previous days I shouldn’t let my despondency about the future be an excuse for a lack of gratitude for now. What Still Is. But what I promise to you and your brother is that in my small way I will check my behaviour so that your children and your children’s children will live on an earth flourishing and consumed by all its beauty.

Te quiero mucho

Papa

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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